The Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020 (additional opinion)

EESC opinion: The Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020 (additional opinion)

Key Points 



  • deems it positive that the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) is taking an important step forward towards embracing a more social, inclusive and sustainable economic model, the SDGs and particularly the commitment to transforming the current growth model into "green" growth. That commitment remains particularly relevant given the economic and social effects of COVID-19, and needs to be demonstrated in the upcoming Autumn Semester Package, in which the European Commission will set out the economic and social priorities for the EU;
  • believes that both economic and social impact assessments are necessary to respond effectively to the effects of COVID-19. Governments need to act swiftly and forcefully to overcome COVID-19 and its impact, and this can only be done if they have a clear understanding of this impact;
  • recommends a revision of Stability and Growth Pact rules to support economic recovery and allow governments sufficient room for manoeuvre as well as the capacity to undertake much-needed infrastructural investment, particularly with regard to climate change. Flexibility in state aid rules is also deemed necessary to support business of all sizes in the transformation towards a digital and green economy. Access to finance, especially for SMEs, is also vital, as is the revision of the SME Strategy;
  • stresses that governments need effective and well-resourced public health measures to prevent further contagion, and, equally important, implement well-targeted policies to support social security systems, and to protect the incomes of vulnerable social groups. Trade union membership should also be encouraged to help achieve the objectives of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is so necessary at this time of crisis;
  • underlines that due to COVID-19, fair taxation has assumed greater relevance as governments face huge financial pressures to support emergency measures and there can be no doubt that a rethink of tax policy within the EU is necessary, not least to support public investment in infrastructure, education, healthcare and social protection;
  • considers the Commission’s proposals for a Next Generation EU plan to be both welcome and timely; 
  • emphasises that any undue delays in approving and implementing the agreed plan risks severely undermining the EU's economic recovery and the fulfilment of the ASGS goals;
  • sees the ASGS as an opportunity for the EU to shift towards an economic model that gives equal weighting to both economic and social/inclusive objectives. The objectives of ASGS goals should not be derailed because of economic challenges caused by COVID-19;
  • supports efforts to increase productivity across the EU, however this should not be achieved at the expense of economic sustainability or working conditions.