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Procedure : 2016/2101(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0309/2016

Texts tabled :

A8-0309/2016

Debates :

PV 25/10/2016 - 15
CRE 25/10/2016 - 15

Votes :

PV 26/10/2016 - 6.7
CRE 26/10/2016 - 6.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2016)0416

Debates
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 - Strasbourg Revised edition

15. European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2016 priorities (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  Przewodniczący. – Kolejnym punktem porządku dnia jest sprawozdanie sporządzone przez Alfreda Santa w imieniu Komisji Gospodarczej i Monetarnej w sprawie europejskiego semestru na rzecz koordynacji polityki gospodarczej: realizacja priorytetów na rok 2016 (2016/2102(INI)) (A8-0309/2016).

 
  
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  Alfred Sant, rapporteur. – Mr President, may I start by thanking the shadow rapporteurs, assistants and all staff involved in the preparation of this draft report for the very good work. Even when they disagreed with the compromises reached, they all made extremely valid contributions to the work at hand.

The draft report presents the latest reflection on the state of European economies from the perspective of the European Commission’s recommendations to Member States on how to run their national economic systems so as to deliver growth and stability. During the last two years, the Commission streamlined its recommendations in parts by making them leaner and more focused. The change in approach was commendable. The aim here has been to follow up on it by concentrating on a few themes rather than to stretch over the whole width of policy concerns that the European semester covers. For, with a few exceptions, the state of the European economy still remains less than satisfactory. While growth has now emerged, it remains uneven and sluggish, even as doubts persist about European competitiveness. While unemployment is retreating overall and new jobs are being created, the situation on the jobs market remains bleak, not least for young people. While the pessimism about the future that was prevalent a few years ago has retreated, investment still is at historically low levels. The draft report considers this last concern as critical to the situation that we face.

No matter what policies are adopted, if the investment that is generated remains insufficient, economic performance will lag on all fronts. For this reason we have concentrated in this report on investment issues. It is true that on many areas of economic management, we have among us divergent views, but at the level of a desire to encourage greater investment in Europe, we all share a commitment to make this happen. The situation as of now is that there is a very significant shortfall in investment, both public and private, compared to what were used to in the not so distant past. To be sure, this investments debt is not happening just in Europe, but across the capitalist world. Still, it is of interest to us all to reflect about what can be done to reverse the trend.

Now personally I acknowledge the intellectual validity of arguments made by those who believe that current European governance structures, especially at the level of the eurozone, are sub-optimal. In and of themselves they serve to inhibit investment. So long as they prevail it is illusory to believe that significant long-term investment can be generated, so such arguments go. Nevertheless, the reality is that with the same existing governance structures, the European system has succeeded in the past to generate much higher levels of investment than at present. There is every reason, therefore, to seek to attain at least those past investment levels since experience shows they are attainable.

We have therefore sought to highlight those Commission recommendations, as well as the Commission’s own initiatives, that focus on investment issues; there are quite a number. Naturally, within the boundary conditions for our discussions, these issues have to be framed coherently, with adherence to the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, such as budgetary discipline, implemented with the appropriate flexibility that the same rules allow. Meanwhile, the need for ongoing structural reforms has to be underlined, on the understanding that such reforms must be sustainable and socially fair.

Beyond these considerations the need remains to show support for all growth-centred proposals that will increase the propensity to invest across the Union as a whole. Among others there are: proposals relating to access to equity and bank lending; to research and innovation; to education and training; to the promotion of SMEs; to EFSI and other funds that mobilise capital for new investment with a renewed structure aiming for a complete regional outreach of such funding; and on such lines also, the concept of green investment with environmental protection at its core.

However, one cannot avoid making a remark that has become almost ritualistic in Parliament reports on the Commission’s country-specific recommendations, which is that these recommendations will remain less than effective if governments and stakeholders in the respective national economies do not feel committed to them – if they do not own them as the jargon goes. On this point, the draft report emphasises that in order to arrive at such a sense of ownership, sub—national and regional authorities should be brought fully into the process by which country-specific recommendations are envisaged. On the ground, these bodies are now responsible for 60% of public investment proposals. They also have an extensive interface with private investment across a wide range of economic sectors. I will surely be most interested, Mr President, to hear the views of all colleagues on the challenge of using investment that Europe faces.

 
  
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  Sofia Ribeiro, relatora de parecer da Comissão do Emprego e dos Assuntos Sociais. – Senhor Presidente, Senhor Vice-Presidente da Comissão, caros colegas, este Parlamento tem vindo a defender sucessivamente o primado social no processo do Semestre Europeu.

O processo de coordenação das políticas orçamentais e económicas da União deve colocar a economia ao serviço dos cidadãos, pelo que é assim extremamente importante que tenhamos introduzido no painel de avaliação macroeconómica três novos indicadores no domínio do emprego.

Mas fomos ainda mais longe, defendendo que estes indicadores estejam em pé de igualdade com os indicadores económicos existentes, garantindo que os desequilíbrios internos sejam mais bem avaliados e aumentando a eficácia das reformas estruturais.

Todo este processo deve visar a criação de emprego e a prosperidade das populações norteando-se pela necessária responsabilidade orçamental que garanta a sustentabilidade da Europa social, não colocando em risco as gerações mais jovens num processo de boa governação económica orientada para o crescimento, o que é incompatível com a aplicação de sanções a Portugal e Espanha que põem em causa a sua capacidade de investimento.

 
  
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  Ivan Korčok, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, thank you very much for holding this debate. I want to begin by reiterating the importance of the European Semester. It is indeed the framework within which we are coordinating our economic and fiscal policies.

The challenges are clear and you have identified them in your report: a deteriorating international environment, the legacy of the crisis, with high levels of debt and unemployment, and diverging economic and social performances amongst Member States.

An economically strong Europe is first of all a Europe that invests in infrastructure, in innovation, but of course, above all, in its people. The Council is now examining the proposal to extend the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), to agree promptly on its position in light of the evaluation expected next month.

It is a Europe that embraces the digital age to ensure that our industries are seizing the new opportunities of the digital world. It is also, of course, a Europe that is designed to meet the aspirations of its young generation. Therefore the Presidency intends to present the Council conclusions on youth employment in December, following the Commission Communication on the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative.

Furthermore, I should mention other areas that are key, like the need to match the current needs of labour markets for a suitable set of skills and of course we are striving to ensure the rebuilding of trust in the future of the economic and monetary union. It is needless to stress, as the rapporteur has mentioned, that stability comes, of course, from respect for fiscal rules.

A lot can be achieved at European Union level, but what matters at the end of the day is the delivery by Member States. I want to underscore that the implementation of the country—specific recommendations is therefore critical. Like you, I fully support efforts to ensure greater national ownership, including the Commission’s engagement with capitals to create a shared understanding of the challenges facing Member States.

The Council discussions at political level on the implementation of recommendations are very important in that respect. But it is through the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders that we can truly strengthen ownership. To that effect, discussions with national parliaments and today’s debate are all essential contributions to build a common vision of a Europe that delivers hope and prosperity.

It is obvious that the reforms called for by the country-specific recommendations are substantial ones. They cannot be achieved in one year, even under the best economic conditions. But what matters is that all the stakeholders, as I have mentioned, are committed to these reforms so that they can yield long-term benefits.

Finally, I would like to recall that the revamp of the Semester introduced last year was also aimed at facilitating the implementation of the recommendations, for instance by focusing on a limited number of key priority areas. The early publication of country reports also allows for more comprehensive discussions at national level.

So I would end on a positive note by commending the Commission for this.

 
  
  

Preşedinte: IOAN MIRCEA PAŞCU
Vicepreşedinte

 
  
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  Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, let me start by thanking the rapporteur, Mr Sant, the shadow rapporteurs and the rapporteurs from the committees for their engagement and dedication on this comprehensive report. The Commission welcomes this constructive contribution to the European Semester.

Democratic debate is an important element of the European Semester and today’s debate is very timely as we will soon launch the next Semester and set out the economic policy priorities for the year ahead. The Commission shares many of the findings and concerns mentioned in the report. Indeed the recovery in the EU and the euro area is still fragile and large divergences persist across Member States. Our autumn forecast, coming at the beginning of November, will provide a detailed update of the economic situation and outlook. It is clear that the EU needs stronger and more inclusive growth. To achieve this we have to progress with our three policy priorities: boosting investment, continuing structural reforms and pursuing responsible fiscal policies. These three policy priorities will again be at the heart of the Annual Growth Survey which will be presented by mid-November.

Now I will come briefly to the topics of the three priorities. First, on investment, we fully agree that a resurge of investment is crucial to support the economic recovery and reap the EU’s full growth potential. Despite low interest rates and ample liquidity, investment in Europe remains subdued. In that context, the Commission’s investment plan provides a most needed boost for Europe’s capacity to invest in future prosperity.

The projects so far approved for financing under the European Fund for Strategic Investment are expected to have mobilised around EUR 138 billion across 27 EU Member States. The Commission proposes to extend the duration of the Fund and to increase the financial capacity to at least half a trillion euro in investments by 2020. This would provide the necessary certainty to promoters and thus continued mobilisation of strategic investment. The Commission is also working to improve the overall investment environment, but it cannot succeed in this alone. All Member States must deliver on their side by stepping up their efforts to remove national obstacles to investment, as also stated in your report.

The Member States should improve their business and investment environment in areas like insolvency, public procurement, judicial systems and the efficiency of public administration or sector—specific regulations. These priorities are well reflected in the 2016 country reports and the subsequent country—specific recommendations (CSRs). The Commission shares your assessment that further measures are needed to increase financing opportunities for businesses and to reduce the levels of non—performing loans. The latter weigh on banks’ earnings and their ability to finance new investment projects. The Commission is set to present a proposal on business restructuring and second chance, key elements of an appropriate insolvency framework.

I welcome your encouragement to address employment and social challenges and count on your support in delivering on these objectives. Structural reforms are essential to sustain the recovery and boost long-term growth. Economic change and reforms are not detrimental for our welfare: the opposite is true. Yet we need to pay attention not only to the benefits of reforms, but also the distribution of their impact across society. Increasing fairness and addressing inequalities is important, as significant employment and social challenges remain in spite of recent welcome improvements.

Let me recall that employment in the EU has increased; since its lowest level in mid-2013, almost 8 million people found jobs with 4.5 million in the euro area. The EU employment rate for those aged 20 to 64 years is now at about 71% – back to its 2008 level – but there are still very large disparities among Member States like Greece. In Greece it stands at 56% versus Sweden where it is 81%. Unemployment in the EU is at the lowest rate since March 2009 and stays at 8.6% with 1.6 million fewer unemployed people in the EU compared to the same time last year. Long-term unemployment and youth unemployment also continue to decrease.

Nevertheless, in August 2016, more than 4.2 million young people were unemployed and there were around 10 million long-term unemployed (unemployed for more than one year). While we are far from the Europe 2020 target of lifting at least 20 million people out of poverty or social exclusion by 2020, the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion is falling to the level of 2008 where we started off. Only last year, 3.5 million people came out of poverty.

Against this background, we emphasise the balance between flexibility and security in labour markets and we encourage the Member States to modernise their social safety nets and give a stronger role to activation measures. And we believe we need to go further. This is why we have launched a broad consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights aimed at screening our acquis to see how we can modernise our labour market and social security systems and make sure that there are not only better opportunities for job creation but also better support for citizens.

A third element of our policy triangle is responsible fiscal policies, balancing the need to avoid pro-cyclicality on the one hand and reduce public debt on the other. The EU’s average government deficit is forecast to continue decreasing this year and next. It is expected to stand at 2.1% of GDP in 2016 compared with 2.4% last year. The EU’s average public debt to GDP ratio is forecast to stabilise at around 86% of GDP in the EU this year and to start to decline gradually in 2017. Here I am referring to the spring economic forecast; as I said, the autumn economic forecast will be available in the first half of November. At the same time, when the economic cycle is taken into account, the fiscal stance in the EU is considered to be slightly expansionary: the right balance between keeping public finances healthy, while also recognising the subdued economic context.

The Commission values your support for the changes and improvements introduced in the European Semester since 2015. We have streamlined and simplified it, improved its democratic accountability and strengthened its social dimension.

We now present country reports much earlier than in the past, allowing a substantial discussion with the Member States. Fewer country—specific recommendations compared to the past result from better prioritisation on areas that require urgent attention. Social priorities, including two issues linked to unemployment and social inclusion, now occupy a greater place. The same is true for education and its links with the labour market. We now publish country-specific recommendations for the euro area at the same time as the Annual Growth Survey, allowing all euro area countries to develop a common understanding of the key macroeconomic challenges.

We have strengthened the dialogue with the Member States, the European Parliament, national parliaments and social partners. Personally, I systematically visit Member States and engage in discussions with all key actors at the national level and my colleagues do the same.

But even if the Semester has been improved over the past years, the degree of implementation of CSRs remains low. In the spring we found that the Member States made ‘limited to some progress’ in addressing the issues identified in the CSRs issued in 2015. And this progress varied across policy fields: most significant progress was observed in the areas of financial services and actual labour market policies, while definitely much more was expected to ensure a business and employment-friendly environment. In order to support a stronger reform implementation, the Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service stands ready to provide technical support upon request from a Member State. Our proposal for the Structural Reform Support Programme is now being discussed in the European Parliament. I trust in your support to bring it swiftly into place and make it available to all Member States in need.

The report we are discussing today also touches upon the Stability and Growth Pact and the ‘flexibility’ contained in its rules. The Commission will continue to use the ‘flexibility’ built into the Pact. This means, for example, taking into account the budgetary impact of the exceptional inflow of refugees or exceptional security needs. Let me also stress that a number of Member States benefit already from the ‘flexibility’ granted in relation to the implementation of major structural reforms and investment. The Commission will continue to apply these provisions where the conditions are fulfilled. However, all Member States should pursue responsible fiscal policies, in compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, putting public finances on a sustainable track and addressing the still high public debt in many Member States.

All Member States could still step up efforts to achieve a more growth—friendly composition of public finances: make their tax systems fairer, more transparent and effective in providing incentives for job creation, and also ensure that the money is spent in the most effective way. The high tax wedge on labour should be addressed as it weighs on labour costs and reduces the net take-home pay for employees. Your report also points to this issue. Euro area Member States have submitted their draft budgetary plans as planned, by mid-October. The Commission is now analysing these plans and will come up with an assessment as required by the regulation.

We will table a comprehensive policy package in November. I am confident that it will provide an answer to many of your concerns. We will publish the Annual Growth Survey accompanied by a Draft Joint Employment Report and the Euro Area Recommendations. Under the macroeconomic imbalances procedure we will publish the Alert Mechanism Report. It will identify the Member States for an in-depth review in the context of the country reports.

Finally, as announced in President Juncker’s State of the Union speech in March 2017, in time for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the Commission will set out a vision for the long term on how to strengthen and reform our economic and monetary union. You will, of course, be continuously involved in the European Semester, as will the national parliaments.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. – Mr President, thank you to our rapporteur, who mentioned the issues around investment and training, in particular digital skills, and then to the Council, who were saying about implementation. In particular I hope that will also involve infringement proceedings against Member States that do not implement rules that they have already signed up to.

I want to concentrate my time on the importance of the single market, critical to our economic success and therefore critical to European semester process. And why does this matter? Because we create one set of rules that covers 28 countries, that covers 500 million people. One set of rules, 28 countries, 500 million people, and that could be as diverse from public procurement to standardisation to mutual recognition of qualifications, to just mention a few issues. And why is that important? It is important to business because it creates certainty, and it is important to consumers because it guarantees quality. And that is why I find myself as a UK politician representing Scotland, it is such a tragedy at the moment that my country, the United Kingdom, could see itself pull itself out of the single market, a single market that it developed and shaped and helped to produce. And in Scotland alone – let me finish – the single market, our access to the single market guarantees 80 000 jobs in Scotland. 80 000 jobs are reliant on our access to the single market. That is why the single market matters. It matters to citizens to make it better, fairer and effective for all.

 
  
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  Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, autor projektu opinii Komisji Kultury i Edukacji. – Panie Przewodniczący! Mamy bez wątpienia duży kłopot – ponad cztery miliony młodych ludzi bez pracy, wiele wiele milionów mających pracę tylko tymczasową i jeszcze wielu wielu więcej, którzy mają pracę niesatysfakcjonującą. Ale pojawienie się instrumentu na rzecz młodzieży cieszy. Cieszy dlatego, że jeżeli widzimy problem, to będziemy go w stanie rozwiązać. Chcę także podziękować za uwzględnienie opinii Komisji Kultury w tej debacie, bo to pokazuje, że elementy edukacji, elementy związane z kreatywnością rynku są po prostu zauważane, dostrzegane i nie są lekceważone. Czego nam potrzeba? Po pierwsze środków ułatwiających młodym ludziom start zawodowy, a także praktyki. Należy zwiększyć poziom finansowania, także takich programów jak Erasmus+. Trzeba także podnieść atrakcyjność programów i studiów w zakresie nauk ścisłych, technologii, inżynierii, matematyki, czyli wszystko to, co buduje szanse na większy, lepszy rozwój gospodarczy Europy.

 
  
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  Markus Ferber, im Namen der PPE-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, Herr Vizepräsident, Herr Ratspräsident, liebe Kolleginnen, liebe Kollegen! Worum geht es denn beim Europäischen Semester? Es geht doch ganz banal – um das mal so zu sagen – darum, frühzeitig zu erkennen, ob es in den Mitgliedstaaten Fehlentwicklungen gibt, die dauerhaft dazu führen könnten, dass Staaten nicht mehr in der Lage sind, ihre Aufgaben selbst zu erfüllen. Deswegen bin ich der Kommission sehr dankbar, dass sie im Rahmen der länderspezifischen Empfehlungen das aufgegriffen hat, was wir auch als Parlament gefordert haben, nämlich eine Fokussierung auf wirklich wenige Punkte, und die aber auch deutlich anzusprechen.

Ich will mich ausdrücklich bei unserem Berichterstatter, dem Kollegen Sant, bedanken, der auch diese Idee mit aufgegriffen hat, zu fokussieren auf das, was wirklich im Rahmen des Semesterprozesses erreicht werden kann, und das auch zu tun.

Für uns als EVP-Fraktion ist der Dreiklang wichtig, Strukturreformen für mehr Wettbewerbsfähigkeit zu erreichen. Ich halte das für existenziell, wenn wir dauerhaft Beschäftigung nicht nur für junge Menschen, sondern für alle Menschen in der Europäischen Union schaffen wollen. Es geht darum, ein Umfeld zu schaffen, das Investitionen auslöst.

Ich bin sehr dankbar, Herr Vizepräsident, dass Sie nochmal darauf hingewiesen haben: Die Europäische Zentralbank hat ihre Aufgabe erfüllt. Aber in einer Reihe von Mitgliedstaaten ist eben noch nicht alles erfüllt, damit die niedrigen Zinsen der Notenbank auch als niedrige Zinsen in die Realwirtschaft fließen, um damit auch Investitionen auszulösen und Arbeitsplätze zu schaffen. Das ist ein ganz wichtiger Punkt. Das lösen wir nicht dadurch, dass die öffentliche Hand alleine mehr Investitionen schafft. Und deswegen, Herr Kollege Sant, ist der Doppelklang private und öffentliche Investitionen wichtig, nicht nur öffentliche Investitionen.

Drittens ist es für uns als EVP wichtig, eine verantwortungsvolle Haushaltspolitik zu führen, was das Kernelement des Europäischen Semesters ist. Und dabei gilt es, sich an den Starken zu messen und nicht an den Schwachen. Dann sind wir auf dem richtigen Weg.

(Der Redner ist damit einverstanden, eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“ gemäß Artikel 162 Absatz 8 der Geschäftsordnung zu beantworten.)

 
  
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  Tibor Szanyi (S&D), Kékkártyás kérdés. – Tisztelt Képviselő úr! Ön egyébként joggal szorgalmazza a tagállamok közötti gazdaságpolitikai együttműködést, de mi lehet annak a mágikus oka, hogy a legfontosabb egyik politika, az adópolitika tekintetében az Európai Unió nem képes előrébb lépni? Itt végül is egy olyan versenytorzító elemet hagyunk a rendszerben, ami tulajdonképpen ennek az egész Európai szemeszternek is majdhogynem az értelmét érinti. Magyarul: lát-e Ön esélyt arra, hogy adóharmonizáció tekintetében előrébb lépjünk?

 
  
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  Markus Ferber (PPE), Antwort auf eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“. – Ich komme aus einem Mitgliedsland, wo Sie offene Türen einrennen, wenn es darum geht, bei der Steuerpolitik weitere Fortschritte zu erzielen, dass die Steuerschlupflöcher, die wir in einer Reihe von Mitgliedstaaten in Europa haben, auch gestopft werden. Insofern ist das ein Prozess, den wir sehr begrüßen. Wir werden ja als nächsten Tagesordnungspunkt auch das Thema einheitliche Bemessungsgrundlage bei der Körperschaftsteuer haben, wo die Kommission ihre Beschlüsse von heute vorstellt.

Ich habe selber sowohl in den beiden TAXE-Ausschüssen als auch jetzt im Untersuchungsausschuss zu Panama genau diese Dinge mit vorangetrieben. Ich sehe nur nicht den Sachzusammenhang zum Europäischen Semester.

 
  
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  Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señor Presidente, señor Comisario, señores del Consejo, antes de intervenir en este debate he repasado las notas del año pasado, del mismo debate, sobre las recomendaciones específicas por país. Y, con ligeras diferencias, uno tiene la sensación de ser el protagonista de la película de Bill Murray Atrapado en el tiempo porque, con matices, de un año a otro, seguimos viviendo en la misma realidad en la que viven millones de ciudadanos: una recuperación que sigue siendo frágil, que sigue siendo lenta, que no llega a la inmensa mayoría de los ciudadanos, que perdura y hace que perduren las desigualdades a lo largo y ancho de la Unión Europea, especialmente en la zona euro.

Y esto se debe a que el Semestre Europeo tiene que consistir en algo más que en coordinar una lista de buenos deseos, de cosas que tendremos que implementar. Tiene que ser verdaderamente un conjunto de medidas que apliquemos con rapidez, con contundencia y con eficacia y, además, de manera justa porque, al final, el mayor problema que hemos detectado y llevamos detectando en este Parlamento Europeo es la desigualdad, que es además la causa común de casi todos los males que analizamos desde las instituciones europeas: del populismo, del euroescepticismo, incluso del proteccionismo —que hoy está aumentando en la Unión Europea en el rechazo, por ejemplo, de los acuerdos comerciales—, de las desigualdades que producen miedo, las desigualdades que producen parálisis y las desigualdades que producen eurofobia.

Y, por lo tanto, tenemos que hacer muchas más cosas de las que están en manos de los Estados miembros, fundamentalmente en lo que se refiere a tres aspectos: reducir las desigualdades mejorando la calidad del empleo, no solo creando empleos, sino mejorando la calidad, fundamentalmente los salarios.

Vivimos en un momento en el que además estamos viendo que el crecimiento proveniente de las exportaciones puede ralentizarse en los próximos tiempos. Y, por eso, no es una cuestión de justicia social, sino también de eficiencia económica, aumentar los salarios para mejorar la demanda interna y para aumentar la recuperación.

Necesitamos también una fiscalidad más justa que, como digo, grave no solo a las rentas medias y trabajadoras sino también a las rentas de capital y redistribuya más la riqueza, por cierto, combatiendo también la pobreza.

Y por eso volvemos a decir hoy a los Estados miembros que es imprescindible que fijen ya una renta mínima a nivel de los Estados miembros para sacar de la pobreza a los 120 millones de personas que hoy viven en riesgo de exclusión social. Luchando contra la pobreza, luchando contra las desigualdades, haremos un mejor semestre económico, porque no solo estaremos aumentando la recuperación sino que haremos que esta sea más justa y más decente.

 
  
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  Joachim Starbatty, im Namen der ECR-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, Herr Kommissar! Die Eurozone ist der Raum mit der geringsten Wachstumsrate und der höchsten Arbeitslosigkeit. Das ist das zentrale Problem, und wir haben das ja auch mit Herrn Sant diskutiert. Herr Sant war ein sehr fairer und offener Berichterstatter. Aber es gab einen zentralen Konflikt, den er selbst benannt hat. Nämlich, dass die Eurozone ein suboptimaler Währungsraum ist, oder wie ich es ausdrücke: Der Euro treibt die Mitglieder der Eurozone auseinander. In einigen Ländern ist der Euro überbewertet, in anderen ist er unterbewertet. In den unterbewerteten Ländern wird der Export subventioniert. In den Ländern mit überbewerteter Währung wird er besteuert. Es ist klar, dass hier nichts Ordentliches dabei herauskommen kann.

Es ist notwendig, dass wir ihn abwerten oder aufwerten müssten. Das geht aber nicht, stattdessen muss der Arbeitsmarkt für einen Ausgleich sorgen. Der Arbeitsmarkt ist das härteste Anpassungsinstrument, das wir kennen. Deswegen müssen wir zu einer anderen Politik übergehen. Wir müssen nicht mehr versuchen, die Eurozone zu retten, sondern Länder zu retten. Was ist dazu notwendig? Die Länder, die kein Wachstum haben, keine Beschäftigung haben, sollten aus der Währungsunion ausscheiden. Wir brauchen einen Schuldenschnitt, und wir brauchen eine Anschubfinanzierung.

Ich bin froh, dass die GUE-Fraktion einen entsprechenden Änderungsantrag – Änderungsantrag 19 – gemacht hat. Ich bin gespannt, wer aus diesem Hause diesem Änderungsantrag zustimmen wird. Ich frage bei der PPE-Fraktion nach, die ja doch für Wirtschaft und Freiheit sind, ob sie das unterstützt. Oder bei der ALDE-Fraktion. Ich bin gespannt, wer in diesem Hause morgen diesem Änderungsantrag der GUE-Fraktion zustimmen wird.

(Der Redner ist damit einverstanden, eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“ gemäß Artikel 162 Absatz 8 der Geschäftsordnung zu beantworten.)

 
  
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  Marco Valli (EFDD), Domanda "cartellino blu". – Signor Presidente, ringrazio il professor Starbatty per la sua spiegazione, che mi sembra molto autorevole, e volevo chiedergli – visto che lui è anche un esponente tedesco e quindi molto onesto intellettualmente a non difendere l'Unione economica monetaria – se a questo punto non conviene, piuttosto che andare verso un'integrazione molto difficile che continua a presentare gli stessi problemi, concordare insieme una disgregazione prima che avvenga in modo disordinato, grazie.

 
  
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  Joachim Starbatty (ECR), Antwort auf eine Frage nach dem Verfahren der „blauen Karte“. – Herr Valli, Sie haben ja selbst Anträge eingereicht, die genau beschreiben, wo das Problem der Eurozone liegt. Wenn man einfach so weitermacht und nicht den Tatsachen ins Auge sieht, dann wird das Ende der Eurozone schlimm sein. Man muss darauf vorbereitet sein – wie Sie das auch in Ihren Anträgen gemacht haben – die Eurozone geordnet zu sortieren, um eben Europa und die Währungsunion langfristig zu stabilisieren. Vielen Dank für Ihren Beitrag.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, in my Group we see with increasing preoccupation how the European Semester sinks into irrelevance. Our attitude as a European Chamber is not helping. We believe that this report is too inconcrete and too general – with nice words, yes, but nothing else. Today, the European Semester is complied with just as much as the OECD recommendations, which are morally voluntary.

The European Semester’s rate of success at fully implementing recommended reforms is only 6%, an embarrassingly low figure. Moreover, the report refuses to signal what problems each Member State has. Without name and shame, or name and price, Member States will not react and will care even less about our reports. As long as the European Semester is not reformulated to be more specific, doing real country-by-country analyses, these reports have no point and do not give added value to the EU.

This is why, while agreeing with some of the nice words referred to above, my Group abstained in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) vote two weeks ago. For the vote of tomorrow I have recommended that my Group abstain again. However, as many amendments of my Group have not been included and considered in the compromises, some members of my Group will vote against this report.

 
  
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  Paloma López Bermejo, en nombre del Grupo GUE/NGL. – Señor Presidente, son tiempos de paradojas en los que muchos quieren convencernos de una cosa y de su contraria: que es posible defender los derechos laborales mientras se precariza el empleo; que se está a favor de los servicios públicos cuando se aplican recortes; que se puede ser oposición y a la vez valedor de los gobiernos y las políticas de austeridad.

Su grupo, el Grupo Socialdemócrata, lleva tiempo bailando sobre estas contradicciones, pero no es posible reformar lo irreformable, vestir de un halo de legitimidad a las normas antidemocráticas de la gobernanza europea.

Una jaula de hierro que culpa a los países periféricos de sus problemas económicos, forzándoles a empobrecer a su propia población, mientras eximen al marco europeo, y su enorme concentración de recursos en los países del centro, de cualquier responsabilidad en la actual crisis.

Un mecanismo al servicio de los capitales nacionales europeos, pues la degradación de los derechos laborales en cualquier país se extiende rápidamente de un lado al otro del continente, forzando a los trabajadores a competir entre ellos.

Las actuales políticas de austeridad amenazan no solo a la Unión Europea, sino a la propia democracia, y para salir de ellas son necesarias la cooperación y la armonización de los derechos sociales entre los distintos países europeos. Es eso seguramente. Estamos de acuerdo con el ponente. Donde diferimos es en que eso sea posible dentro de la gobernanza europea. Ese chantaje permanente por el que mi país, España, se arriesga a perder fondos europeos necesarios para su desarrollo.

 
  
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  Ernest Urtasun, en nombre del Grupo Verts/ALE. – Señor Presidente, lo primero, dar las gracias al señor Sant, ponente del informe. Lo más grave de todo el proceso del Semestre Europeo creo que es, en estos momentos, la falta de democratización, lo que explica en parte sus pobres resultados. Yo creo que tenemos un problema gravísimo y necesitamos asociar más a los Parlamentos nacionales y, evidentemente, asociar más a los agentes sociales, si no, esto será siempre visto como una imposición con resultados muy pobres. Los resultados están en aquellos países donde ha habido un memorándum y se ha forzado a hacer reformas absolutamente demenciales. Pero el Semestre Europeo evidentemente tiene un nivel de cumplimiento relativamente bajo. Primer problema.

Segundo problema. El enfoque de la política económica de los últimos años ha sido totalmente equivocado. De la tríada que siempre se nos presenta: inversión, reformas estructurales y consolidación fiscal, hemos tenido en los últimos años una consolidación fiscal a unos niveles suicidas. Solamente se ha rebajado ahora al final por las políticas del Banco Central Europeo. Se trata de unas reformas devaluativas que han tenido además un altísimo coste social y una inversión totalmente inexistente.

Creo que aquí el informe sí acierta en decir que necesitamos poner el foco en la inversión porque la ratio de inversión por PIB, que cayó muchísimo entre 2008 y 2013, solo ha remontado ligeramente a partir del año 2014, pero seguimos a unos niveles aún muy bajos: en la Unión Europea un 2,6 %, inferior a los niveles previos a la crisis. Y el FEIE no ha sido una respuesta a eso. Por lo tanto, yo creo que aquí, evidentemente, hay que hacer una llamada a aumentar la inversión pública a aquellos países con un amplio superávit comercial: que impulsen su demanda interna. El informe eso dice, y yo me alegro, y también una cosa muy importante, que es que tenemos que hacer un cálculo agregado de toda la zona del euro, de cuál es la situación fiscal de toda la zona del euro, no de los países uno por uno. Creo que eso es extremadamente importante. Hay que invertir en educación, capital humano, innovación e I+D, porque si la única estrategia de competitividad de la zona del euro es competir por salarios bajos, esto es un auténtico desastre.

Yo quiero aquí señalar que es muy importante defender la negociación colectiva y las rentas mínimas, y parar de una vez la competencia salarial a la baja —como señala también el informe—. Y simplemente me añado a lo que dijo el mismo Presidente del Banco Central Europeo: «Es momento de subir los salarios en la Unión Europea». Creo que eso debería quedar claro.

Y finalmente, la última cosa que quiero señalar es que en el informe no se ha recogido ninguna de las enmiendas que mi Grupo había presentado en relación con los indicadores medioambientales del Semestre que esta Cámara ha votado, y me gustaría hacer un llamamiento a que mañana esas enmiendas sean votadas favorablemente, porque esos indicadores son extremadamente importantes.

 
  
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  Marco Valli, a nome del gruppo EFDD. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, innanzitutto, approfitto della presenza della Commissione e del Commissario per chiedergli cosa stanno aspettando a far rispettare le regole europee per quanto riguarda il surplus commerciale, visto che nell'Unione, in questa relazione anche è sancito, ci sono degli squilibri dovuti all'Unione economica e monetaria che non è completa. Questi squilibri generano un surplus commerciale eccessivo, sanzionato ed evidenziato anche dalle relazioni del Fondo Monetario e OCSE. Ecco, la Germania e Olanda hanno ripetutamente violato queste regole, però voi continuate a essere forti coi paesi deboli: blocchiamo i fondi a Spagna e Portogallo, rompiamo le scatole all'Italia, invece la Germania e l'Olanda continuano a fare questa distorsione.

In più, anche per quanto riguarda il deficit, se andiamo a vedere c'è il Presidente Juncker che va a dire che la Francia è la Francia e quindi può fare quello che vuole con le regole. Quindi le regole non funzionano, come non funziona il semestre. E posso capire la posizione dei tedeschi come Ferber, il collega che si è occupato con me della relazione, che sono a favore dell'austerità, a favore del patto di stabilità e crescita, ma non posso proprio capire come mai i socialisti sono ancora a favore di quello che c'è scritto in questa relazione, perché sempre il solito mantra da due anni a questa parte: più rigore, più austerità, più riforme, liberalizzazioni dei servizi, del mercato del lavoro, investimenti privati, svalutazioni dei salari, proteste.

Ma voi avete preso i voti per cambiare questo dogma relativo al patto di stabilità e crescita, avete preso i voti per fare una cosa, invece avete governanti come Renzi, in Italia, che vanno in giro a dire che vogliono cambiare le regole, poi c'è lo infilano in Costituzione nel 2012 sostenendo il pareggio di bilancio. Ulteriore riforma costituzionale adesso nel 2016 ancora i vincoli europei rimarcati in Costituzione. Ma cosa volete cambiare? Siete voi una cosa unica con questo progetto europeo che se non metterà al centro la discussione sull'euro e sugli squilibri, come ha detto Stiglitz, naufragherà e naufragherà purtroppo non ordinatamente. Bisogna mettersi d'accordo per trovare una soluzione per farlo in modo ordinato, altrimenti sarà un bel problema per tutti.

 
  
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  Burkhard Balz (PPE). – Herr Präsident! Die Botschaften, die aus dem Ausschuss für Wirtschaft und Währung gekommen sind, sind aus meiner Sicht klar: Wir unterstützen die Prioritäten, die die Europäische Kommission diesem Europäischen Semester 2016 gegeben hat. Und wir betonen, dass die Koordinierung der Haushaltspolitiken in Europa besser funktionieren muss. Wir erinnern daran, dass dies der eigentliche Kern des Europäischen Semesters ist, und dass dieser Kern auch darüber entscheidet, wie glaubwürdig Europa Wirtschaftspolitik betreibt. Wir stellen auch klar, dass mehr Koordinierung nicht weniger Verantwortung bedeutet.

Die nationale Verantwortung der Mitgliedstaaten ist und bleibt ein Schlüssel in der europäischen Bewältigung der Wirtschaftskrise. Kontrolle und Eigenverantwortung gehören untrennbar zusammen. Wer aktuell mehr Europäisierung in der Fiskalpolitik einfordert, begibt sich in einen Konflikt mit dem Souveränitätsanspruch der Mitgliedstaaten. Das ist die Realität. Das ist die Realität unserer geltenden europäischen Verträge, und folglich gilt es, das bestehende System zu stärken, nämlich das System der Eigenverantwortung und der Kontrolle.

Das Europäische Semester muss hier zukünftig eine wichtigere Rolle spielen. Wir kritisieren seit langem, dass die Bindewirkung des Europäischen Semesters fehlt. Der neue Zyklus dieses Semesters beginnt nun bald. Als EVP-Fraktion setzen wir darauf, dass die Europäische Kommission die Instrumente, die sie zur Hand hat, auch konsistent und konsequent anwendet.

Ja! Europa befindet sich in nicht einfachen wirtschaftlichen Zeiten. Doch bringen uns weder Ablenkungsmanöver noch Verzögerungstaktiken weiter.

Wir müssen deswegen die Herausforderungen genau benennen, selbst wenn dies auch häufig eine unangenehme Aufgabe ist. Und wir müssen die Probleme bei der Wurzel angehen. Denn nur dann haben wir die Möglichkeit, sie am Ende auch dauerhaft zu lösen. Dafür plädiere ich: für die nun anstehende unabhängige Evaluierung der Haushaltspläne der Mitgliedstaaten.

 
  
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  Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D). – Senhor Presidente, Senhor Vice-Presidente da Comissão, o relatório do nosso colega Alfred Sant tem razão no essencial. O investimento na Europa está aquém do necessário para um crescimento sustentável e inclusivo. É tempo de a política monetária do Banco Central Europeu ser acompanhada por uma política orçamental mais favorável ao crescimento.

Há neste relatório três mensagens que o Parlamento Europeu dirige a Comissão. A primeira é que a Comissão deve utilizar ao máximo a flexibilidade permitida pelas regras do euro. A segunda é que temos de reforçar o Plano Juncker, mas também garantir que ele beneficia as regiões menos desenvolvidas, em vez de agravar as divergências na Europa. E a terceira é que a Comissão deve ter em conta a posição deste Parlamento quando decidir sobre a suspensão dos fundos para Portugal e para Espanha.

Ora, a maioria deste Parlamento já se manifestou de forma clara contra essa suspensão que seria injusta, contraditória e contraproducente. No caso de Portugal, os fundos europeus são hoje responsáveis por 78 % do investimento público. Suspender os fundos é, por isso, suspender o crescimento. Seria uma injustiça, mas seria, além disso, um grave erro contra a economia e contra o projeto europeu.

 
  
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  Νότης Μαριάς ( ECR). –Κύριε Πρόεδρε, σύμφωνα με τη δέσμη μέτρων του Ευρωπαϊκού εξαμήνου για το 2016, κάθε κράτος μέλος της Ένωσης πρέπει να στοχεύει στην ενίσχυση της οικονομίας του και στην καταπολέμηση της ανεργίας. Ωστόσο, η μέχρι τώρα στάση της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης απέναντι στις χώρες του ευρωπαϊκού Νότου δεν βοηθάει καθόλου στην επίτευξη των στόχων του Ευρωπαϊκού εξαμήνου. Αντίθετα, η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση με τις πολιτικές λιτότητας που έχει επιβάλει έχει οδηγήσει στην αποδιάρθρωση των εργασιακών σχέσεων, στη μείωση των μισθών και των συντάξεων, στη διάλυση της απασχόλησης, καθώς και του κοινωνικού κράτους. Η εφαρμογή, επομένως, των στόχων του Ευρωπαϊκού εξαμήνου απέχει πολύ από την πραγματικότητα. Για να πετύχει ο στόχος της οικονομικής ανάπτυξης των κρατών μελών της Ένωσης θα πρέπει να εγκαταλειφθεί η μερκελική λιτότητα και το δρακόντειο σύμφωνο σταθερότητας που διέπουν όλες τις πολιτικές της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, καθώς και η φορομπηχτικές πολιτικές που επιβάλλονται σε χώρες όπως η Ελλάδα και πρέπει πλέον, αντίθετα, να προωθηθεί η οικονομική ενίσχυση των ευρωπαϊκών χωρών με αξιοπρεπείς μισθούς και συνθήκες εργασίας και λήψη μέτρων για την ενίσχυση του τριπλού κοινωνικού Άλφα.

 
  
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  Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (ALDE). – Afspraak is afspraak en regels zijn regels. Als we met elkaar afspreken dat we onze huishoudboekjes weer op orde gaan brengen en dat we structurele hervormingen nodig hebben om wereldwijd de concurrentie aan te kunnen, dan moeten we dat ook allemaal doen. Als lidstaten zich daar niet aan houden, dan is dat slecht voor het Europese draagvlak, maar vooral ook voor die landen zelf, want daarmee schuif je eigenlijk de rekening door naar je kinderen.

In die zin ben ik het eens met wat commissaris Dombrovskis heeft gezegd over investeringen. Maar ik wil er wel een waarschuwing bij geven: investeren is iets anders dan meer uitgeven. Onlangs zag ik bijvoorbeeld nog dat een lidstaat extra treinstellen aanschaft die hij eigenlijk niet nodig heeft, alleen maar om een noodlijdend bedrijf uit eigen land op de been te houden. Dat is wat mij betreft geen investering. Dat is domweg meer uitgeven en misschien zelfs wel een vorm van staatssteun.

Ik wil de commissaris dan ook oproepen om heel kritisch te blijven kijken naar alles wat onder investeringen wordt verstaan.

 
  
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  Miguel Viegas (GUE/NGL). – Senhor Presidente, para nós, o Semestre Europeu representa o principal entrave ao nosso desenvolvimento. Foram as exigências do euro impostas através do Semestre Europeu que estiveram na base de uma política de austeridade que representou para Portugal uma regressão de décadas em termos de investimento, de rendimento e de direitos sociais. Foram as regras do euro que estiveram na base de uma dívida que se tornou insustentável e que impediram políticas de relançamento da nossa economia com apoios efetivos aos setores produtivos fundamentais.

É o Semestre Europeu que está na base de uma operação em curso de chantagem intolerável à volta da nossa política orçamental. O relatório fala muito das recomendações por países, mas estas são muito claras: mais flexibilidade das leis laborais, mais privatizações nos transportes e congelamento dos salários. Não há racionalidade económica nesse Semestre Europeu. O Semestre Europeu, com o falso propósito de apoiar os países na sua política orçamental, representa antes um instrumento destinado a impor uma agenda neoliberal ao serviço do capital e que os povos irão, mais tarde ou mais cedo, rejeitar.

 
  
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  Luděk Niedermayer (PPE). – Mr President, first of all I must say that I consider the European Semester, and especially country-specific recommendations, as one of the key economic policies of the European Union, the policy that should contribute to the stability and growth of our economies. But this is also a policy that does not work properly. The policy is not delivering the goals and again I am speaking especially about country- specific recommendations.

I guess we all know the numbers. More than two thirds of recommendations are just ignored by the government. As a consequence we have economic growth that is too sluggish and below potential, we have unemployment that is too high, we have a lack of confidence in the economy and also a lack of confidence in the European Union. Last time, a year ago, when I was talking here, I had some doubts about the structure of the recommendations. This year I must say that I appreciate the work that has been done by the Commission. I reviewed a country-specific recommendation for countries that I know and I must say it is well done.

So where do we stand? We are in what is a quite a usual position for the European Union: we have a good, or at least reasonable, policy; we have all respect for that, and we have weak enforcement. The consequence is damage for all of us. I know it is a matter of subsidiarity but there is something we can do about it. We should focus on existing policy and implementation, and not invent more regulation, new policies and new reports. This will make life better for all of us.

 
  
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  Hugues Bayet (S&D). – Monsieur le Président, ce nouveau Semestre européen s'ouvre dans une atmosphère particulière. Va-t-on conclure un traité de libre-échange avec le Canada? On se pose la question. Nous savons que la Wallonie bloque et s'interroge.

Quel développement économique souhaitons-nous pour l'Union européenne? C'est exactement la même question que nous nous posons semestre après semestre, souvent malheureusement dans le vide, tant le credo économique semble imperturbable dans ses certitudes et bétonne une économie européenne au service des multinationales sous le sacro-saint dogme de l'austérité.

En Belgique, nous avons durement ressenti les résultats de cette manière de penser et de faire. Caterpillar a rayé en une journée des milliers d'emplois à Charleroi pour augmenter ses bénéfices, pourtant très confortables. Même manière de faire pour ING. Le banquier néerlandais a en effet supprimé des milliers d'emplois en Belgique pour rémunérer encore mieux ses actionnaires.

Pendant ce temps, qu'a-t-on fait pour les citoyens européens? On réduit de jour en jour les services publics, on manque d'investissement public productif partout en Europe et ce n'est pas moi qui le dit mais, par exemple, Matteo Renzi. En Italie, depuis 2008, l'investissement public a reculé de 43 % et c'est un problème. En France, les collectivités locales investissent autant qu'en 2006, soit un recul de dix ans; et en Belgique, on observe le même phénomène. Il est donc plus qu'urgent de relancer l'investissement public productif qui profite avant tout aux citoyens, mais aussi et surtout à l'économie.

Mon collègue Sant l'a dit: il faut revoir, comme le demandent de plus en plus d'acteurs, les normes comptables SEC 2010, qui empêchent les autorités publiques d'investir. Il faut créer un programme ambitieux d'investissements qui soit fondée sur l'innovation et les besoins réels comme la transition énergétique, la mobilité, l'emploi, la santé ou l'éducation et, enfin, mettre en place une fiscalité harmonisée en Europe pour lutter contre l'évasion fiscale. C'est de cette façon que nous nous en sortirons.

 
  
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  Ivana Maletić (PPE). – Gospodine predsjedniče, pozdravljam potpredsjednika, predstavnike Europske komisije i Vijeća. Iz godine u godinu ponavljamo isto i znamo da su preduvjeti rasta i investicije strukturne reforme, pametna fiskalna konsolidacija koja ostavlja prostor inovacijama, istraživanju i razvoju promišljenim politikama koje pomažu poduzetničke projekte i podižu konkurentnost. Isto tako, konstatiramo da se specifične preporuke ne provode, da treba više sinergije i koordinacije između europskih politika i instrumenata i isto tako i s nacionalnim politikama i proračunom. Što nedostaje? Što treba za kvalitetnije rezultate i bolju provedbu?

Smatram da za bolju provedbu i konkretne rezultate u praksi trebamo: 1. više konkretnih primjera uspješnih promjena i razvojnih projekata u državama članicama koje ističemo i kojima potičemo sve države članice da naprave slične iskorake; 2: više mjerila po kojima ćemo pratiti uspješnost koordinacije nacionalnih politika i EU ciljeva; 3: više razmjene znanja i iskustava, ne samo između država članica, nego korištenje i uspješnih primjera izvan Europske unije.

Zato me raduje prijedlog Komisije i uvođenje programa podrške za provedbu strukturnih reformi. Ovo je važan korak kojim pomažemo odgovoriti državama članicama na pitanje kako dizajnirati i provesti reforme. Treba nam još praktičnih instrumenata i poticajnih mjera, ali u okviru postojeće regulative, kojima ćemo izgraditi povjerenje i pojasniti želju i volju za promjenu.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D). – Ačiū, ponia pirmininke. Iš tikrųjų, mes siekiame ekonomikos augimo, darbo vietų ir kokybiškų darbo vietų, ir tikslas yra vienas – kad mūsų Europos Sąjungos piliečiai, dirbdami kokybiškose normaliai apmokamo darbo vietose, galėtų išlaikyti save ir savo vaikus. Bet ar taip yra? Labai noriu atkreipti dėmesį į vieną rekomendaciją, kurios būtinai reikia, kaip mes Kovosime su vaikų skurdu. Net dvidešimt šeši milijonai Europos Sąjungos vaikų skursta. Ir tam nedelsiant mes turime sukurti vaikų garantija, kad kiekvienas mūsų vaikas turėtų tinkamą sveikatos priežiūrą, kad turėtų ugdymą, tinkamą priežiūrą, tinkamas galimybės ugdymui, deramam apgyvendinimui ir tinkamai mitybai. Tai labai konkretus siūlymas.

Antras konkretus siūlymas. Moterų skurdo įveikimas. Komisija iš tikrųjų turi pateikti rekomendacijas valstybėms narėms, kad moterys dirbdamas gautų, na, tokį pat atlyginimą kaip ir vyrai, nes jos dėl to labai nukenčia. Tai dvi konkrečias rekomendacijos, kurias labai prašau įvertinti.

 
  
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  Κώστας Μαυρίδης ( S&D). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, θα ήθελα κατ᾽ αρχήν να ευχαριστήσω τον εισηγητή, γιατί αναγνωρίζουμε την προσπάθεια που έγινε για να φτάσουμε σε ένα συμβιβαστικό κείμενο. Όμως, πρέπει να επαναλάβουμε κάποια ζητήματα: Ποιος είναι ο στόχος που είμαστε εδώ και ιδίως στην ευρωζώνη; Να καταλήξουμε σε μια οικονομική σύγκλιση των οικονομιών και να έχουμε εμπλοκή των κρατών μελών στον σχεδιασμό των διαρθρωτικών μεταρρυθμίσεων. Και όσοι προβάλλουν τον ισχυρισμό ότι η διαχείριση της οικονομίας ενός κράτους μέλους είναι όπως η διαχείριση μιας εταιρείας, αυτό - για να μην πω ότι είναι αφέλεια ή σκόπιμη παραπλάνηση - είναι υπεραπλούστευση.

Αυτό με οδηγεί στο επόμενο σημείο το οποίο αφορά ιδιαίτερα την Επιτροπή: Μιλάμε για υπευθυνότητα και ανωμαλίες. Εφόσον η Επιτροπή θεωρεί ως ανωμαλία τα ελλείμματα των κρατών μελών θα πρέπει, κατ’ ανάλογο τρόπο, να θεωρεί ως ανωμαλία και τα πλεονάσματα των κρατών μελών.

Και μια τελευταία παρατήρηση, κύριε Πρόεδρε. Η πρόσβαση στα διαρθρωτικά ταμεία δεν μπορεί να ισοδυναμεί με τιμωρία αφ’ ης στιγμής οι αρχές που τα διέπουν είναι η αρχή της αλληλεγγύης και ο στόχος της κοινωνικής συνοχής.

 
  
 

Procedura „catch the eye”

 
  
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  Romana Tomc (PPE). – Evropa še vedno okreva po dolgotrajni gospodarski krizi, gospodarska rast namreč še vedno ni takšna, kot bi si jo želeli, in brezposelnost, posebej na nekaterih področjih, še vedno ostaja zelo visoka.

Potrebno je hitro in učinkovito ukrepanje, predvsem na tistih področjih, ki jih posebej izpostavlja to poročilo. Države članice po mojem mnenju še vedno premalo, nekatere vsaj, izkoriščajo priložnosti, ki jih ponujajo naložbeni skladi, predvsem EFSI. S tem bi omogočili veliko število novih delovnih mest in bolj dinamičen trg dela, boljše življenje našim državljanom in državljankam.

Zato pozivam Komisijo, naj se še bolj zavzame za spodbujanje tovrstnih naložb, države članice pa k temu, da prenehajo z birokratskimi ovirami. Opozorila bi pa samo še na nekaj, in sicer, da vedno znova pravim, da Komisija nima dovolj dobrih vzvodov, da bi tudi nadzirala obljube držav po reformnih ukrepih.

 
  
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  Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, the European semester at the process has prevented public investment at a time in Europe when we needed quite the opposite. We needed a Marshall Plan. We needed money put into our economies. We have an opportunity but were prevented from doing anything with this opportunity, and the opportunity is low interest rates. But there is another problem with this system, and when it comes to Ireland, the rules are enforced by the European Union, but when it comes to France and when it comes to Germany (and surpluses were mentioned earlier), there is nothing done, and this causes more problems than it solves. We have a homelessness problem in Ireland – we need massive public investment. As I have said already, we have low interest rates, so we are being forced to leave people homeless in Ireland, for children to live in car, for children to have to urinate in Coca Cola bottles and leave them outside the car, to be chased away by a parking attendant in the morning, because our government tells us: because of this abomination, we cannot break these rules. Break them – they are not good.

 
  
 

(Încheierea procedurii „catch the eye”)

 
  
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  Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, first of all I would like to thank you for this debate and as I said in my introductory remarks, from your report too we see that actually we share a number of concerns and a number of ways to address them.

A number of issues were raised during this debate, including how to facilitate investment and this is indeed one of the three priorities in our European Semester. The intention of the Commission is to continue to follow up on how we can promote investment through the Investment Plan for Europe, but also through the rules in the Stability and Growth Pact, which specifically allows for deviation from budgetary targets to promote more investment.

Issues related to the social dimension, dealing with the problems of poverty, of inequality, addressing the issues in our labour markets, are also featuring more prominently in the European Semester than was the case in previous years and the Commission intends to continue and follow up on this.

The question of current account surpluses was raised and this is indeed also the question which is being addressed by the Commission to countries like Germany and the Netherlands. It is something which is the reason why the Commission is pursuing in-depth reviews of the economies of those countries and also finding them to be experiencing macroeconomic imbalances. So this is certainly part of the picture.

In any case, the Commission intends to continue its work along the priority lines which have been set up, promoting investment, structural reforms and fiscally responsible policies.

 
  
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  Ivan Korčok, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, many thanks for this debate. This was indeed quite a valuable stock-taking where we could hear your views on how the European Semester is functioning and, above all, what we can achieve together within the European Semester when it comes to our common efforts to work on jobs and growth and economic prosperity.

Now we know where we are finding ourselves. First of all I would like to once again recall how much we value the revamped European Semester. I think that the changes the Commission introduced in 2015, last year, are very good because they help us better transform what we agree in the European Semester and then transform it into action at national level. I remember when the Semester started; it can hardly be compared in quality with the Semester that we are having right now.

Secondly, many of you have rightly pointed and appealed to Member States to better implement. This is once again well understood and legitimate. Nevertheless, I represent the Member States and you would agree with me that implementation is not a bureaucratic exercise. At the end of the day, it is hard to convince our people – our voters – to support reforms and structural reforms, how to observe fiscal rules that we have established ourselves, and this is very painful. So please understand why we have committed to better implement. At the same time, bear in mind that this is a very demanding process back home.

Lastly, I hope we will be able in the Council to draw on lessons from this year, this 2016 Semester, when preparing the next one. And the next one, I would like to announce, will be for the first time on the agenda of General Affairs Council in November.

 
  
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  Alfred Sant, rapporteur. – Mr President, I thank all participants in this debate for their very interesting contributions, as well as once again my friends and colleagues all the shadow rapporteurs. If anything, I hope that our work together in preparing for this report, as well as the debate in plenary, have served to underline once more the challenge of investment in Europe. When we talk about investment we are really talking about the future, for investment builds the foundations for future progress and for new achievements. We are also talking, however, about the present, for investment replaces and renews those resources which we need now to maintain the living standards of people.

When we say resources we mean material ones, human ones and those resources that relate to knowledge and techniques. The sad truth is that in Europe, as elsewhere, but certainly in Europe, investment in real terms has fallen well below the levels that it had reached, let us say, ten years ago. The shortfall covers both investment to replace what has been used up, as well as investment in new resources and utilities. Whatever our views about the available policy options, we have shown that we care about investment, that we consider it to be a priority. Perhaps there is also agreement that more must be done to promote and enhance it, though there is disagreement about how this challenge can be achieved.

I would like to acknowledge and support the emphasis that the Commission, in its initiatives and in its country-specific recommendations, has given to the topic of investment. Still, the Commission needs to do more, perhaps much more, and not simply by widening the EFSI instrument. It also needs, in my view, to affirm the need for more public investment that is sharper, better focused, better planned, better implemented. However, about this, not all agree.

Finally, I would think that from the debate that we have held on the country-specific recommendations, two other main issues can be underlined. First, there is the importance of allocating more resources to create a European investment culture, to renew investments in education and knowledge-based activities, not least in the digital field but also in the basic sciences, all tying into research and development as well as the quest for innovation. Secondly, there is the need to ensure that the country-specific recommendations are meaningful to all relevant actors so that they also own them. A central involvement should be given to subnational and to regional authorities.

 
  
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  Preşedinte. – Dezbaterea a fost închisă.

Votul va avea loc miercuri, 26 octombrie 2016.

Declarații scrise (articolul 162)

 
  
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  Barbara Kappel (ENF), schriftlich. – Der vorgestellte Jahreswachstumsbericht über die Koordinierung der Wirtschaftspolitik hebt in seiner Bestandsaufnahme der Wirtschaftslage in den Mitgliedstaaten einige durchaus verwertbare und nützliche Beobachtungen hervor. So werden im Rahmen des Europäischen Semesters nun drei Hauptprioritäten festgelegt, auf welche sich sowohl die Kommission als auch die Mitgliedstaaten konzentrieren, um das Wirtschaftswachstum wieder anzukurbeln. Es geht dabei um die Förderung von Investitionen, insbesondere in Innovation und Forschung sowie für KMU, die Schaffung von nachhaltigen Arbeitsplätzen, um der anhaltenden Arbeitslosigkeit entgegenzuwirken, und um sozial ausgewogene Strukturreformen in Kombination mit einer verantwortungsvollen Haushaltspolitik.

In diesem Zusammenhang wird im Bericht ausdrücklich betont, dass die Anzahl der von der Kommission an die Mitgliedstaaten ausgesprochenen Empfehlungen sich künftig auf Schwerpunktthemen von makroökonomischer und sozialer Tragweite begrenzen soll. Des Weiteren wird die nationale Eigenverantwortung durch die Einbeziehung nationaler Parlamente sowie regionaler und lokaler Behörden gefordert und der Anspruch gestellt, die einzelnen nationalen Reformprogramme in den jeweiligen Parlamenten der Mitgliedstaaten einer ordnungsgemäßen demokratischen Kontrolle zu unterziehen.

Anzumerkende Kritikpunkte in diesem Bericht finden sich im Bereich der Schwerpunktsetzung, wo der Berichterstatter beispielsweise eine Vollendung der Bankenunion fordert, bei der Umsetzung der länderspezifischen Empfehlungen, wo er der Europäischen Kommission weitere Befugnisse einräumt, und in der Migrationsfrage, durch die Arbeitsmigration einen Ausgleich zu den negativen Auswirkungen der Bevölkerungsalterung in den Mitgliedstaaten erkennt.

 
  
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  Jutta Steinruck (S&D), schriftlich. – Dauerhaft kann es keine Wirtschafts- und Finanzunion ohne eine Sozialunion geben. Die soziale Dimension ist ausschlaggebend für die Zukunft Europas. Die hohe Zahl von prekärer Beschäftigung und Arbeitslosigkeit sowie die Senkung von Sozialstandards haben tiefe Gräben in Europa gegraben. Armut und soziale Ausgrenzung sind nach wie vor auf einem historischen Hoch. Prekäre Arbeitsbedingungen sind eher die Regel als die Ausnahme.

Die reine Koordination der Wirtschafts- und Finanzpolitik reicht nicht aus, um diesen Problemen entgegen zu wirken. Wir müssen eine starke soziale Säule im Europäischen Semester verankern. Sozial- und Beschäftigungspolitik braucht genau die gleiche Verbindlichkeit wie die Finanzpolitik. Dazu müssen wir soziale Standards definieren, die für alle Arten von Beschäftigung gelten. Die soziale Säule muss die soziale Konvergenz wieder nach oben schrauben. Deshalb dürfen wir uns bei der sozialen Säule nicht nur mit einer Zusammenfassung bestehender Regeln zufrieden geben.

Auch der Grundsatz „gleicher Lohn für gleiche Arbeit am gleichen Ort“ muss endlich von der Kommission aufgenommen werden. Wenn wir der Schaffung von guten Arbeitsplätzen und damit dem Kampf gegen Armut oberste Priorität einräumen, dann gewinnen wir auch wieder das Vertrauen der Menschen in Europa.

 
  
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  Theodor Dumitru Stolojan (PPE), în scris. – Semestrul European a devenit un instrument pentru coordonarea politicilor economice ale statelor membre ale Uniunii Europene.

Semestrul European, ca proces, decurge bine până în momentul implementării. Aici încep problemele. Recent, Comisia Europeană a decis să nu propună sancțiuni pentru neîncadrarea a două state membre în graficul de reducere a deficitelor bugetare.

Din păcate, statele membre îndatorate, cu niveluri ale datoriei publice în jurul a sută la sută din produsul intern brut, iar unele cu mult peste sută la sută, cum sunt Grecia, Italia, Portugalia, nu doresc încă să acționeze hotărât pentru reducerea îndatorării. În acest fel, mențin starea de instabilitate pentru întreaga zonă euro.

În condițiile în care creșterea economică este încă anemică, reducerea datoriei publice necesită măsuri clare de restructurare a cheltuielilor publice, aducerea deficitelor bugetare sub control. Teoria că dacă cheltuiești mai mult, mărind datoria publică, vei obține o creștere economică care să te ajute, ulterior, să reduci datoria nu funcționează atunci când ești supra-îndatorat. Situația financiară din unele state membre este încă sustenabilă numai atât timp cât Banca Centrală Europeană menține neschimbate cele două politici de relaxare cantitativă și de dobânzi negative sau foarte mici.

 
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