The "Agenda for new skills and jobs" is one of the seven flagship initiatives under the Europe 2020 Strategy. It proposes actions within four key priorities in order to reach an employment rate of 75% by 2020. In its opinion the EESC broadly welcomes the European Commission initiative but puts forward a number of comments and recommendations. For instance, the Committee finds that the proposed initiative fails to encapsulate the urgent need to create good-quality jobs. It does not constitute a sufficient stimulus to Member States to set more ambitious national goals backed by the necessary investment and structural reforms.
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The Committee's opinion, prepared in view of the Spring European Council, comments on the Commission’s ‘Annual growth survey’ (AGS) 2012.
In the first part, it deals with general issues related to the AGS such as: its focus on growth, on fiscal consolidation and on the implementation of reforms agreed in the framework of the European semester as well as the implication of organised civil society and social partners in the AGS process.
The second part brings together specific contributions from various EESC opinions that were adopted in 2011 in relation to the five AGS priorities: pursuing differentiated, growth-friendly fiscal consolidation; restoring normal lending to the economy; promoting growth and competitiveness; tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis; and modernising public administration. These comments update the EESC’s position on the AGS 2011 that was adopted in March 2011.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) endorses the priorities set out in the European Commission's 2017 Annual Growth Survey.
The European Semester is seen as a good instrument for further progress in policies and reform, leading to recovery and employment. The AGS 2017 outlines the most pressing economic and social priorities, accompanied by specific recommendations, however the EESC takes very seriously the negative aspects of the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact and Country-Specific Recommendations applied at national level to set the euro area fiscal stance.
The absence of economic and social convergence among Member States and regions is a threat to the political sustainability of the European project and all the benefits it has brought to European citizens. Developing economic and labour market resilience with economic, social, environmental and institutional sustainability should be the principle guiding policies. This will foster upwards convergence and fairness in the transition towards a climate-neutral economy while managing the challenges posed by digitalisation and demographic change.
"The Committee fully supports the Europe 2020 Strategy as well as the progress towards ex ante fiscal policy coordination in the European Semester and hopes that, at least for countries in the euro area, the current legislative proposals for European economic policy coordination will be the first step towards a genuine common economic policy and the full coordination of fiscal policies. ..."