Parliament gave a lukewarm response to the Commission's next steps for economic and monetary union. Its resolution says full implementation of the governance rules already set up must take precedence over new proposals. It also says the Commission has not embedded enough democratic control into the new ideas and that tools are needed to help reforms and address social concerns.
The resolution on the next steps for economic and monetary union (EMU) was passed on Thursday with a large majority, by 484 votes to 107, with 13 abstentions. It comes a month after the Commission presented two papers unveiling new measures to better coordinate national economic reform programmes and enhance convergence and competitiveness among the EU economies.
Coherence and no half-baked measures
MEPs stress in the resolution that the Commission should first ensure that the economic governance 'six-pack' and 'two-pack' are off to a good start. Only then should it concentrate on further initiatives.
They also raise concerns regarding some of the new mechanisms proposed, such as the 'contractual arrangement' between the Commission and a member state, arguing that they need to be better anchored into EU law for more coherence. Pursuing the same line of thought, the resolution says that the new coordination being planned should be carried out through the European Semester.
More democratic accountability
The resolution recalls that it is important to ensure that parliaments must remain in charge when there are transfers of sovereignty. It criticises the Commission's plans for foreseeing only very limited parliamentary scrutiny, warning that legitimacy will only be possible if decisions are taken democratically.
Parliament also calls for stronger involvement of national parliaments, especially when their governments are designing their respective economic reform plans.
Economic reforms but also solidarity
The resolution demands that deeper coordination and stronger Commission control over reforms should be coupled with the setting up of incentives, including financial ones, to increase solidarity, cohesion and competitiveness. These tools should help mitigate short-term negative effects of reform programmes.. The resolution reminds the Commission that it had committed to such solidarity enhancing tools when the 'two-pack' was given the green light.
Measures should also be taken to avoid negative effects from reforms on social inclusion, worker's rights, health care and other social issues, even in the short-term.
The resolution criticises the Commission's overly simplistic notion that competitiveness is based on lower wages, with no concern for tax avoidance or the social and employment dimensions, for example.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution