At its plenary session held on 16 and 17 March 2016 (meeting of 17 March 2016), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted this opinion by 200 votes to 3 with 11 abstentions.
You will find the main points of the opinion below, followed by the full opinion.
- In its package on deepening EMU the European Commission recommends the creation of National Competitiveness Boards.
- The EESC believes that competitiveness is not an end in itself. It is only a sensible objective if it improves people's well-being in practice.
- The current policy which aims to correct macroeconomic imbalances by improving price competitiveness has actually exacerbated the impact of the crisis if anything because it is based on too narrow a definition of competitiveness.
- The EESC therefore calls for an end to the current policy and recommends that an updated definition of competitiveness ("competitiveness 2.0") be used that is compatible with the Europe 2020 strategy as well as the "Beyond-GDP" objectives.
- According to such a new definition, competitiveness would be based on three pillars: income, social cohesion and sustainability.
- The current discussion should therefore refer to "boards for competitiveness, social cohesion and sustainability".
- Before the possible establishment of such boards, the EESC asks the Commission to carry out a mapping exercise as regards existing committees and activities in the field of "competitiveness 2.0" which would allow an estimation of the added value of new boards and the need for additional structures.
- The EESC also asks the Commission to provide clarification on a number of pending issues including the selection and nomination of the boards' members, their competencies and accountability, ensuring the necessary legitimacy and transparency by fully incorporating parliaments and social partners, the guarantee of impartiality and independence, as well as the preservation of the autonomy of the social partners.
- Furthermore, the dual role of wages must be taken into account: they are indeed a cost factor for businesses but, from a macroeconomic point of view, they are the main determinant of domestic demand.
- The EESC also draws attention to its previous opinions for deepening EMU in which it stresses the need for a common European strategy instead of competing national strategies. It is of crucial importance to expand macroeconomic dialogue and introduce it for the euro area. This is the most appropriate framework for a better coordination of the different economic policies.
- Investment geared to promoting growth and employment is of crucial importance in reducing imbalances. A broader-based golden rule for financing public investment for the future could considerably contribute to this goal.