The opinion makes a contribution to analysis and proposals on an issue that the European institutions should deal with more energy, cohesion and above all with a clear and definite will to eradicate the phenomenon.
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The European economic governance rules, conceived in crisis, played an important role in fiscal consolidation and economic policy coordination, but the cost was high in terms of growth and employment. The quantitative easing measures now being embarked upon by the European Central Bank need to be matched by greater political initiatives by the Member States. In the review of the Multiannual Financial Framework in 2016, there is a need to back urgent structural reforms of common EU interest with some form of fiscal capacity. A reasonable deviation from the 3% deficit parameter should be considered as a temporary exception for a given number of years and not be automatically liable to sanctions. A lack of implementation of country-specific recommendations (CSRs) could be countered by real involvement of civil society and the social partners in drawing up CSRs.
The EESC welcomes the new set of measures proposed by the European Commission to complete the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and move towards an optimal monetary zone. The EESC supports the various proposed goals for reinforcing the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM). The EESC welcomes that the present communication provides scope for a broader discussion and for a phased approach to implementing the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) and underlines the importance not to lose momentum in implementing the Banking Union. Finally, the EESC reiterates its commitment to a diverse financial ecosystem in which the large pan-European players coexist with small and medium-sized banks and other non-banking entities that focus reliably on the financing of the real economy on an equal footing, in an environment of much reduced systemic risk.
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 maintains that lessons need to be learned from recent economic and financial crises and a fresh approach adopted to ensure more effective supervision by national, European and international authorities and increased accountability of financial institutions.
The Committee supports the measures aimed at strengthening banks' capital structure and their ability to finance the economy.
The effect of the current financial and economic crisis has put energy pricing under the spotlight because of the impact on household energy costs in the context of austerity and on industrial competitiveness of high energy prices. The importance of Market Based Instruments (MBI) is that they must both advance the transition to a resource-efficient and low carbon economy and support economic recovery. Environmental and climate policies should not be seen as a burden in the recovery from the fiscal and economic and social crisis, but rather as a part of the solution. The Committee urges the Commission to make environmental fiscal reform an integral and permanent part of the European Semester.
The EESC is of the opinion that persisting imbalances as well as the creation of trust and confidence across Europe require more effective and democratic economic governance, notably in the Eurozone. It has become clear that the current system of rules underpinning the EU, and particularly the euro area, has created confusion on the legal, institutional and democratic fronts. A new approach is therefore needed. With this in mind, the Committee presents its contribution to the new five presidents' report which will propose next steps on better economic governance to the European Council in June. The EESC contribution summarises the different stages and puts forward institutional proposals and preparatory initiatives regarding the completion of the political pillar of the Economic and Monetary Union.
The EESC appreciates the proposed roadmap for completing the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) but its support is not full and enthusiastic, since a number of social, political and economic issues, highlighted in our previous opinions, were not taken into consideration. The completion of the EMU requires first of all strong political commitment, efficient governance and better use of the available finances, in order to actually cope with both risk reduction and risk sharing among Member States. For these reasons the EESC underlines that the principles of responsibility and solidarity at EU level should go hand in hand.