Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020

EESC opinion: Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020

Key Points


  •  welcomes the approach taken by the annual growth strategy for 2020, based on the four key pillars that are the environment, productivity, stability and fairness and also welcomes the inclusion of the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals;
  • welcomes the announced change in the annual strategy, moving away from the current thinking that focuses on programming and short- and medium-term objectives to finally make provision for long-term strategies. This is made necessary by the investment needed to implement the environmental sustainability strategy by means of complex, integrated energy and climate plans drawn up by the Member States and approved by the Commission;
  • agrees with the indications made in the annual strategy concerning investment in the intangible sectors of education, training and skills development, as it sees them as absolutely crucial and decisive;
  • strongly supports the aim of boosting research and innovation and of increasing the funds earmarked for them - these are long-term strategic investments for the competitiveness of the EU as a whole at international level;
  • regrets that the Communication from the Commission gives little space to the annual report on growth in the Union. In the EESC's view, the greatest priority of all is to restore sustainable growth, above all in the weakest countries and regions, with a strong increase in European GDP in order to generate prosperity and the wealth that is crucial to supporting the strategy;
  • hopes that measures governing investment will be studied and adopted and that they will, while taking account of the constraints of the Stability Pact – or by way of exception from them and from the State aid rules – enable all countries to invest the amounts needed to meet their own objectives set in the integrated energy and climate plans;
  • welcomes the proposal set out in the 2020 growth strategy to make use of every means and financial leverage that is already available through the current instruments under the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework. It also hopes, however, that the financial means will be increased where there is needed to meet the objectives;
  • agrees on the need to strengthen the stability and resilience of the financial system and tighten the rules governing the financial markets in order to reinforce the international role of the European currency and to take precautions against any future crises that may emerge elsewhere in the world and have an impact on Europe as a result of globalisation. This can be done by beefing up macro prudential rules and other measures aimed at safeguarding the financial stability of the Member States. In addition to the ongoing process of completing the Banking and Capital Markets Unions, the upcoming strategic review of the ECB monetary policy should focus more specifically on fostering economic growth in the euro area and strengthening the international role of the euro;
  • highlights the importance of keeping the well-being of people at the heart of the 2020 growth strategy, by preserving and strengthening the social advances that make the EU a world leader;
  • welcomes the fact that social rights are highlighted in the 2020 growth strategy. The EESC hopes that, among the objectives of the European Semester, special attention will be given to the gender issue, particularly concerning women's rights at work, the achievement of pay parity, employment protection for mothers – not least to counter the negative demographic trend – and the introduction of significant enhancements to legislation protecting the family;
  • believes that more robust single market governance infrastructure needs to be put in place at EU and national level, together with thorough-going administrative simplification, an ambitious process of digitalisation and intensive capacity-building initiatives for all stakeholders;
  • advocates new governance structures across a range of levels that can ensure the involvement of the local economy and civil society in designing and implementing fair measures that reflect the circumstances in which they operate.