The Committee welcomes the increased attention brought to social investment, a greater targeting of European funds to sound employment and social policies, a dedicated youth employment initiative and youth guarantee scheme, and better cross-border mobility. It also welcomes the foreseen strengthened social dialogue as part of the European Semester process. It particularly supports the idea to step up closer surveillance of employment and social imbalances within the EMU through a systematic monitoring of rates of unemployment, of young people not in employment or training or education, of household income, poverty and inequality. The proposed scoreboard should pro-actively detect asymmetric developments and spill-over into overall economic performance and trigger a timely and effective adjustment mechanism and policy response.
A coherent Industrial Policy requires far better governance – the EESC position. The EESC welcomes very much the focused attention to Europe's industry, as expressed in the Commission's update on Industrial policy of October 2012. The present opinion insists on a change of mind-set in the Member States (MS) and the EU Council. It stresses the need of coherent decision-making on a wide variety of issues, and effective governance at EU level. Only then industrial policy can become a building block of an EU Growth Initiative of which there is still little effective action.
The EESC welcomes initiatives to foster productive investment and the formation of long-lived tangible and intangible capital but urges the Commission to give greater attention to the need to finance more "socially useful" capital investment. If banks are likely to play a less prominent role in the future as providers of long-term financing, then opportunities may arise for other intermediaries such as national and multilateral development banks, institutional investors, sovereign funds and, crucially, bond markets. The EESC welcomes the recent recapitalisation of the EIB as this will strengthen its ability to leverage additional private investment finance and to play a stronger countercyclical role in investment funding and credit supply to SMEs..
The EESC welcomes the proposal put forward by the Commission to introduce the world's first regional financial transaction tax (FTT). The Committee believes that its application at regional level (EU11+ zone) could constitute an exceptional opportunity, which could lead to its future application worldwide. The Committee believes that the introduction of this tax within the EU11+ will foster the establishment of a single financial market. The Committee believes that, in order to maximise the impact of the tax on economic growth, the revenue that it raises should be channelled into a programme of investment at national and EU levels capable of delivering economic recovery and jobs in the short term.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposals on adapting the European regulatory framework to reflect changes made to international standards on preventing and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It also approves the inclusion of gambling service providers on the list of professionals subject to requirements and notes that the present proposal contains a certain number of requirements that go beyond international standards. The EESC welcomes the proposal to harmonise the sanctions applicable at European level but has reservations regarding the purely "administrative" nature of the sanctions foreseen.
The international economic and financial crisis exposed the structural limitations and contradictions in EMU, depriving the euro of its propensity to attract. The EESC believes that the single currency will be unsustainable unless we achieve convergence between the economic capacities of the euro area countries and improve overall competitiveness, objectives which require economic as well as political commitment. The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance stresses stability without proposing joint financial instruments for recovery and employment. Europe needs to go back to generating wealth in order to redistribute it fairly. Briefly, these are the EESC's four recommendations for completing the euro framework, i.e.
The EESC welcomes the Commission communication, which may prove a historic turning point provided that the Council finally musters the courage and the will necessary to adopt and put into effect the provisions that will help to achieve the stated objectives swiftly. Therefore, to achieve a genuine EMU, the EESC believes it necessary in the immediate term (without amending the Treaty) to: launch a European growth initiative; introduce a convergence instrument to help overcome the economic asymmetries between countries; implement a solution to the debt issue; rapidly implement banking union; complete the single market in all sectors; reduce the fragmentation of the credit market.
The Committee gives a guarded welcome to the two communications from the Commission on the introduction of a Competitiveness and Convergence Instrument and on ex-ante coordination of plans for major economic policy reforms. It is disappointing that they provide little additional detail to the concepts already outlined in the Blueprint, which therefore renders assessment difficult. While these two proposals could be a help to Member States in difficulty, restoring growth and capacity to the most needy areas may be hampered or delayed because the focus of concern is that the measures taken must also benefit the euro area as a whole. The Committee questions the added value of a CCI and the additional bureaucratic burden that the proposed ex-ante coordination may bring. The EESC wishes to continue the debate as developments evolve.