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Procedure : 2014/2059(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0019/2014

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PV 21/10/2014 - 6
CRE 21/10/2014 - 6

Votes :

PV 22/10/2014 - 4.5
CRE 22/10/2014 - 4.5
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Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014 - Strasbourg Final edition
European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2014 priorities

European Parliament resolution of 22 October 2014 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2014 priorities (2014/2059(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and in particular Articles 121(2) and 136 thereof,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), in particular Article 3 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1175/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1466/97 on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary positions and the surveillance and coordination of economic policies(1),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2011/85/EU of 8 November 2011 on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1174/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 on enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the euro area(3),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 1177/2011 of 8 November 2011 amending Regulation (EC) No 1467/97 on speeding up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1173/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 on the effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance in the euro area(6),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 6 December 2012 on An Action Plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion (COM(2012)0722),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2014 concerning the role and the operations of the Troika(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2013 on improving access to finance for SMEs(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2014 on Single Market governance within the European Semester 2014(9),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 473/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficit of the Member States in the euro area(10),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 472/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States in the euro area experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability(11),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2014 on country-specific recommendations 2014 (COM(2014)0400),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2014 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2014(12),

–  having regard to the debate with representatives of national parliaments on the implementation on the 2014 priorities of the European Semester,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(13),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 30 July 2014 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on Guidelines on the application of the measures linking effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment Funds to sound economic governance according to Article 23 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 (COM(2014)0494),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 14 September 2011(14) and of 16 January 2014(15) on an EU Homelessness Strategy,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 13 November 2013 entitled ‘A Single Market for growth and jobs: an analysis of progress made and remaining obstacles in the Member States – Contribution to the Annual Growth Survey 2014’ (COM(2013)0785),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2014 entitled ‘2014 European Semester: Country-specific recommendations – Building Growth’ (COM(2014)0400),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0019/2014),

A.  whereas fiscal sustainability and smart compliance with the EU fiscal and macroeconomic surveillance framework is essential to the proper functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU);

B.  whereas enhanced coordination between Member States’ macroeconomic and budgetary policies and a comprehensive, Commission-led policy for the euro area is needed in order to achieve a genuine EMU;

C.  whereas the European Semester plays an essential role in coordinating economic and budgetary policies in the Member States;

D.  whereas increasing overall unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, remains a major threat to economic and social stability and convergence in the EU;

E.  whereas, youth unemployment has to be addressed in a pro-active manner, thereby enhancing and extending the current framework of cooperation between national authorities responsible in this field;

F.  whereas, in the context of persistently high debt and unemployment levels, low nominal GDP growth and inflation significantly below the target level, and the high level of people at risk of poverty as well as the challenges of an ageing society and of supporting job creation, particularly for young people, fiscal consolidation must continue in a growth-friendly and differentiated manner;

G.  whereas the spirit of the European Semester entails a commitment to economic solidarity among Member States and whereas they bear a responsibility proportionate to their respective contributions to the overall economic performance of the Union;

H.  whereas the priorities for this year’s European Semester were established by the European Council in March, and were reconfirmed in June; whereas the emphasis is on policies that enhance competitiveness, support job creation and fight unemployment, and on the follow-up to reforms to improve the financing of the economy and the functioning of labour markets;

I.  whereas the Europe 2020 strategy is one of the elements of the EU’s response to the global economic crisis and future challenges and whereas the Commission acknowledges that most of the EU 2020 Strategy objectives will not be met;

J.  whereas the global financial crisis and the banking and debt crisis in the EU have significantly hampered access by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to financial resources;

K.  whereas the European Parliament has several times requested the strengthening of the governance framework;

L.  whereas single market, especially as regards services, is not fully operational;

M.  whereas, after six years of economic crisis and negative growth rates, the economic recovery is slowly gaining ground and is expected to spread to all the Member States by 2015; whereas the Commission’s forecasts for the economic recovery are still fragile and the reforms must continue in order to meet citizens’ employment and social demands and restore productivity and competitiveness; whereas the Commission recognises that the social situation is depressed in many parts of the EU, that unemployment has reached unprecedented heights and that the divergences among regions and Member States are growing; whereas measures to tackle this employment and social situation would facilitate competitiveness and growth prospects;

N.  whereas, notwithstanding a mild decline, EU unemployment and youth unemployment rates are still incredibly alarming (25,005 million unemployed in the EU‑28 in June 2014 and 5,06 million unemployed young people in the EU-28 in July 2014); whereas, furthermore, the differences between Member States’ general and youth unemployment rates (5 % unemployment in Austria, compared with 27,3 % in Greece; 9,3 % youth unemployment in Austria, compared with 53,8 % in Spain) represent a major risk both for the EU’s economic stability and for European social cohesion;

O.  whereas the Commission points to the role of innovation, research and development in generating added value, and to the fact that growing skills mismatches are particularly affecting knowledge-based sectors;

P.  whereas labour market fragmentation is now one of the major causes of inequality between Member States and between different sectors; whereas this is demonstrated by the divergences in access to employment (including high entrance hurdles) and in working conditions and wage levels, which are sometimes insufficient to guarantee decent living standards, and by the growing polarisation between low- and high-skilled work, which can prevent movement within the labour market; whereas reforms are still necessary in order to put an end to such fragmentation;

Q.  whereas the setting of a minimum wage is a competence of the Member States;

R.  whereas EU legislation on working conditions, discrimination, and health and safety in the workplace grants workers protection from exploitation and discrimination, and helps to facilitate the integration of groups such as women and people with disabilities into the labour market; whereas the cost of workplace accidents and occupational ill-health is estimated to represent between 2,6 % and 3,8 % of GDP, while it is estimated that companies receive a return of EUR 2,2 for every euro spent on implementing health and safety standards;

S.  whereas the economic and financial crisis has highlighted the fragility of public finances in some Member States;

T.  whereas, in order to tackle the crisis, some Member States have made severe cuts in public expenditure at the same time as demand for social protection has increased in response to the rise in unemployment; whereas national budget allocations for social security cover have been further stretched as contributions have fallen in the wake of wide-scale job losses or wage cuts;

U.  whereas the Commission stated in its communication of 2 June 2014 (COM(2014)0400): ‘The effects of the crisis and of policy measures on the economic and social situation have an impact on levels of inequality. The structural nature of certain forms of unemployment, limitations of access to education and healthcare, certain tax‑benefits reforms may all weigh disproportionally on the more vulnerable parts of society.’;

V.  whereas Article 9 TFEU provides that ‘[I]n defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health’, and whereas it is important to implement this horizontal clause sufficiently in all policy areas so as to achieve the objectives of Article 3 TEU; whereas Article 174 TFEU provides that: ‘In order to promote its overall harmonious development, the Union shall develop and pursue its actions leading to the strengthening of its economic, social and territorial cohesion. […] particular attention shall be paid to rural areas, areas affected by industrial transition, and regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps such as the northernmost regions with very low population density and island, cross-border and mountain regions.’;

W.  whereas only 7,5 million people – 3,1 % of the EU workforce – are currently employed in another Member State, and whereas young people are the group most likely to be mobile;

X.  whereas, as a result of the crisis, SMEs and micro-enterprises face extremely high costs in order to access finance and have difficulty doing so, thus hampering their ability to grow and create jobs; whereas the Commission and the Member States consequently need to support SME development, with the aim of promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth and quality employment in the EU in accordance with the Europe 2020 goals;

1.  Notes the analysis that economic recovery in the EU had encouraging signs in the previous two years and is worried about the slow down since the first quarter of 2014 in a context where the zero-lower bound has been reached and very low inflation rates are generalised; reiterates, however, that this recovery is very fragile and uneven, and must be sustained in order to deliver more growth and jobs in the medium term;

2.  Underlines that an ambitious initiative for triggering investment across the EU is urgently needed to relaunch and sustain economic recovery; calls on the Commission to urgently set in motion a European investment program of EUR 300 billion as proposed by Jean-Claude Juncker to contribute to the short term recovery of European growth;

3.  Notes that the most important targets of economic policy are to restore the Member States’ competitiveness and reduce unemployment;

4.  Stresses that the challenges of the current economic situation, characterised by sluggish GDP – stable in the eurozone and rising by 0,2 % in the EU-28 during the second quarter of 2014 – remarkably low inflation – down to 0,3 % in August 2014, its lowest level since November 2009 – and unacceptably high unemployment – 11,5 % in the eurozone and 10,2 % in the EU-28 in July 2014 – have to be addressed urgently;

5.  Urges once again the Commission to ensure concrete recommendations to the Member States and for the EU as a whole, including those under economic adjustment programmes, so that they not only address fiscal consolidation but also structural reforms that lead to real, sustainable and socially balanced growth, employment, strengthened competitiveness and increasing convergence;

6.  Takes notes of the far reaching structural reforms implemented by Member States under the macroeconomic adjustment programmes; finds it regrettable that some Member States in the rest of the euro area lack ambition in modernising their economies, which is one of the reasons for the low sustainable growth prospects in the medium and long term;

7.  Regrets that the euro area and the EU risk falling further behind other regions in terms of economic prospects and opportunities, making the EU less attractive for investment from within and outside the EU;

8.  Stresses that the financial, sovereign debt and competitiveness crisis cannot be solved by means of a loose monetary policy alone; Stresses, therefore, the importance of continuing the process of deep, balanced and socially sustainable structural reforms to deliver on growth and jobs; reiterates, in this connection, the fact that the EU cannot compete on costs alone, but needs to invest much more in research and development, industrial development, education and skills, and resource efficiency, both at national and European level; recalls that the very aim of structural reforms and decreasing the level of public and private debt should be to be able to focus on sustainable growth friendly policies and ultimately provide jobs and fight poverty; calls on the Commission and the Member States to exploit more fully the potential of promotional banks to stimulate the economy in the European Union;

9.  Recalls that the EU 2020 priorities and targets such as fighting poverty and social exclusion remain valid and should be implemented;

10.  Underlines, once again, the fact that the excessive indebtedness in several Member States in the euro area is not only an obstacle to growth but also puts a huge burden on future generations; is still concerned at the lack of progress in reducing excessive private debt levels;

11.  Reiterates, therefore, the fact that Member States should pay particular attention when devising economic policies and reforms as regards the impact on this and future generations including their needs for good living conditions and job opportunities; our societies’ future must not be put at risk by non-decisions and political errors in the present;

12.  Welcomes that Jean-Claude Juncker in his political guidelines for the next European Commission announced his commitment to enhance European investment by EUR 300 billion;

13.  Underlines the fact that the EMU is far from complete and reminds the Commission of its obligations and commitments to take into account macroeconomic imbalances inside the EU and notably the eurozone to enhance economic and budgetary coordination and strengthen competitiveness in the EU; welcomes, in this respect, the commitment by the next President-elect of the Commission to deliver on the roadmap set out the report of 5 December 2012 entitled ‘Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union’;

14.  Calls again on the Commission to put forward proposals for the completion of the EMU without delay in accordance with all the guidelines in its blueprint on a deep and genuine EMU; notes that the completion of the EMU should be based on the community method; Reiterates once more its demand for a legal act on ‘convergence guidelines’ to be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure, laying down, for a set period, a very limited number of targets for the most urgent reform measures and its request that the Member States ensure that the national reform programmes should be established on the basis of the aforementioned convergence guidelines and verified by the Commission; calls on the Member States to commit themselves to fully implementing their national reform programmes; suggests that, on this basis, the Member States could enter into a ‘convergence partnership’ with the EU institutions, with the possibility of conditional funding for reform activities; reiterates that such stronger economic cooperation should go hand in hand with an incentive-based financial mechanism; considers that any additional funding or instruments, such as a solidarity mechanism, must be an integral part of the EU budget, but outside the agreed multiannual financial framework (MFF) envelope;

15.  Calls, in this connection, on the future Commission to put forward a proposal on the single external representation of the euro area based on Article 138 TFEU; with the aim to have an efficient euro area with a common position on issues within the range of the competences of this representation; recalls that the new President of the Commission pledged for "the EMU and the euro to be represented by one chair, by one place, by one voice in the institutions of Bretton Woods" in his speech just before being elected by the European Parliament on Tuesday 15th July 2014;

16.  Calls, in this connection, on the future Commission to put forward, inter alia, a proposal on the single external representation of the euro area based on Article 138 TFEU as well as to present the report committed in the 'two pack' and the roadmap 'Towards a Genuine EMU' on the possibilities offered by the Union's existing fiscal framework to balance public investments needs with the fiscal discipline objectives;

17.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen the European Semester process by, inter alia, making sure that sufficient time and resources are allocated to the design and follow-up to the recommendations, thereby making the recommendations as relevant as possible for EU- and national-level economic policy-making; calls on the Commission to submit proposals on ways in which the recommendations of the European Semester could be made more binding; stresses the importance of involving the European Parliament at an early stage and to the greatest extent possible, so as to prevent – given Parliament’s growing significance and binding role – the emergence of a legitimacy gap in the political opinion-forming process;

18.  Believes that ownership of the CSR by national parliaments needs to be strengthened; calls on the Commission to provide the possibility to present the CSRs in the national parliaments before their adoption by the Council;

19.  Notes the 2014 package of country-specific recommendations (CSRs) by the Commission; notes the Commission’s assessment that some progress has been achieved in sustaining fiscal consolidation and structural reform, particularly in modernising labour markets, pension and health care systems;

20.  Notes in this context the European Council’s endorsement of the CSRs and the recommendations by the Council, particularly the specific recommendations on the euro area;

21.  Points out that a necessary condition for the success of financial assistance programmes is a combination of solidarity and conditionality, strong ownership and commitment to reform; recalls the Commission to fully align the legal obligations arising from the "two-pack" (Regulation (EU) N° 472/2013) with the current adjustment programmes; urges the Commission and the Member States, to incorporate financial assistance and the ad hoc system of the Troika into an improved legal structure compliant with the EU economic governance framework and community law, thereby guaranteeing democratic accountability; takes note on the Commission's follow-up document to the EP Troika report; calls on the Commission to take into account the conclusions of the Troika reports of the European Parliament;

22.  Supports the objective of placing emphasis on policies that enhance competitiveness, support investment and job creation, fight unemployment and improve the functioning of the labour market in particular in sectors with high growth potential; believes that Member States possess valuable information to share in combating youth unemployment; stresses that the dual-track training model has proved particularly valuable in combating youth unemployment;

23.  Stresses that cohesion policy represents a prominent investment framework for channelling growth friendly expenditure, including investments in innovation and research, digital agenda, expenditure to facilitate the access of SMEs to finance, investments in environmental sustainability, in priority Trans-European Transport links, as well as in education and social inclusion;

24.  Calls on the Commission to put in place a comprehensive mechanism promoting the exchange of best-practices between all national actors responsible in the field of youth unemployment; reiterates the fact that although a one-size-fits-all solution cannot be implemented, certain Member States have addressed youth unemployment in a more effective way than others;

25.  Underlines the need to fully take into account the Europe 2020 Strategy in the implementation of the European Semester; urges the Commission to make Single Market governance too as a key priority, since it contributes substantially to reaching the targets of the European Semester, namely sustainable economic growth and employment;

26.  Recalls, however, that Member States’ track record of implementing the CSRs is very low; believes that there is an inconsistency between European commitment and national implementation of the CSRs by Member States; stresses the importance of ‘national ownership’ by the relevant governments of EU‑level commitments; points out that CSRs should be formulated so as to provide policy space to Member States for designing the measures and specific reforms required for addressing such recommendations;

27.  Calls in particular the Commission to explore the development of result oriented common benchmarks to measure and compare structural reforms in the framework of any forthcoming proposal aiming at enhancing economic policy coordination in the EMU;

28.  Is concerned that, according to the Commission, only 10 % of the CSRs for 2013 have been fully implemented; notes, furthermore, that 45 % of CSRs have seen limited or no progress;

29.  Underlines the fact that a proper, democratically accountable system for the European semester as well as the implementation of CSRs is an important condition for achieving economic convergence in the EMU, which is key to the proper functioning thereof, allowing for financial and economic stability and a high level of competitiveness for the European economy that is conducive to growth and jobs; looks to Member State governments to actively defend and implement at national level decisions on CSRs which have been adopted by all Member States in the Council (‘national ownership’);

30.  Underlines the fact that a number of CSRs are based on EU legal acts and that failure to act upon EU legal acts may result in legal procedures; reminds Member States to deliver on their legal obligations under EU law; believes that the Commission, in its reading of the scoreboard, should take sufficiently account of the fact that the euro area and the Member States included therein are interdependent and open economies;

31.  Calls on the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to make full use of all measures provided for in EU law to support enhanced economic policy coordination and the implementation of the CSRs so that all Member States adopt within the required time frame economic and financial policies tailored to their situation;

32.  Notes a growing number of CSR addressed to the regional level; underlines the need to make full use of the new European Structural and Investment Funds programmes, especially where they would be used as flanking measures for structural reforms; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the correct setting of priorities to enhance the quality of spending;

33.  Requests that the Commission reports on a quarterly basis in Parliament’s competent committee on the measures taken to ensure progress on the implementation of the CSRs and on the progress achieved thus far; invites Member States to explain the reasons for non-compliance with the CRSs in Parliament’s competent committee;

34.  Calls on the President of the Eurogroup to effectively monitor the implementation of the CSRs by the Member States of the euro area, and to report on the progress made as part of the assessment by the Eurogroup of the draft 2015 budgetary plans, to be submitted by mid-October 2014 by the Member States concerned;

35.  Calls on the Commission to pay attention to the gender dimension in their National Reform Programmes such as integrating women in the workforce, eliminating the gender pay and pension gap, improved childcare services and flexible working time arrangements;

36.  Believes that with regard to the forthcoming European Semester, a long-term and balanced strategy for growth- and investment-friendly fiscal consolidation should be pursued to improve fiscal sustainability; stresses, however, the fact that special emphasis should be placed on growth-enhancing reforms and policies especially by those Member States that have fiscal space to invest in order to promote growth and facilitate rebalancing in the Euro area; points out that the existing legal framework makes it possible, provided reforms have been initiated, to allow Member States a degree of flexibility, and urges that this flexibility should be exploited;

37.  Underlines that fiscal sustainability is a prerequisite for a long term growth;

38.  Considers that the priority of the Member States should be to modernise their economies, social security systems, pension systems and health care, in order to avoid placing an excessive burden on future generations; calls on Member States to consider the impact of their reforms on the European economy as a whole;

39.  Believes that structural reforms should particularly be targeted at improving labour markets’ capacity to integrate young people as well as other excluded groups into the workforce and should be able to present opportunities to older workers; takes the view that the system combining education with vocational training is a particularly effective way of achieving this aim; believes, also, that structural reform should be aimed at the mid- and long-term sustainability and fairness of social security, health-care and pension systems as well as reducing energy dependence to increase the competitiveness of European enterprises making job creation the absolute priority;

40.  Points out that the absence of a well functioning internal labour market and of a sustainable approach to immigration hampers growth in the EU; calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish a common and inclusive labour market and a common modern and inclusive immigration policy; underlines that fair and equal treatment of workers is crucial to building an internal labour market;

41.  Observes that energy policy and economic growth are closely related; urges therefore that an ambitious European energy policy should be pursued which, by increasing security of supply and innovation in the energy sector, can bring about greater economic stability and growth;

42.  Observes that no serious work has yet been done on the extent to which demographic trends are responsible for the regular decline in growth which has been experienced by European countries in the past two decades; stresses that the lack of a functioning internal labour market also damages the Union’s potential for growth; calls on the Commission and Member States to establish a genuine common labour market and to mobilise all the Union’s resources in order to implement a common immigration policy in the spirit of the proposals made by the President-elect;

43.  Stresses, once again, its call on Member States to simplify their tax systems so as to restore a favourable environment for undertakings in all Member States without exception, and reiterates its call to reduce taxes on labour; calls on the Commission drawing from the experiences of delivering on the 2012 Action Plan in this to take urgent action and develop a comprehensive strategy based on concrete legislative measures to fight tax fraud and tax evasion; reminds the Commission of the proposals made in Parliament’s resolution of 21 May 2013 on fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax havens(16) (Kleva Kekus report) with regard to tax evasion and avoidance;

44.  Reiterates the fact that structural reforms must be complemented and articulated by longer-term investment in education, research, innovation, a modern infrastructure and sustainable energy to enhance digital and ecological transition; underlines that investment in research, innovation, education and infrastructure is a prerequisite for competitiveness, sustainable growth and job creation; stresses the role that must be played by the Union budget in these fundamental fields of common interest;

45.  Stresses the fact that the already high levels of public debt do not allow for a significant increase in spending, if the reform and consolidation efforts are not to be in vain; recommends, therefore, a shift in spending from non-productive to productive future-oriented sectors; underlines that flexibility exists within the Stability and Growth Pact and should be used, but requires primarily Member States to come up with credible reform;

46.  Notes the speech by the President of the ECB at the annual central bank symposium in Jackson Hole on 22 August 2014; calls on policy makers to draw the right conclusions with regard to monetary, budgetary and structural reform policies with the aim of creating growth and jobs; recalls the balanced remarks stating: "no amount of fiscal or monetary accommodation, however, can compensate for the necessary structural reforms in the euro area" and "a coherent strategy to reduce unemployment has to involve both demand and supply side policies, at both the euro area and the national levels. And only if the strategy is truly coherent can it be successful.";

47.  Believes that one of the biggest limitation on the EU economy is the low level of overall private investment and the lack of leverage effect from the public investment at the current level; invites the Commission to investigate on the reasons of the weak level of private investment in the EU; stresses the need of reform of bankruptcy and insolvency procedures in order to deal with the debt overhang in the euro-area periphery;

48.  Underlines the fact that investment is important, as it works on the supply and demand side of the economy creating jobs, generating incomes for households, increasing tax revenue, helping governments consolidate and boosting growth; reiterates the need to adopt investor-friendly policies, cut red-tape and reduce administrative burden; calls on the next European Commission to enhance European investment by EUR 300 billion as announced in the political guidelines by Jean-Claude Juncker;

49.  Calls on the Commission finally to deliver on its commitment to complete the single market, particularly as regards services; urges the Member States to deliver on their commitments on the EU 2020 strategy, particularly with regard to research and development, resource efficiency, innovation, employment, education, poverty, renewable energy and emissions reduction; therefore, calls on the Commission to step up its actions in ensuring the proper implementation and enforcement of EU legislation in the Member States by making determined use of all its powers;

50.  Is concerned about protectionist tendencies in certain Member States especially as regards free movement of people; points out that the Treaty guarantees the free movement of people, services or capital, and recalls that the Commission must safeguard and enforce these freedoms;

51.  Underlines the fact that a lack of access to finance, particularly for SMEs, poses a huge obstacle to growth in the EU; calls therefore for the Commission to prioritise work on alternative sources of financing for SMEs taking into account the recommendations of the European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2013 on improving access to finance for SMEs, in particular through the structural funds, the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and public development banks; stresses the need to do away with even more of the bureaucratic obstacles facing small and medium-sized undertakings and to apply the principle of proportionality more strictly in EU law-making in the future;

52.  Believes that urgent reforms should be envisaged for all those states where the difficulties for the creation of enterprises hamper potential growth and job creation.

53.  Calls on the Commission urgently to propose measures to complete the internal market for capital to improve the allocation of capital to businesses in order to revitalise the real economy; believes that further alternatives to bank financing are needed for both large and small and medium-sized undertakings, particularly by improving the conditions for financing through the capital markets and other private sources such as venture funds, peer to peer or equity funds; calls for particular attention to the role of cost of capital for starting and running businesses across Member States and updating the scoreboard accordingly;

54.  Underlines the upmost importance of setting up the legislation on long-term investments.

55.  Stresses the importance of the expedition and completion of the banking union; notes that approval of the three pillars of the banking union and implementation of new rules for credit institutions and insurance companies can help to restore the resilience of the European financial sector; believes that completion of the banking union must be achieved by means of an insurance and markets union; reiterates that the cost of failure of banking institutions should be borne by the banking sector itself;

56.  Stresses the fact that a solid, stable, well diversified and transparent financial system is crucial for future growth;

57.  Stresses the fact that the European Semester must in no way jeopardise the prerogatives of the European Parliament or those of the national and regional parliaments; underlines the fact that there should be a clear division between EU and national competences, and that European Parliament is the seat of accountability at Union level whereas national parliaments are the seats of accountability at the level of the Member States; stresses the importance of formally and properly involving the European Parliament at an early stage and to the greatest extent possible in order to increase the democratic legitimacy;

58.  Stresses the need to strengthen democratic accountability to the European Parliament and the national parliaments as regards essential elements of the euro area’s operation, such as the European Stability Mechanism, Eurogroup decisions, and the monitoring and evaluation of financial assistance programmes; asks the Commission to conduct and publish ex-post evaluations of its recommendations and its participation in Troika;

Sectoral contributions to the European Semester 2014

59.  Welcomes the Commission’s recognition that fiscal consolidation must continue in a growth-friendly and differentiated manner, which will allow Member States not only to invest in growth and job creation but also to tackle high debt, unemployment and the challenges of an ageing society;

60.  Highlights the job potential of the green economy, which according to Commission estimates could create 5 million jobs by 2020 in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors alone, provided that ambitious climate and energy policies are put in place; calls on the Member States to ensure sufficient levels of investment in these sectors and to anticipate workers’ future skills; calls on the Commission to include exploiting the job potential of the green economy in the 2015 Annual Growth Survey (AGS);

61.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission takes into account the divergences between Member States apparent in the National Reform Programmes (NRPs), but calls on the Commission and the Member States to pay special attention to those regions with permanent natural or demographic handicaps, in particular when considering fund allocations;

62.  Stresses that social and employment policies should not be looked at merely from a cost perspective, but that consideration should also be given to structural labour market reforms and long-term benefits, in order to maintain investments in society and its citizens with a view to achieving the Europe 2020 goals and safeguarding the future and stability of the Member States and of the EU as a whole;

63.  Emphasises that while wages are an important variable in resolving macroeconomic imbalances in the eurozone, they are not merely a tool for economic adjustment but above all the income workers need to live on; calls on the Commission to ensure that recommendations relating to wages do not increase in-work poverty or wage inequalities within Member States, or harm low-income groups;

64.  Is deeply concerned that the EU is a long way from achieving the employment and social targets of the Europe 2020 strategy, and that the poverty reduction target in particular is lagging behind, given that the number of people living in poverty increased by 10 million between 2010 and 2012 rather than decreasing; calls on the new Commission to adopt a consistent approach and to ask the Member States to report immediately on national progress with regard to the Europe 2020 strategy; calls on the Member States to establish – in their NRPs – well‑defined national strategies for moving forward with the Europe 2020 strategy, especially as regards poverty reduction;

65.  Welcomes the Commission’s use of the new employment and social scoreboard for this year’s CSRs, in particular the references to general and youth unemployment rates and NEET levels; notes that these indicators are purely analytical; calls for the inclusion of additional indicators – such as quality of work, child poverty levels, access to healthcare, and homelessness – in the scoreboard; calls for these indicators to have a real influence on the whole European Semester process;

66.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to continue to improve the indicators used to monitor the social, environmental and innovation dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy as part of the European Semester; calls on the Commission to continue the debate on the number and development of social and employment indicators, given that economic and social aspects of the EU are two sides of the same coin, both of which play a key role in the EU’s development;

67.  Reiterates its call for a meeting of the Eurogroup employment and social affairs ministers to be held prior to euro summits whenever necessary, so as to ensure that social and employment concerns are addressed more fully in the discussions and decisions of the eurozone authorities, and with a view to contributing to the meetings of the eurozone Heads of State or Government; believes in the importance of joint meetings between the EPSCO and ECOFIN Councils with the aim of achieving a coherent position whenever necessary;

68.  Welcomes the Commission’s recognition that the impact of fiscal consolidation measures, – taken to ensure not only the sustainability of some Member States’ economies, but the sustainability of the EU economy as a whole – on the EU employment and social situation has been severe and far-reaching; calls for increased efforts to fulfil the employment and social obligations set out in the Treaties and in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; calls on the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights to assess thoroughly the impact of these measures on fundamental rights and to issue recommendations in the event of breaches of the Charter;

69.  Welcomes the intention of the Italian Presidency, as indicated in the conclusions of the extraordinary meeting of the European Council of 30 August 2014, to hold a conference at the level of Heads of State or Government on employment, especially youth employment;

70.  Welcomes the abovementioned reduction in unemployment rates in some Member States; recalls, however, that the Europe 2020 strategy accurately states that the figure to watch is the employment rate, and considers it regrettable that the current employment rate indicators do not accurately reflect the reality of all labour markets in the EU;

71.  Notes that the Commission draws attention to the need for structural reforms aimed at improving framework conditions for growth and jobs, particularly at times of high unemployment, and that many opportunities can be opened up at both national and European level by completing the single market;

72.  Calls on the new Commission to make the employment recovery an absolute priority by drawing up an ambitious and holistic strategy for growth and quality job creation, which should involve all the new Commissioners; takes the view that, to this end, the Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner should develop a plan which involves all policy areas and includes concrete measures to boost quality employment;

73.  Considers that the EU cannot recover its competitiveness by means of cost-cutting alone, but that this needs to be accompanied by increased investment in research and development, education and skills, and by greater resource-efficiency; requests that labour markets become more adaptive and dynamic so as to be able to adjust to disruptions in the economic situation without causing collective redundancies and excessive wage adjustment; recalls that the purchasing power of many EU workers has been sharply eroded, household incomes have fallen and internal demand has been depressed; believes that in order to restore the necessary competitiveness of our economy, the EU must also contemplate strategies focusing on other production costs, price developments and profit margins, and on cross-sectoral policies aimed at boosting innovation, productivity and excellence;

74.  Is concerned about the ever-rising inequalities in wealth and income weakening purchasing power, internal demand and investment in the real economy; calls on the Member States to include measures aimed at reducing these inequalities into their NRPs with a view to boosting growth, employment and social cohesion;

75.  Stresses the need to shift the tax burden away from labour towards other forms of sustainable tax in order to promote growth and job creation;

76.  Welcomes the Commission’s CSRs in the field of environmental taxation and calls on the Member States to implement the recommendations while ensuring that this benefits lower incomes in particular; highlights the positive budgetary, employment, social and environmental impact of shifting taxation from labour to environmental taxation and of phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies;

77.  Is concerned that in some cases financial fragmentation in the eurozone is jeopardising the growth and sustainability of SMEs; calls for the restoration of the economy’s lending capacity, which allows SMEs to invest and create jobs, and for the easing of SMEs’ access to entrepreneurship and to programmes such as COSME and Horizon 2020;

78.  Calls on the Member States to eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens and bureaucracy for the self-employed, micro-enterprises and SMEs and to facilitate business start-up conditions;

79.  Calls on the Commission, as a matter of urgency, to give tangible form – on the basis of Article 9 TFEU – to the promised EUR 300 billion investment plan, and calls for an assessment as to whether this figure is sufficient to restore the EU’s full potential for growth, competitiveness and quality job creation;

80.  Welcomes the Commission’s call, in its umbrella communication on the CSRs in the EU as a whole, to invest more in R&D, innovation, education, skills and active labour market policies, together with energy, transport and the digital economy;

81.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen EU industry through the application of a more flexible competition policy in favour of competitiveness and employment, together with an ecological and digital transition plan; reiterates its call on the Commission to draw up, after consulting the social partners, a proposal for a legal act on the provision of information to, and consultation of, workers and the anticipation and management of restructuring in order to ensure economic and socially responsible adaptation to change by EU industry in such a way as to maintain workers’ rights without placing an excessive regulatory burden on companies, especially SMEs;

82.  Is concerned that, in many Member States and sectors, job losses are coupled with a decline in job quality, an increase in employment hurdles and a deterioration in labour standards; stresses that the Commission and the Member States need to make dedicated efforts to improve job quality in order to match skills with labour market needs; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make dedicated efforts to address the additional problems caused by involuntary part-time and involuntary temporary employment, precarious contracts (such as zero-hour contracts), bogus self-employment and undeclared work; welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s initiative regarding a European platform on undeclared work; reiterates its call on the Member States to ensure that people on precarious, temporary or part-time contracts or who are self-employed enjoy a core set of rights and adequate social protection;

83.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that its policy guidance promotes labour market reforms aimed at, inter alia, reducing segmentation, promoting transition between jobs, advancing the inclusion of vulnerable groups in the labour market, reducing in-work poverty, promoting gender equality, strengthening the rights of workers on atypical contracts and providing greater social protection for self-employed workers;

84.  Observes that, in its 2013 annual report on the EU employment and social situation, the Commission highlighted the importance of social protection expenditure as a safeguard against social risks; recalls the importance of automatic stabilisers in dealing with asymmetrical shocks, avoiding excessive depletion of national welfare states and thus strengthening the sustainability of EMU as a whole; calls on the Commission to include in its CSRs the importance of preserving strong automatic stabilisers in the Member States in view of their outstanding role in maintaining social cohesion as well as stimulating internal demand and economic growth; reiterates its call on the Commission to produce a Green Paper on automatic stabilisers in the eurozone;

85.  Notes the intention of the Italian Presidency of the European Council, as delineated in its programme, to open the debate on automatic stabilisers at the EU level, with a special focus on the possible establishment of an unemployment benefit scheme in the eurozone;

86.  Stresses the importance of active and inclusive labour market policies as a strategic tool for promoting employment in the current context; is deeply concerned that several Member States, despite rising unemployment rates, have reduced budget allocations to finance active and inclusive labour market policies; calls on the Member States to increase the coverage and effectiveness of active labour market policies, in close cooperation with the social partners;

87.  Welcomes the adoption of Decision No 573/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on enhanced cooperation between Public Employment Services (PES); notes the January 2014 proposal for a EURES (European Job Mobility Portal) regulation; calls for Parliament and the Council to deliberate on the reform as a matter of urgency so that EURES can become an effective instrument for boosting intra‑EU labour mobility, in line with the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1296/2013 and with a view to promoting diversity; recalls that mobility must remain voluntary and must not limit efforts to create quality jobs and training places on the spot; stresses that reliable professional information on working and living conditions in other Member States is a prerequisite for a well-functioning European Economic Area;

88.  Highlights the rising number of workers, particularly young people, departing their countries of origin for other Member States in search of employment opportunities; urges the Commission, together with the Member States, to promote intra EU-labour mobility in order to ensure freedom of movement, while upholding the principle of equal treatment and safeguarding wages and social standards; calls on each Member State to establish social and labour conditions that are in line with the Europe 2020 strategy;

89.  Is concerned that the supply of science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills (STEM) will not match the increasing demand from businesses in the coming years, thereby reducing the capacity of the EU labour force to adapt and progress; calls on the Member States to invest in the modernisation of education and training systems, including lifelong learning, and in particular in dual learning schemes, and to facilitate the transition from school to work;

90.  Believes there is a need to improve leadership, management and entrepreneurial skills among young people in order to enable new businesses and start-ups to take advantage of new markets and realise their growth potential, so that young people become employers rather than solely employees;

91.  Notes that bank lending is still the most common source of finance in the EU; believes, however, that there are real benefits in new forms of financing through innovative schemes and non-bank routes, such as crowdfunding, SME angels, peer-to-peer lending, micro-lending, easily accessible microcredit agencies and other tools, which can provide vital investment for start-ups and SMEs to grow and create jobs;

92.  Welcomes the reduction in youth unemployment rates, but points out that they are still alarming: 22 % in the EU-28 and 23,1 % in the eurozone; highlights the worrying differences between Member States (7,8 % in Germany and Greece (56,3 % in April 2014)); stresses that job insecurity and underemployment have also risen, bearing in mind that even when young people do find a job, some of them – 43 % on average, compared with 13 % of adult workers – find themselves working under precarious conditions or on involuntary part-time contracts; also expresses concern at the increasing level of homeless unemployed young people in many Member States;

93.  Welcomes the fact that the Youth Guarantees are mentioned in the majority of the CSRs; calls on the Commission to monitor closely the challenges identified in the 2014 CSRs regarding the quality of offers, the lack of active outreach to NEETs, the administrative capacity of public employment services and the lack of effective engagement with all relevant partners, while at the same time identifying best practices that could serve as a benchmark for improving programmes; calls for greater transparency in monitoring implementation, a more ambitious approach to dealing with those Member States showing no progress, and better use of frontloading; stresses, in this connection, that the Youth Employment Initiative should be regarded as an incentive for all Member States to use the European Social Fund to finance broader youth-related projects, especially those dealing with poverty and social inclusion;

94.  Calls on the Commission to propose a European framework introducing minimum standards for the implementation of the Youth Guarantees – including the quality of apprenticeships and jobs, decent wages for young people and access to employment services and rights – and covering young people aged between 25 and 30; calls on the Member States to use the available budget efficiently and to implement the Youth Guarantees without delay; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make the Youth Guarantees a priority, given that budget allocations are frontloaded in the first two years; calls for the available budget to be increased during the promised mid-term review of the multiannual financial framework, bearing in mind that the International Labour Organisation has estimated that the sum of EUR 21 billion is necessary to resolve the problem of youth unemployment in the eurozone; regards this increase as a necessary investment, given that the enormous annual economic loss resulting from inaction against youth unemployment amounts to EUR 153 billion, corresponding to 1,2 % of EU GDP (Eurofound, 2012)(17);

95.  Stresses the importance of emphasising practical skills and the dual system of vocational training, which makes young people more employable;

96.  Calls on the Member States to improve cooperation between business and the education sector at all levels;

97.  Notes the March 2014 Council recommendation on a quality framework for traineeships with a view to preventing discrimination and exploitation of young workers; calls on the Commission and the Member States, as part of the European Semester, to incorporate these recommendations into the NRPs and the CSRs;

98.  Observes with concern that female unemployment rates are higher than the total rates (11,7 % in the EU-18 and 10,4 % in the EU-28, compared with 11,5 % and 10,2 % respectively); calls, therefore, for specific quality-job creation plans with targeted measures for women; calls for gender mainstreaming in recommendations, and points out that increasing gender equality and women’s labour market participation must not be threatened by other recommendations; calls for the establishment of specific recommendations with a view to reducing the gender pay and pension gap, which is not only a drag on the economy and on competitiveness but also a sign of social injustice;

99.  Welcomes the recommendations addressing the low participation of women in the labour market; calls on the Commission to include a broader gender equality perspective – beyond employment rates – in the next AGS; calls on the Commission and the Member States to address labour market segregation and the unequal distribution of care responsibilities; calls for affordable, quality public services in the field of childcare and care for dependants which enable carers, especially women, to return to employment, and which facilitate the reconciling of work and private life;

100.  Calls on the Member States to pay particular attention to high unemployment rates among disadvantaged groups, giving priority to access to, and integration into, the labour market and to the mainstreaming of access and integration policies, as employment is the key to successful integration;

101.  Is deeply concerned that long-term unemployed people and senior workers are experiencing higher unemployment rates and additional difficulties in re-entering the labour market; calls on the Member States to make full use of the European Social Fund to help these workers successfully re-enter the labour market;

102.  Observes with concern that in many cases employees aged 40+ no longer receive appropriate training and further education on the job; calls, therefore, on employers, the social partners and national governments to implement true lifelong learning (LLL) concepts and measurements on the labour market with a view to achieving marked improvements in the qualification of older workers as soon as possible;

103.  Welcomes those CSRs aimed at increasing the adequacy and coverage of minimum income schemes, safety nets and social protection, and the number of CSRs relating to labour market inclusion policies; takes the view, however, that the uneven and fragile growth expected by the Commission in 2014 and 2015 will not by itself be able to tackle the impact that the crisis and its consequences have had on the fight against poverty and social exclusion and on the achievement of the Europe 2020 goals; urges the Member States to follow up the recommendations closely, to deliver on them and to propose specific, targeted measures within their NRPs with a view to tackling poverty, especially homelessness and child poverty;

104.  Calls on the Commission to link the European Semester more closely to the Europe 2020 social objectives; takes the view that NRPs should report on progress on national poverty targets, demonstrating the contribution made to the commonly agreed Europe 2020 poverty headline target; calls on the Commission to issue CSRs on fighting poverty to all Member States in the future; calls on the Member States to have in place specific social inclusion and anti-discrimination measures with a view to reducing poverty, targeting those groups at greatest risk of social exclusion; calls on the Member States to implement a comprehensive active inclusion strategy by providing a minimum income and a social security system, in accordance with their own national practices, including provisions set out in collective agreements or national legislation;

105.  Calls on the Member States, in the light of the Council recommendation of 9 and 10 December 2013 on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States, to implement long-term, targeted and integrated measures aimed at reducing the social and economic marginalisation of Roma communities, in particular through the adoption of labour market integration measures, including strengthened links between social assistance and activation, increased school attendance by Roma children and the reduction of early school-leaving;

106.  Calls on the Commission to tackle immediately the alarming increase in child poverty throughout the EU through the introduction of a child guarantee against poverty; believes that such a guarantee is of the utmost importance in order to protect children affected by the consequences of the current economic and social crisis;

107.  Regrets the fact that the Commission recommendations on pensions were made without taking into account Parliament’s position on the relevant Green and White Papers; stresses that pension reforms require national political and social cohesion and should be negotiated with the social partners in order to be successful, and that the necessary comprehensive reforms of the Member States’ pension systems should be designed, conceived and adopted with a view to ensuring their sustainability, while at the same time not jeopardising adequate pension levels and being fully in line with the economic and social priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy;

108.  Considers it regrettable that very few CSRs tackle the issue of in-work poverty or homelessness; points out that new forms of poverty are emerging which affect the middle and working classes, with difficulties in paying mortgages resulting in an increase in the number of evictions and foreclosures; calls on the Commission, in the 2015 AGS, to explicitly address in‑work poverty and poverty among people with limited or no links to the labour market; recommends that the Commission and the Member States implement integrated policies favouring social and affordable housing, effective prevention policies aimed at reducing the number of evictions, and policies tackling energy poverty, which is also on the rise;

109.  Welcomes the fact that some CSRs are concerned with the fight against child poverty and with affordable childcare services, but calls for more policies targeting low-income families; calls for more recommendations on social inclusion strategies, including the fight against extreme forms of poverty, such as homelessness;

110.  Notes the Commission’s support for active inclusion strategies; believes, however, that such strategies must include measures to integrate people with disabilities and reduced work capacity into the labour market; encourages the Member States to consider the added value of incentivising employers to employ those furthest from the labour market by developing a well-balanced mix of responsibilities and support networks involving all relevant actors in the development of Member States’ labour market policies;

111.  Requests, in view of the high poverty rates, that an evaluation be carried out as to whether the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived is sufficiently well funded, and, if not, that consideration be given the possibility of increasing its funding during the mid-term review of the multiannual financial framework;

112.  Agrees with the Commission that the Member States must tackle homelessness through comprehensive strategies based on prevention, housing-led approaches, the reviewing of regulations and practices in relation to eviction, and an end to the criminalisation of homeless people; calls for improvements as regards the transnational exchange of best practices and mutual learning, and acknowledges the role of the Progress programme in this context;

113.  Welcomes the recommendation to invest in education, but is concerned that more than 20 Member States have reduced education expenditure in relative terms (as a percentage of GDP), thereby jeopardising their growth and job creation potential and their competitiveness; points out that reducing such investment will increase the EU’s structural weakness, given the mismatch between the growing need for high-skilled workers and the fact that in many Member States a high proportion of the workforce is currently low-skilled;

114.  Notes the Commission recommendation to reform healthcare systems so that they deliver on their objectives of providing universal public access to high-quality care in a cost‑effective manner, and to secure their financial sustainability;

115.  Reiterates its call for increased and structured involvement of civil society stakeholders at national and EU level, so as to safeguard the legitimacy and improve the effectiveness of the European Semester process; looks forward, in this connection, to the Commission’s planned involvement of the social partners in the context of the Social Dialogue Committee prior to the adoption of the 2015 AGS;

116.  Criticises the fact that not all the Member States have involved both their national parliament and their national social partners and civil society in the drafting of their NRPs; calls on the Member States to include a detailed overview in their NRPs explaining who was involved and in what manner; calls on the Commission to take stock of the different national practices as regards parliamentary procedures and stakeholder involvement in the European Semester;

Budgetary policies

117.  Underlines, once again, the important role of the EU budget in stimulating sustainable growth, boosting job creation and reducing macroeconomic imbalances in the EU, thereby contributing to the reduction of social inequalities; recalls, in particular, that without even considering its role as a catalyst for investment, some 60 % of the EU budget is directly devoted to the achievement of the Europe 2020 objectives; underlines, moreover, that many 2014-2020 programmes contain innovative financial instruments which have the potential to play a key role in supporting both public and private investments in the Member States, particularly in respect of long-term investments which are widely recognised as a major political priority;

118.  Recalls the need, at the start of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), for swift and effective implementation of the new programmes at both EU and Member State level, in order to allow these programmes to contribute to the economic recovery process; calls for a particularly speedy implementation of the programmes frontloaded to the first years of the MFF, such as Horizon 2020, COSME, Erasmus+ and the Youth Employment Initiative; stresses the fact that these programmes have a leverage effect and a synergetic and catalytic role in relation to national investment policies and growth and job creation; underlines the need for a swift launch of the 2014-2020 cohesion policy (in terms of partnership agreements already signed, operational programmes agreed and prefinancing disbursed); highlights, once again, the role that cohesion policy can play in supporting growth and job creation across the whole EU territory; calls, in this context, on the Member States to ensure that EU funding is directed, wherever possible, at projects which promote the creation of jobs, in particular for young people, as well as sustainable growth and competitiveness; expresses its deep concern regarding the unprecedented level of outstanding commitments (RALs), the majority of which lie in cohesion policy, and the high risk of decommitments that certain Member States are facing as regards funding from the previous programming period;

119.  Supports both the EU Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative as crucial means to fighting the dramatically high level of youth unemployment; welcomes the recent steps taken by the Commission to assist Member States in the prompt programming of measures financed under the Youth Employment Initiative; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the proper, effective, rapid and timely implementation of these programmes;

120.  Underlines the fact that the promotion of EU jobs, growth and competitiveness requires that the formation of value chains in the EU be boosted and that EU companies, including SMEs, be more firmly integrated at all value-chain levels; recalls the fact that such policies should cover undertakings of all sizes, be conducive to maintaining the production chain in Europe, support sectors with high growth potential, with a specific focus on innovation, skills, sustainability, entrepreneurship and creativity, and enable sufficient growth and wealth to allow for an increase in job creation;

121.  Stresses the fact that, at a time when many Member States are heavily reliant on a single energy supplier, including six that are entirely dependent on Russia for their natural gas, the promotion and safeguarding of jobs also requires a reduction in the EU’s vulnerability to external energy shocks, as evidenced by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine; welcomes, in this regard, the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 26‑27 June 2014 and expects these conclusions to be complemented no later than October 2014 by ambitious medium- to long-term measures to enhance the EU’s energy security;

122.  Underlines the fact that the tight 2014-2020 ceilings in payments remain a crucial problem for the EU budget, having negative effects on economic recovery given that late payments are harmful primarily to direct beneficiaries; recalls the need to ensure, in the light of implementation, the timely, and orderly progression of payments so as to concomitantly deliver on both the payments stemming from past commitments and those resulting from prefinancing to promptly launch the new programmes, and to avoid any abnormal shift of outstanding commitments (RALs) onto the 2015 budget; urges, in this connection, the Council to adopt in full draft amending budget Nos 3/2014, as submitted by the Commission, in order for the EU budget to have maximum impact in terms of investment on the ground; points out that if draft amending budgets Nos 2, 3 and 4 are adopted unamended, this would result in an overall budgetary impact of just EUR 106 million in additional gross national income (GNI) contributions, which have to be made available by the Member States in order to ensure a sufficient level of payment appropriations in 2014 to cover the Union’s existing legal obligations; highlights its determination to continue monitoring the overall situation as regards payments and RALs and to make full use of all means of flexibility enshrined in the MFF regulation and the related interinstitutional agreement; underlines the fact that the question of the recurrent EU budget payment crisis will have to be addressed in a sustainable manner at the occasion of the post-electoral revision of the MFF 2014-2020, due to be launched as soon as possible by the next Commission, which is to assume office on 1 November 2014;

123.  Recalls its view that the fiscal situation of Member States can be eased through a new system of own resources to finance the Union budget that will reduce GNI contributions, thus enabling Member States to meet their consolidation efforts without jeopardising EU funding to support investment in economic recovery and reform measures; recalls the fact that the Commission has tabled several legislative proposals in order to reform the own-resources system but that so far, unfortunately, none of them have been discussed seriously by the Council; underlines, therefore, the importance it attaches to the new high-level group on own resources, which should lead to a true reform of EU financing;

124.  Urges the Commission, in the framework of its 2015 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) to be published in November 2014, to fully address and underline the role of the EU budget in the European Semester process by providing factual and concrete data on its triggering, catalytic, synergetic and complementary effects on overall public expenditure at local, regional and national level;

125.  Calls, furthermore, on the Commission, in its next AGS, to provide a full and complete picture of what has been achieved as a result of the implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs, adopted at the European Council meeting of June 2012 in order to move beyond the economic and fiscal crises, and to present new proposals on the role which the EU budget could play in further creating smart, sustainable, inclusive, resource-efficient and job-creating growth;

126.  Welcomes the commitment by the President-elect of the Commission to deliver on the Commission’s roadmap entitled ‘Towards a genuine economic and monetary union’ of 5 December 2012; believes that any additional funding or instruments, such as a solidarity mechanism, must be an integral part of the EU budget, but over and above the agreed MFF ceilings.

Internal Market

127.  Urges the establishment of a genuine internal market for energy that ensures fair market access, a high level of consumer protection and an accessible market, especially for SMEs;

128.  Believes that Member States have to step up their efforts to modernise their public administrations, by completing reforms of their respective public administration laws, providing more and better accessible digital services for citizens and businesses, reducing costs and enhancing efficiency, facilitating cross-border cooperation and implementing interoperability frameworks for public administrations; highlights the fact that the full and quick implementation of EU public procurement and concessions legislation would provide a great opportunity to enhance innovation and access for SMEs and to modernise public administration, at both government and local level, by improving the quality, effectiveness and transparency of public spending and investment;

Environmental policies

129.  Underlines the fact that the greening of EU economies contributes to long-term and crisis-resilient growth, increases competitiveness and creates jobs, while improving the Union’s energy security and energy independence, and that the green economy should be seen as a major driver for the development of the economy;

o   o

130.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the governments of the Member States, the Commission, the national parliaments and the European Central Bank.

(1) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 12.
(2) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 41.
(3) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 8.
(4) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 33.
(5) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 25.
(6) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 1.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0240.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0036.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0130.
(10) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 11.
(11) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 1.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0129.
(13) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(14) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 101.
(15) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0043.
(16) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0205.
(17) Eurofound (2012), ‘NEETs: young people not in employment, education or training: characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe’, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

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