Annual Growth Survey 2019 (communication)

EESC opinion: Annual Growth Survey 2019 (communication)

Key points:

  The EESC

  • welcomes the continuing commitment to support for reforms aimed at increasing high-quality investment and productivity growth, inclusiveness and institutional quality, and to continuing to ensure macro-financial stability and sound public finances;
  • welcomes the recognition of the need for investment focused on education and training and the increased recognition of the need to strengthen the EU’s social dimension, to respond to inequalities inside and between regions and in terms of access to education, and to achieve coordination between policy instruments;
  • however, it remains to be specified how these objectives are to be achieved and the assessment of economic performance does not match the data appended in all areas, remaining complacent on some points, exaggerating positive features and, in some cases, making unsubstantiated claims about the positive effects of past policies;
  • welcomes reforms that can lead to enhanced productivity. Improved productivity is crucial for retaining the EU’s competitive position and for improved wellbeing. However, there is a need for thorough evaluation of past policies, in the light of mixed results to date, including the slow pace of economic recovery, continuing concerns over productivity relative to competitors and the increase in precarious employment;
  • welcomes the prominence the Social Pillar is given. It should be made clearer how it will be put into practice, how resources can be made available through European Social Funds and other European instruments and how that will be financed at EU and Member State level;
  • underlines that progress is very slow and proposals often rather modest in areas where new policies have been proposed, including fair taxation, the banking union and the functioning of the euro area. Full involvement of the social partners and civil society would be beneficial;
  • recognises the importance of addressing climate change but measures so far adopted remain insufficient. An important step would be to rename the Annual Growth Survey as the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey. Besides recognising the importance of climate change this would also recognise the importance of sustainability of finite resources, the protection of the environment and thereby the safeguarding of the interests of future generations;
  • emphasises that in many areas policy implementation depends on some private and also public sector financing. This should be facilitated both with reforms to create a favourable environment for private-sector investment and with an adequate EU budget and with commitment to a ‘golden rule’ allowing funding from Member State budgets for socially and economically productive investment that does not threaten future budget sustainability.