Committee calls for swift action and creativity in solving the job crisis
In view of the worrying job situation and faltering investment in many parts of Europe, at its 17 March plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion on the 2016 annual growth survey (AGS). The EESC is particularly concerned about the high level of unemployment, leaving 22.5 million people without a job. Moreover, nearly a quarter or 122 million Europeans are at risk of poverty or social exclusion – which, according to the EESC, is unacceptable and is the final wake-up call for both the Commission and European leaders.
The EESC opinion welcomes the decision to reinforce the Europe 2020 targets within the European Semester process (proposed in the Five Presidents' Report). While recognizing a moderate recovery, mostly based on a record exports surplus and thanks to the weak Euro, the EESC warns against too much optimism. For a real and sustainable recovery, an increase in internal demand is needed and long-term public investment would trigger this demand. The EESC therefore considers it necessary to change the direction of "austerity" policy and give governments leeway to make necessary infrastructure investments and to access cheaper money.
In its recommendations, the EESC calls on the Commission to remove obstacles for investments by strengthening governance in order to finally succeed in completing the European internal market and in modernizing Europe's economy. "It is the responsibility of European leaders to create a positive environment which gives people perspectives and confidence. In such a climate, private consumption and private investment – the main columns of a sound economy – will give a natural boost to the economy", said Juan Mendoza Castro, EESC rapporteur on the Annual Growth Survey opinion.
The Paris Agreement on the transition from fossil fuels (currently 86% of the total) towards clean energy must become a source of economic development.
Moreover, a greater coordinated effort to combat aggressive tax planning, tax evasion and fraud will generate an estimated one trillion Euros a year for national treasuries which could be re-purposed for public investment in employment and social policies.
Immediate action is needed to confront long-term unemployment (accounting for 50% of the total unemployment rate) and youth unemployment. "People, in particular younger people need occupation and perspectives. Otherwise we are at risk of social unrest in Europe", warned Juan Mendoza Castro. Special attention must be given to the many young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). "Investment in human capital via education and training, mainly focusing on young people cannot be delayed any longer".
The EESC reiterates that stable and quality employment is fundamental for economic recovery. It is necessary to reconcile the need for adaption in a fast-changing labour market with job security, the identification of employees with their companies and the continuing development of employees' capabilities. Moreover, new recipes are needed to fight long-term unemployment and to provide the necessary skills for the labour market. Investment and employment have to be priority areas for European policies – the Schengen agreement is also a fundamental pillar to their success.
For more information please contact:
EESC Press Unit
E-mail: presseesc [dot] europa [dot] eu
Tel: + 32 2 546 8141