With GDP 4% down and unemployment at over 23 million, the EU2020 strategy must provide an effective response to the economic and financial crisis, argue MEPs in a resolution adopted on Wednesday by 462 votes to 140, with 58 abstentions.
Parliament asks the Commission to propose new measures, and possibly sanctions, to deal with Member States that do not implement the EU2020 Strategy and incentives for those that do so. The resolution also says that "EU funding to achieve the various EU2020 objectives should be conditional on results and compatibility with the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy".
Stronger EU governance
Parliament welcomes Council decisions to set fewer targets but to make them clearer, more realistic and quantifiable. MEPs also stress Parliament's key role and prerogatives in implementing the strategy. The resolution suggests that the EU institutions draw up a binding agreement to prevent the Council acting unilaterally.
The Lisbon Strategy failed due to the absence of efficient incentives and binding instruments at EU level, note MEPs. For this reason they urge the European Council to abandon the "open coordination method" based on the "exchange of best practices" and to use the Lisbon Treaty to coordinate better the economic reforms and action plans of Member States.
Unemployment: a core issue
Unemployment is now the core issue in discussion of the crisis, MEPs say. To combat high and growing unemployment, the EU must implement its ambitious social agenda, which includes fighting poverty, discrimination and social exclusion, keeping people at school longer and promoting lifelong learning, they add.
Youth unemployment needs to be tackled by providing more training possibilities and internships and the Commission is urged to table a strategy to this end
Better co-ordinating economic policies
Parliament also says that the mutual coherence of EU economic strategies, such as the Sustainable Development Strategy and the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), needs to be improved. Budgetary consolidation and economic policies must be closely co-ordinated to generate growth and jobs and ensure the Euro's future stability, it adds. MEPs regret the absence of mechanisms to safeguard the Euro's stability and also stress the need for a strong EU supervisory structure for all financial institutions.
The Council and Commission should table proposals to complete the single market and the Commission should do more to promote small and medium-sized enterprises, since it is they who create most jobs, adds the resolution.
Finally Parliament says the EU's current budget is not geared to tackling 21st century challenges, and urges the Commission to retain the target of investing 3% of GDP in R&D.