With less than two months to go before the next European elections, the EU economy is facing a set of complex challenges that will need to be addressed during the next EU legislative term-of-office. Economic growth in the EU is decelerating and the situation in the labour market in some Member States remains alarming. The investment gap in what concerns both public and private investment needs to be closed in order to boost productivity and competitiveness. New developments in the context of the so-called fourth industrial revolution, including the repercussions of automation and artificial intelligence, are bringing profound changes to the economy. All of this comes in a context of increased uncertainty due to Brexit, trade protectionism and the instability generated by global geopolitical risks.
Against this background, the EESC considers that, independently from the result of the European elections, the EU urgently needs to make its economy more resilient through various policy measures that could stimulate investment, including in people, boost internal and external demand, and generally improve the market performance of EU companies. At the same time, renewed political momentum is needed to complete the missing blocks of Europe's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in order to enhance economic and social cohesion and convergence, global competitiveness and the overall confidence of citizens and investors in the EU.
This public hearing will therefore discuss from a wider civil society perspective the future of the European economy and the necessary political initiatives and decisions that need to be taken during the upcoming legislative term and beyond. Taking into account the conclusions of the debate, the EESC will draw up two own-initiative opinions, entitled "Towards a more resilient and sustainable European economy" and "A new vision for completing the Economic and Monetary Union". These will be forwarded to the newly elected European Parliament and European Commission with a view to having a constructive influence on Europe's future decision-makers, providing an objective analysis and practical suggestions as to the way ahead for the European economy.