Motion for a resolution - B6-0073/2008Motion for a resolution
B6-0073/2008

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION

    13.2.2008

    to wind up the debate on statements by the Council and Commission
    pursuant to Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure
    by Francis Wurtz, Ilda Figueiredo, Helmuth Markov, Gabriele Zimmer, Eva-Britt Svensson, Esko Seppänen and Roberto Musacchio
    on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group
    on the input to the Spring 2008 European Council in relation to the Lisbon Strategy

    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B6-0073/2008

    B6‑0073/2008

    European Parliament resolution on the input to the Spring 2008 European Council in relation to the Lisbon Strategy

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 July 2005 entitled 'Common actions for growth and employment: the Community Lisbon Programme' (COM(2005)0330),

    –  having regard to the 27 national Lisbon Reform Programmes as presented by the Member States,

    –  having regard to the 2007 implementation of the Commission's Community Lisbon Programme,

    –  having regard to the Commission's autumn 2007 economic forecasts of November 2007,

    –  having regard to the Commission communication package of 11 December 2007: 'Strategic report on the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs: launching the new cycle (2008-2010)' (COM(2007)0803), and 'Proposal for a Community Lisbon Programme 2008 - 2010' (COM(2007)0804),

    –  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000, the Stockholm European Council of 23 and 24 March 2001, the Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March 2002, and the Brussels European Councils of 22 and 23 March 2005, 15 and 16 December 2005, 23 and 24 March 2006 and 8 and 9 March 2007,

    –  having regard to its resolutions of 9 March 2005, 15 March 2006 and 14 February 2007 on the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy,

    –  having regard to the motion for a resolution tabled by the GUE/NGL Group on February 2007 on the input to the Spring 2007 European Council in relation to the Lisbon Strategy,

    –  having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A.  whereas the European Council in March 2000 and than in 2005 set the targets of an average economic growth rate of 3%, full employment, reduction of poverty and inequalities, and an overall R&D expenditure of 3% of Community GDP, to be achieved by 2010,

    B.   whereas after eight years of the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy it is time for a serious and complete analysis of its impact on the economic and social lives of the citizens,

    The Lisbon Strategy - the true results

    1.  Stresses that as we enter this last cycle 2008-2010 the Lisbon Strategy has failed to meet its declared objectives of average economic growth of 3%, full employment, an overall R&D expenditure of 3% of Community GDP and reducing poverty aiming at its eradication;

    2.  Notes that average economic growth in the EU-15 has decelerated decade after decade; notes that the Commission has recently reviewed its forecasts pointing to a new deceleration of economic growth; recalls the decreasing average annual growth rate of 1.6 % in the EU-27 (1.3 % in the EU-15) between 2000 and 2006, compared to, respectively, 2.9 and 2.8 % on average between 1996 and 2000;

    3.  Notes the persistence, and in some cases the increase, of regional disparities and economic and social inequalities between and within Member States; points out that currently there are countries and regions diverging from instead of converging with the EU average;

    4.  Notes that from 2000 to 2005 the EU's number of unemployed increased by one million, and that in 2006 there were more than 18 million persons unemployed in the EU; notes the slow average employment growth, not sufficient to reach the objective of 70% by 2010; draws particular attention to the fact that the employment growth in the last decade is mostly due to the increase in insecure work, with part-time work accounting for over half the overall increase;

    5.  Notes with concern that the differences between men and women in the labour market remain significant, since the female unemployment rate remains unacceptably higher compared to the total and to the male unemployment rate; finds it unacceptable that since 2003 there has been no decrease in the gender pay gap, as women continue to earn on average 15% less than men (25% less in the private sector, and 30% in industry) and that gender equality in careers is still not a reality;

    6.  Stresses that youth unemployment remains a key problem which today stands at around 18% and that over the last 25 years no real breakthrough has been achieved in reducing it; takes note of the Commission's evaluation of ten years of the European Employment Strategy where it states that 'young people are more than two times as likely to be unemployed than prime-age adults';

    7.  Points out that income inequalities have risen since 2000, with the ratio between the 20% richest and the 20% poorest having increased from 4.5:1 to 4.8:1 in 2006, reflecting a substantial increase in the concentration of wealth in the EU;

    8.  Finds it unacceptable that social inequalities and poverty are increasing in the EU, with 78 million people living in or at risk of poverty, especially women and children; stresses that in-work poverty accounts for more than a third of the overall poverty risk in the EU;

    9.  Points out that investment in research and development in terms of percentage of GDP stagnated between 2000 and 2005, standing at 1.9 % in 2005 in the EU-15 and 1.4 % in the EU-25, a long way from the EU target of 3% of GDP by 2010;

    The Lisbon Strategy - the contradiction between proclaimed objectives and neo-liberal policies

    10.  Draws attention to the contradiction between the so-called 'Lisbon Objectives' - to make Europe 'the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion'- and the neo-liberal policies applied;

    11.  Regrets that the Commission, in its Communication to the 2008 Spring Council, has failed to address the deep social and economic consequences of eight years of the Lisbon Strategy;

    12.  Deplores the fact that the Commission, on the contrary, is pushing for a deepening of its neo-liberal programme. with further liberalisations and increased insecurity, and is promoting the 'externalization' of the Lisbon Agenda;

    13.  Notes that since 2000 the EU has been plagued by sluggish economic and employment growth, a transfer of productivity gains from workers to shareholders, and the persistence of high levels of unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, insecure work and income inequality;

    14.  Reaffirms that the Lisbon Strategy, as defined by the European Councils of March 2000 and 2005 (with the clear support of the major European employers' organisations), has been the main tool within the EU to promote the liberalisation and privatisation of public utilities and services, flexibility and adaptability of labour markets, wage restraint, and the opening-up to private interests of the bulk of social security provisions, including pensions and health;

    15.  Regrets the fact that the so-called revival of the Lisbon Strategy in 2005 has accentuated even more the neo-liberal content, and recalls that this content has been translated into concrete national reform programmes by all Member States, putting at risk the social dimension and disregarding the economic, social and environmental problems faced by the different EU Member States;

    16.  Stresses that the Community's Lisbon Programme and the national reform programmes in the framework of the revised Lisbon Strategy are a tool to provide national justification for and push forward the same structural reforms in all the Member States, in particular as regards the labour market and social security, and that this will have serious economic and social consequences, intensified by the integrated guidelines and the Stability and Growth Pact; considers that these reforms will jeopardise the rights of workers, pensioners, public service users and consumers;

    17.  Stresses that the ongoing process of liberalising markets and privatising public utilities has not brought any visible gains in terms of prices, service quality or a reduction in public expenditure; notes, on the contrary, that consumers' and public service users' associations have reported price increases, a drop in the level of service quality and increases in the costs of provision; notes, furthermore, that liberalisation has contributed to the destruction of jobs in the sectors affected and the creation of private monopolies that put the rights of workers, public service users and consumers at risk;

    18.  Rejects, therefore, the liberalisation of public transport, energy and communications systems and, in particular, the recent agreements on liberalisation of international passenger rail particular traffic and postal services;

    19.  Highlights the importance of public services for the promotion of social, economic and territorial cohesion in the EU; stresses that public structural sectors should not be open to competition but, rather, should be owned and managed by public authorities, as the only way to ensure the quality, availability and affordability of the service provided and so guarantee the users' rights;

    20.  Stresses that the European Employment Strategy has provided the tools for the deregulation of labour markets, the transition from stable to insecure jobs and the weakening of workers' rights and collective bargaining as it promotes the employability and adaptability of workers;

    21.  Considers that the recent rulings of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the Vaxholm-Laval and Viking Line cases show where the orientation of the current Treaties, which remains in the Treaty of Lisbon, leads to; deeply regrets the way the ECJ has prioritised competition rules in the EU above all else, legitimating social dumping and undermining workers' rights;

    22.  Strongly rejects the new concept of 'flexicurity' and the attempt to make it the overarching approach for the next three-year cycle of the European Employment Strategy and the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs;

    23.  Considers that this concept promotes the liberalisation of firing, the adjustment of labour (and wages) to the business cycle with the public employment services of the Member States assuming the costs of labour recycling and rotation, and the deregulation of work contracts, jeopardising social cohesion and the quality of work; warns that behind this strategy there also lies the purpose of reviewing unemployment benefit schemes with the aim of reducing benefits and their duration;

    24.  Draws attention to the still high rate of early school leavers, particularly in some Member States;

    25.  Considers that in order to make the EU 'the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world' a break is needed with the current education and training policies tying investment in research and development and education to the whims of the free market and thus justifying the commodification of knowledge, education and research (the Bologna process);

    26.  Considers that monetary and fiscal policy in the EU has been restrictive, with its overarching objectives of price stability and budget consolidation in line with the Stability and Growth Pact; stresses that the process of nominal convergence towards the euro and what followed has had a negative impact on economic and employment growth, on social and economic cohesion, on real convergence between the Member States, and on public investment, putting at risk the current meagre economic recovery and the fight against unemployment;

    27.  Draws attention to the recent rupture of financial markets, affecting deeply and more and more not only the US but the EU and other economies; stresses the increased risks of financial crisis due to the deregulation of capital markets and their increased volatility worldwide, with an increase in 'casino' economies that pose a permanent danger to the real economy; rejects the deregulation envisioned in the action plan for financial services included in the Lisbon Strategy;

    28.  Draws attention to the consequences of the monetary orientations of the European Central Bank and its insistence on giving priority to price stability, at a time when the Federal Reserve System is lowering the interest rates and even the International Monetary Fund is issuing warnings on the situation;

    29.  Draws attention to the EU's external agenda, which is characterised by an increasingly aggressive external trade and investment policy and by a neo-liberal reshaping of relations with less developed countries;

    30.  Strongly opposes the EU's promotion of the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements with third countries, imposing the liberalisation of their public services and utilities and guaranteeing the opening of markets to European business, in order to overcome the stalling of the Doha talks;

    31.  Regrets that the EU adopted a budget for 2008 based on the priorities stated in the non-ratified 'European Constitution' and now present in the 'Treaty of Lisbon' project, i.e. on competition/competitiveness, security and militarisation, instead of addressing the social, economic and environmental challenges facing the enlarged EU and its cohesion needs;

    Time for change - a new 'Strategy for Solidarity and Sustainable Development'

    32.  Calls on the Council to commit itself to real change and to focus on securing the welfare and living standards of citizens, fighting poverty, and developing social and economic cohesion and the sustainable use of resources,

    33.  Stresses that a new strategy is needed to set a new path for Europe: a path of full employment, decent jobs with rights, better wages, social and economic cohesion and social protection for all, guaranteeing the highest living standards; a path that pays heed to the development needs of each Member State, in particular the less developed, that promotes real convergence, and that helps reduce the development gap between Member States and the existing economic, social and regional disparities;

    34.  Calls, therefore, for the Lisbon Strategy to be replaced by a 'European Strategy for Solidarity and Sustainable Development' based on the abovementioned principles, with a new set of economic, social and environmental policies to encourage investment:

    • (i)in the quality of work in all its aspects (wages, stability, working conditions and training) and improving qualifications, in order to achieve a highly trained and skilled workforce,
    • (ii)in basic and industry-supportive infrastructure,

       (iii)   in public services, in order to improve their quality,

    • (iv)in a strong cohesion policy, in order to promote social and economic cohesion,
    • (v)in the protection of the environment and in eco-technologies,
    • (vi)in improving labour, social, environmental and safety standards, in order to achieve harmonisation to meet the highest standards,

       (vii)   in the social economy,

       (viii)   in social protection, in order to eradicate poverty and fight against social exclusion,

    • (ix)in (public) research and innovation, in order to guarantee its benefits to all,
    • (x)in the promotion of culture, sports and civil participation,
    • (xi)in the progressive 'dematerialisation' of the economy;

    35.  Insists on the revocation of the Stability and Growth Pact, in parallel with the establishment of an Employment and Growth Pact which will foster public investment, improve efficiency, and set specific economic, social and environment criteria tailor-made to the particular needs of each Member State, in particular targeting unemployment reduction;

    36.  Stresses the need to support the development of the less-favoured regions, areas with permanent structural disadvantages, the outermost regions, and areas affected by recent deindustrialisation or industrial restructuring, in order to strengthen economic and social cohesion and women's social inclusion in those areas and regions;

    37.  Stresses the importance of the state's role in the promotion of economic development, support for productive investment, creation of jobs with rights, stimulation of exports, and support to micro-businesses and SMEs, the cooperative sector and families;

    38.  Insists on the strengthening of the state's role in regulation, participation and intervention as regards the market and on a better regulatory framework, in particular for financial markets;

    39.  Calls for the implementation within the EU of a tax on capital movements, in view of the increasing volatility and instability of the financial markets, the danger posed to the real economy by speculation, and the need to obtain new sources of tax revenue with a view to redressing the tax balance as between labour and capital;

    40.  Notes the problem of tax evasion and erosion and its impact on revenue and budget losses at national level; calls for a firm commitment from the Member States to abolishing tax havens and offshore activities within the EU by 2010, and asks the Council, the Commission and the Member States to make a firm commitment to abolishing tax havens and offshore activities worldwide;

    41.  Draws attention to the increasing external dependency of the EU, which is a direct consequence of the continuous deindustrialisation and relocation policy of productive activities to third countries;

    42.  Calls for a new policy of industrial investment that takes advantage of the natural resources and productive capacity of each Member State;

    43.  Recalls its request for the creation of a regulatory framework at EU level to penalise relocations of firms inside and outside the EU; considers that public aid to enterprises at national and EU level should be linked to long-term commitments by them in terms of regional development and employment, and that no aid should be granted that could be used to promote relocations;

    44.  Notes the intention to revise the European Works Council Directive (94/45/EC); calls on the Commission and Council to take due account of Parliament's resolution of 17 January 2007 stating the need to protect workers' rights in restructuring processes affecting industrial undertakings, the need to guarantee full access to information and the possibility of decisive intervention throughout the process, including the right to vote, and the need to define the criteria for the compensation that would be owed to workers should the undertaking fail to comply with its contractual obligations;

    45.  Emphasises that the review of the European Employment Strategy (EES) and the Integrated Guidelines for the next cycle (2008–2010) must be based not on the Commission's flexicurity concept, but, instead, on the promotion of jobs with rights; calls on the Member States, the Commission and the Council to take effective measures with a view to complying with social standards and guaranteeing decent jobs, thereby ensuring decent incomes for workers, and in particular women, as well as the rights to safety and health at work, social protection and trade union freedom, and to promote the abolition of all forms of discrimination between men and women at work, while also pursuing the ambitious objective of reducing the number of working poor in Europe;

    46.  Stresses that policies are needed to achieve equality for women and men (e.g. equal pay, parental leave, access to employment with rights) and to create better conditions for reconciling employment and private life, guaranteeing the economic independence of women; notes the need for enhanced educational and social infrastructures for young and elderly people alike, including increased (and better) facilities for learning, (affordable) childcare, nursing care and care for the elderly; reminds the Member States of the commitment they entered into at the Barcelona Summit in 2002;

    47.  Calls on the EU to make a strong commitment to working-time reduction, without lowering wages, in order to create jobs and increase productivity; calls, therefore, on the Commission to withdraw its proposal for the revision of the Working Time Directive; calls on the Member States to coordinate efforts to gradually reduce working time by 2010, and stresses the short-term objective of a 35-hour week; considers that the reduction of working time without lowering wages should be seen as an aim in itself and a measure of societal wellbeing;

    48.  Stresses the importance of increasing the overall level of education and qualifications of the population; recalls that quality public education is fundamental to development, and considers that education and training systems must be reinforced at various stages in life, with further investment and access to higher education facilitated to all;

    49.  Invites the Member States to focus first and foremost on the school dropout problem at primary and secondary level; considers that the EU school dropout rate is unacceptably high; calls on the Spring European Council to improve its previous commitments to reduce this rate by half by 2010;

    50.  Stresses the importance of publicly-financed basic and applied research to promote innovation and foster R&D in order to achieve the overall policy of sustainable development and contribute to wealth and job creation; invites the Member States to redouble their efforts to achieve a policy of encouraging innovation and R&D in SMEs;

    51.  Stresses that ecological and social sustainability must be at the heart of the EU's and the Member States' public investment programmes; considers that more emphasis should be put on developing energy efficiency measures, the use of renewable energy sources and the promotion of co-generation technologies; calls for a Community programme to support measures to improve energy efficiency in the Member States and thus reduce energy consumption;

    52.  Regrets that the EU's response to climate change and energy shortages is largely limited to the issue of whether or not Member States have 'properly' opened up their energy markets;

    53.  Calls for an investment policy for efficient public transport networks, encouraging their use and aiming at greater energy saving and better environmental quality;

    54.  Underlines the urgent need for efficient transport measures in accordance with the principle of sustainability and the promotion of investment in more environmentally friendly modes of transport;

    55.  Insist that external relations should be based on the principal of 'non-interference', promoting further actions to support cooperation and development with all countries;

    56.  Emphasises that the EU should completely revise its aggressive neo-liberal global trade strategy and should instead shift towards a solidarity-based trade agenda that respects each country's specificities, complementary needs and productive sovereignty; underlines that the contradictory aims of the EU's foreign trade and development policies should be overcome by explicitly taking account of the ecological, social, and in particular gender impact of trade policies in developing countries to this end;

    57.  Considers that the current cost-effectiveness assessments or 'competitiveness' assessments as proposed under the 'better legislation' initiative are biased towards business interests and have as a main goal the withdrawal of any legislation that jeopardises competition or business profitability, and also promote deregulation; considers that impact assessments should not call in question the initial objectives of proposed or existing legislation, in particular in the field of labour protection and social, environmental and consumer rights;

    58.  Calls on the Commission to use the opportunity of the 2008/09 budget review foreseen in the Interinstitutional Agreement to substantially reinforce the amounts for cohesion policy in order to reduce regional disparities and promote economic and social cohesion and real convergence, reinforcing the redistributive character of the Community budget;

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    59.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.