Full text 
Procedure : 2013/2134(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0322/2013

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 23/10/2013 - 8
CRE 23/10/2013 - 8

Votes :

PV 23/10/2013 - 11.12
CRE 23/10/2013 - 11.12
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 23 October 2013 - Strasbourg
European Semester for economic policy coordination

European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2013 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2013 priorities (2013/2134(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2012 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2012 priorities(1),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 14-15 March 2013,

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

–  having regard to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG),

–  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(2),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2011/85/EU of 8 November 2011 on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States(3),

–  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(4),

–  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(5),

–  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(6),

–  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(7),

–  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(8),

–  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(9),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 28 November 2012 on the Annual Growth Survey 2013 (COM(2012)0750),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 February 2013 on the European Semester for Economic Policy Coordination: contribution to the Annual Growth Survey 2013(10),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 March 2013 entitled ‘The EU Justice Scoreboard – A tool to promote effective justice and growth’ (COM(2013)0160),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 29 May 2013 accompanying the draft 2013 country-specific recommendations and entitled ‘2013 European Semester: country-specific recommendations – Moving Europe beyond the crisis’ (COM(2013)0350),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation for a Council recommendation of 29 May 2013 on the implementation of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States whose currency is the euro (COM(2013)0379), as well as all the Commission proposals of 29 May 2013 for Council recommendations for individual Member States of the European Union,

–  having regard to the 2012 study entitled ‘Data for the evaluation of the European Semester process from a gender equality perspective’(11),

–  having regard to Rule 48 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 the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0322/2013),

A.  whereas the economic, social, financial and sovereign debt crises have not yet abated and whereas a more balanced, robust, stable and integrated Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is an objective still in the process of being realised;

B.  whereas the euro area sovereign debt crisis is having a significant impact on the euro money market and the Eurosystem’s extraordinary policy measures as well;

C.  whereas the Commission’s country-specific recommendations (CSRs) contain useful and detailed insights, but on the whole need to be more precisely defined and improved for some Member States, notably in terms of the balance of the policy prescriptions across policy areas; whereas there is also some margin for improvement as regards the methodology for assessing National Reform Programmes and following up country-specific recommendations;

D.  whereas SMEs remain the backbone of the euro area economy, representing about 98% of all euro area firms, employing around three quarters of employees in the euro area and generating around 60 % of value added;

E.  whereas it is important to safeguard the role of the social partners and respect different national practices and institutions as regards wage formation when implementing the European Semester;

F.  whereas urgent action is required in many areas, inter alia in restoring lending to the real economy and SMEs, which involves developing alternative resources of financing, in making the business environment more competitive, in fighting tax fraud, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning, in restoring the sustainability of public finances and in seeking effective European solutions to unemployment and thus establishing a fully integrated labour market and also significantly enhancing the social dimension of EMU;

G.  whereas the democratic legitimacy of economic governance in the European Semester requires real and dedicated respect for parliamentary prerogatives at European and national level and for those of the Commission as laid down in the Treaties and EU law against the trend of an increasingly de-parliamentarised and intergovernmental culture of economic-policy making at EU and euro-area level;

H.  whereas the involvement of the social partners and civil society organisations is essential to carrying out social assessments of the impact of the crisis on the ground, and thus taking adequate measures;

I.  whereas, given that the new provisions introduced by the so-called ‘2-pack’ have already entered into force, the CSRs have increased importance now that the national reform programmes and stability programmes have to be consistent with them;

J.  whereas, although in the case of Member States under a financial assistance programme recommendations have been strictly enforced, the level of compliance by the rest of the Member States with previous CSRs is low;

K.  whereas the 2-pack sets rules within the Community method in respect of Member States in the euro area experiencing, or threatened with, serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability;

L.  whereas the single market and the EU’s cohesion must be secured;

M.  whereas new technology affords both employers and employees new opportunities for organising work in such a way as to strike a better work-life balance and thus make the labour market more inclusive for women;

N.  whereas, on 17 September 2013, Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs held a meeting with national parliamentarians to discuss the implementation of the country-specific recommendations adopted by the Council with a view to take greater account of their effectiveness and of potential spill-over effects in the EU,

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s country-specific recommendations, adopted by the Council; points out that there is room for improvement; welcomes the fact that these recommendations are more detailed than their previous editions and give more insight into the Member States’ assiduity in carrying out the obligations they agreed to in the past; welcomes the Commission’s statement that, ‘to be successful, policies need not only to be well designed but to have political and social support’, and that Europe and the Member States need, beyond fiscal consolidation, structural reforms leading to real, sustainable and socially balanced growth, sustainable employment and strengthened competitiveness while more specific and urgent measures should be taken to tackle the unacceptably high levels of unemployment, in particular youth unemployment; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to monitor the compliance of all Member States’ reports with Europe 2020 targets, notably with regard to poverty reduction and employment, and to carefully look at the interconnections and interdependence between policies;

2.  Welcomes the achievements made in several Member States which allowed their deficit procedures to be closed;

3.  Welcomes the Commission’s statement that ‘deficit’ countries need to boost their competitiveness and that ‘surplus’ countries need to boost, where possible, their demand in a proportionate and sustainable way in order to contribute to the stability and growth of the eurozone;

4.  Believes that the EU economy as a whole needs to boost its competitiveness in the global economy, particularly by increasing competition in the product and services markets to enhance productivity and to lower prices, and by keeping labour costs in line with productivity; stresses that the EU cannot compete on costs alone, but needs to invest more in research and development, education and skills, and resource efficiency;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission and the Council aim to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to the CSRs thus to ensurethat recommendations are fine-tuned according to the national specificities and needs of the Member State concerned while remaining focused on growth-enhancing policies and fiscal stability; calls on the Member States to assess the social impact of economic and structural reform plans, and to ensure that a genuine evaluation is made of their implementation with a view to more efficient cross-policy coordination and fine-tuning;

6.  Points out that sovereigns and financial institutions show persistent vulnerabilities in a low-growth environment;

7.  Points out that the Commission has identified a significant degree of progress in comparison with previous years in only 15 % of the around 400 country-specific recommendations;

8.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission’s recommendations are directed not only at Member States but also at the euro area as a whole; considers that the recommendations made to Member States need to take increasingly into account the strong interdependence between EU economies, particularly within the euro area, and all the relevant information contained in the Alert Mechanism Report;

9.  Emphasises the importance of the monitoring and implementation of the country-specific recommendations, multilateral surveillance, the exchange of experiences and best practices, and peer reviews;

10.  Calls for deeper investigation of the reasons for the huge and visible increase in internal divergences in competitiveness, fiscal consolidation and economic performance across Member States that have resulted from the functioning of the single currency, and in particular of the asymmetric impact of common policies;

11.  Calls for a prudent interpretation of the ‘slow recovery’ growth indicators and recommends a closer look into the sustainability of the improvements identified, in particular in trade and current account balances and public deficits and the progress of structural reforms; calls for a closer look into the quality of economic forecasts as previous Commission forecasts have more often than not been revised downwards; stresses the need to design assistance programmes under conservative rather than optimistic assumptions and scenarios, in order to avoid self-defeating and pro-cyclical effects;

12.  Urges the Commission to introduce Europe 2020 national objectives into the recommendations issued to Member States under Economic Adjustment Programmes and to take proper account of the constraints created by these adjustment programmes in the delivery of such objectives; calls also for the democratic legitimacy of such programmes to be promoted and enhanced;

13.  Welcomes the fact that some Member States have submitted Europe 2020 progress reports, in some cases outlining specific projects for achieving the targets; calls on all Member States to include such reports in their 2014 European Semester contributions; regrets that the Commission has not presented a Europe 2020 progress report; calls on the Commission to present such a report annually;

14.  Deplores the fact that no CSRs address the challenge posed by the impact of the labour taxation regime on long-term investment and the outcome in terms of job creation;

15.  Welcomes the Commission’s statement that European competitiveness ‘cannot and will not be based merely on costs’; points out, in addition, that it is essential to enhance productivity, including capital, resource and energy productivity, social inclusion, investment in education and life-long learning, research and innovation and resource efficiency, in line with Europe 2020 goals; encourages additional progress on the Europe 2020 targets, especially in the area of employment; calls for the above to be adequately reflected in the ‘deficit’ countries’ CSRs as these are the Member States which are in critical need of boosting their competitiveness;

16.  Welcomes the Commission’s country-specific recommendations in the field of environmental taxation and its job-creation potential, and calls on the Commission to take this into account in the upcoming Annual Growth Survey; highlights the positive budgetary, employment, social, and environmental impact of shifting taxation from labour to environmental taxation;

17.  Regrets delays in implementing the EUR 120 billion ‘Compact for Growth and Jobs’ agreed in June 2012, the Project Bond initiative launched in November 2012 and the EUR 180 billion additional investment by the EIB; calls on the Council and the Commission to investigate and quickly remove the obstacles preventing full delivery of these initiatives;

18.  Calls on the Commission to submit as a matter of urgency legislative proposals with the aim of creating a genuine convergence process within the EU Semester, based on Europe 2020 objectives and including incentives supporting Member States in the implementation of structural reforms, such as a Competitiveness and Convergence Instrument (CCI), as well as provisions on ex-ante economic policy coordination based on the Community method;

19.  Calls on the Commission to include within the scope of a CCI financial support to structural reforms in areas that block economic dynamism and efficiency;

20.  Welcomes the use by the Commission of the flexibility offered by the revised SGP to extend the deadlines for the correction of excessive deficits in seven procedures; understands that this extension will make it easier for those countries to implement the structural reforms they need; calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that the content and the calendar of the fiscal adjustment path are adapted to the specificity of each country and, particularly in ‘deficit’ countries, include the aforementioned flexibility and the full use of European structural and investment funds, sound and sustainable structural reforms and the identification of investments (notably in the CSR) essential to boost competitiveness; welcomes the Commission’s statement that already in this year’s budgetary execution assessment and in the analysis of the national budgets for 2014, the Commission will try to accommodate, in particular within the preventive arm of the SGP, under certain conditions, non-recurrent, public investment programmes with a proven impact on the sustainability of public finances, while fully respecting the EU fiscal surveillance framework; looks forward to the Commission’s communication, expected soon, on the concrete operational framework to be presented to Parliament, in accordance with the declaration annexed to the two-pack;

21.  Notes the communication on the harmonised framework for draft budgetary plans and debt issuance reports within the euro area adopted by the Commission as guidelines in the framework of Regulation (EU) No 473/2013; looks forward to the economic dialogue due to take place with the Commission on the content of these guidelines;

22.  Welcomes the inclusion of reporting guidelines indicating how measures in the draft budgetary plans address CSRs, the targets set in the Europe 2020 strategy, and reporting guidelines on the expected distributional impact of the main expenditure and revenue measures, as well as details on the general government expenditure by function; points out that such guidelines will facilitate the monitoring of budgetary measures taken with a view to achieving Europe 2020 national targets;

23.  Looks forward to the forthcoming disclosure, agreed in the ‘two pack’ outcome, of the Commission’s and Member States’ parameters and methodological benchmarks, including the fiscal multiplier estimates underlying their macroeconomic prospects;

24.  Notes that recent wage developments in ‘surplus’ countries are contributing to sustaining demand and are also having positive spill-over effects elsewhere in the EU; welcomes the Commission’s statement that ‘surplus’ countries with sufficient fiscal space have a role to playin overcoming the current crisis, including by reducing taxes and social security contributions and by developing wages in order to boost sustainable domestic demand, taking into account international competitiveness; the ‘surplus’ countries could also promote new growth-friendly investment opportunities by means of their purchasing power, especially through investment in education, research and development, energy and infrastructure, modernise their health care and pension systems, and open up their services sector; stresses the importance of the positive spill-over effects which these actions will have across the EU, particularly if they are implemented by the largest economies within the Union;

25.  Urges the Commission to develop a genuine European industrial policy, based on enhanced competitiveness and innovation, that focuses on restoring European industrial competitiveness and scaling back policies which cause companies to relocate outside the EU; urges the Commission, furthermore, to develop a coherent European external trade policy, based on shared minimum standards, in particular in social and environmental matters; believes that it is only by intelligently managing its interface with ‘globalisation’ that Europe can guarantee growth, jobs, consumer protection, compliance with international and European law and human rights standards and, for several Member States, the recommended progressive reallocation of resources away from non-tradable sectors into tradable sectors;

26.  Commends the Commission’s statement that financial support measures taken by Member States and the EU should devote greater attention to the distributional impact of reforms, and calls on the Commission to carry out a thorough ex-ante assessment of both the short- and long-term impact of all the new recommended reforms and to derive all the necessary conclusions from previous recommendations, including those made to Member States under financial assistance programmes;

27.  Calls on the Commission to submit legislative proposals to complete the EMU, as recommended by Parliament in its resolution of 20 November 2012 entitled ‘Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union’; urges the Commission, to this end, to establish a standalone scoreboard related to the EMU social dimension; suggests that the in-depth reviews provided for in the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure could regularly review employment and social policies with a view to identifying those policies that mitigate social problems and improve employment; believes that this enhanced monitoring system would help to coordinate policies more effectively with a view to identifying and tackling major challenges in a timely fashion and integrating employment and social concerns more effectively in the overall policy landscape

28.  Agrees that the ECB’s action, which came in addition to structural reforms and the consolidation of public finances, has ‘decisively contributed to the stability of the euro area’; recognises that this action has had the effect of decreasing unsustainably high financing costs for some Member States through the Securities Market Programme (SMP) and providing a liquidity backstop for sovereign debt markets through Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs), averting a melt-down of the banking sector and helping to sever the link between banks and sovereigns, limiting speculation on sovereign debt and temporarily reducing excessive spreads; considers, however, that a lack of sustainable growth and high (and still growing) levels of private and public debt in many Member States mean that ‘a carefully managed process of deleveraging’ is required; agrees with the Commission that the improvement of the health of the banking sector must remain a priority; welcomes the establishment by the Commission, according to thecommitment it made to Parliament in the declaration annexed to the two-pack, of the high-level group chaired by Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell to deepen the analysis on, and assess thoroughly the partial substitution of national debt issuance through joint issuance in the form of a redemption fund and eurobills, considering the pros and cons of the different options ; looks forward to the report of the high-level group;

29.  Stresses that the financing of the real economy, and of SMEs in particular, has not been restored on the EU’s periphery; points out that major differences in access to finance tend to exaggerate internal divergences in the EU, and the euro area in particular, and distort the internal market through uneven competition conditions; reiterates that cleaning up bank portfolios is a precondition and stresses that negative economic prospects only partially justify such restrictive credit constraints; calls for closer monitoring of the application of the new prudential rules and the banking sector practices in financing the real economy, in particular economically viable SMEs; acknowledges, in this regard, the important role that the new innovative financial instruments can play in various European programmes and in the Cohesion Policy in fostering public and private investment, and urges the Commission to guarantee legal clarity and transparency of implementation around new financial instruments in a timely manner and before the start of the 2014-2020 programming period; calls for more analysis and supervision of the shadow banking system and its impact on the real economy; calls for the Commission to prioritise work on alternative and diversified sources of financing for SMEs, in particular through the financial markets, the European structural and investment funds, the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and public development banks;

30.  Stresses that the retreat of various financial actors to national markets suggests that they are being weakened by the fragmentation of the internal market through excessive concentration, which is blocking the interbank market and negating the advantages of the internal market, i.e. risk diversification and greater opportunities;

31.  Stresses the need to continue with programmes designed to encourage entrepreneurship among young people through the creation of special business start-up opportunities for them, accompanied by increased access to European funding and business advice;

32.  Welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposal to create a Single Resolution Mechanism (including a Single European Authority and an industry-financed Single European Fund), which is essential for completing the Banking Union; calls for the Member States, the Commission and Parliament to agree swiftly on the creation of theSingle Resolution Mechanism; urges the Council to rapidly conclude negotiations with Parliament on the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive and on the Banking Recovery and Resolution Directive (to be negotiated in parallel);

33.  Calls for direct banking recapitalisation by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to be available as soon as the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is in place, as announced by the Heads of State and Government of the eurozone in their June 2012 declaration; given the urgency of having a Single Resolution Fund to accompany the SSM, supports the immediate establishment of a backstop mechanism, with a reimbursement period by industry; asks the Commission to put forward a proposal to bring the ESM under the Community acquis while providing for comprehensive European Parliament democratic accountability;

34.  Welcomes the Commission’s ‘Action Plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion’ and its recommendations on ‘measures intended to encourage all EU Member States and third countries to apply minimum standards of good governance in tax matters’ and on ‘aggressive tax planning’, adopted on 6 December 2012; recalls Parliament’s resolution of 21 May 2013 on the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax havens, which identified further measures that needed to be taken in the field of tax fraud, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and tax havens; stresses that fairness and justice in burden sharing require a reinforced approach to tax fraud and evasion; calls for urgent action and a comprehensive strategy based on concrete legislative measures by the Commission to fight tax fraud and tax evasion and for clear support from the Council on all blocked or pending dossiers related to taxation;

35.  Calls on the Council to conclude the negotiations for the Financial Transaction Tax, to urge the introduction of the tax throughout Europe and to include in its agenda, as a matter of urgency, measures to close the tax gap, tackle tax havens and work on convergence of tax systems within the EU;

36.  Believes that the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax, to be pursued through enhanced cooperation, should be regarded as the first step towards its introduction worldwide;

37.  Calls for the full and urgent application of the 6-pack and of the 2-pack, with the aim of reshaping the ad hoc system of ‘troikas’ into a legally sound structure under Community law, guaranteeing democratic accountability; urges the Troika to revise its communication strategy, which has repeatedly proved to be a disaster; stresses that, in the medium term, a purely European system would be preferable and that the Commission should draw up proposals to reshape the ‘troika’ model adequately;

38.  Recalls that the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, confirmed in his remarks to Parliament on 1 February 2012 that the ESM’s operation would be subject to the scrutiny of the European Parliament; to this end, looks forward to the negotiation of an arrangement with the Eurogroup providing, inter alia, for the possibility of organising hearings and addressing written questions to the ESM’s Managing Director and Board of Governors;

39.  Stresses that the European Semester must in no way jeopardise the prerogatives of the European Parliament and of the national parliaments; urges the Commission to ensure the proper formal involvement of the European Parliament in all the steps of the European Semester process in order to increase the legitimacy of decisions which affect all citizens; calls on the Commission to find ways to increase the visibility of the process;

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

41.  Urges the Member States to actively involve their national parliaments, the social partners and civil society in the European Semester process as a whole, and particularly in the development, discussion, monitoring and evaluation of their national reform programmes; urges the Commission to ensure that involvement; stresses that the engagement of all stakeholders in the development of the necessary reforms is crucial to their delivery and success;

42.  Emphasises the importance of the dialogue between the European Parliament and national parliaments with a view to achieving a fully operational European Semester process and attaining the necessary level of democratic accountability with regard to all those involved; underlines the usefulness of the European Parliamentary Week on the European Semester for Economic Policy Coordination (EPW 2013);

43.  Regrets the fact that the Council position on the country-specific recommendations proposed by the Commission was not made public in real time; regrets the fact that the European Council’s deliberations on the Council position on the country-specific recommendations were not made public in real time;

44.  Stresses that there should be a clear division between EU and national competences and that the European Parliament is the seat of accountability at Union level; requests that, whenever new competences are transferred to or created at Union level or new Union institutions are established, corresponding democratic scrutiny by, and accountability to, the European Parliament be ensured;

Sectoral contributions to the European Semester 2013

Employment and social policies

45.  Considers the Commission’s recognition of the need to reduce taxes on employment in favour of other sources of income to be a positive development, which will speed up the fiscal consolidation process on a fairer basis;

46.  Recognises that this year’s country specific recommendations (CSRs) are particularly important because the Member States are defining their investment priorities for cohesion policy in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF); calls, in this connection, for increased targeting of EU funding on all priorities under the Europe 2020 strategy, in particular through growth and employment policies, including combating youth unemployment and long-term unemployment, and creating lasting jobs which are not precarious, entail the compulsory payment of social security contributions and are adequately remunerated; expresses its concern at the increasing social and economic divergences among Member States;

47.  Notes that several Member States have adopted major labour market reforms aimed at improving the labour market’s resilience, introducing more internal and external flexibility, reducing segmentation and facilitating transition between jobs; stresses that labour reforms should be carried out with adequate consensus among the social partners;

48.  Asks the Member States and the Commission, in its policy guidance and CSRs, to ensure that the necessary flexibility that is needed on the labour market is balanced with adequate levels of social protection which are characteristic of our socialmarket economy, and that labour market reforms aim at promoting high levels of employment quality in work, improving social risk management, achieving progress in the inclusion of vulnerable groups in the labour market, reducing in-work poverty, reconciling work and family life, promoting gender equality, promoting health and safety at work, strengthening the rights of workers with atypical contracts and improving social protection for self-employed workers;

49.  Notes that all the Member States received recommendations with regard to levels of labour market participation; calls on those Member States with low levels of labour market participation to step up, in consultation with the social partners, active, comprehensive and inclusive labour market measures, such as training and employment services, and to introduce further reforms to facilitate access to quality employment, facilitate the reconciliation of work and private life, prevent early withdrawal from the labour market, improve competitiveness and combat labour market segmentation, as well as matching workers’ skills with labour market requirements;

50.  Points out that the situation of unemployed young people is particularly worrying and that urgent action is needed; calls for a European Pact for Youth Employment to put into effect the long-agreed measures and for new resources and measures to be committed to tackling youth unemployment, reducing the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) and poverty among young people, taking into account the qualitative aspect of decent work fully respecting core labour standards;

51.  Looks forward to the frontloading of the Youth Employment Initiative in accordance with the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs’ callthrough its amendments to the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR);

52.  Welcomes the adoption of the Youth Guarantee by the Council and the earmarking of EUR 6 billion for the Youth Employment Initiative under the next MFF; calls on the Member States to urgently implement Youth Guarantee Schemes and use available resources in an efficient way, concentrating activities on those in the most difficult situation;

53.  Notes with satisfaction that these funds can be used during the first two years of the next MFF; stresses that this amount is, however, insufficient to combat youth unemployment in a lasting manner and that it should form merely an initial tranche with which to combat youth unemployment;

54.  Encourages the Commission to continue the work of the Youth Employment Action Teams to help the Member States with the highest levels of youth unemployment to reprogramme EU structural funding under the 2007-2013 MFF in order to target it at young people; welcomes the Commission’s intention to build on the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES) by intensifying and broadening its activities and, in particular, by promoting youth mobility; notes, however, that mobility must remain voluntary and that efforts to create jobs and training places on the spot must not be limited by it;

55.  Calls on the Commission to propose a quality framework for traineeships comprising, inter alia, criteria for proper remuneration, learning outcomes, working conditions and health and safety standards; calls on the Commission, the Member States and the EU social partners to implement the Alliance for Apprenticeships in an ambitious manner;

56.  Believes there is an urgent need, given the numbers of workers, particularly young people, departing their countries of origin for other EU countries in search of employment opportunities, to develop appropriate measures to revise European law in order to guarantee the portability of pension rights and, for a period of at least three months, the continuation of employment benefits while searching work in another Member State; welcomes the improvements to the European mobility portal and calls for a specific strategy to be drafted for it together with the Member States;

57.  Welcomes the fact that for the first time some CSRs address the particular situation of Member States regarding poverty; strongly condemns the fact that no CSR specifically addresses the case of labour markets from which women are excluded and where no measure is foreseen to include them;

58.  Stresses that specific action is needed to increase the labour participation of women, older workers and workers with disabilities by ensuring that there are efficient incentives to return to, and stay in, work; recalls that the quality, affordability and accessibility of services related to early childhood education, childcare and eldercare play a crucial role;

59.  Stresses that the long-term unemployed should be supported by job creation and integrated active inclusion approaches, including positive activation incentives such as personalised guidance and welfare-to-work programmes, adequate benefit systems and access to quality services in order to support them in reconnecting with the labour market and accessing quality jobs;

60.  Recalls the skills mismatches and bottlenecks in many regions and sectors and the inability of certain education and training systems to cope with market demands and workers’ needs in this context; welcomes the reforms to vocational education and training systems undertaken by several Member States in order to adapt skills and competences to the labour market and to future workers’ needs, especially those of young people; stresses, in this context, the advantages of dual training systems; recalls that almost all Member States need to take further action and invest more in education and training, research, innovation and development;

61.  Notes that, in addition to reform of the education and training sector, a long-term sustainable, criteria-based immigration strategy is needed to respond to the shortage of skilled labour and to demographic change;

62.  Notes that the crisis has had a severe and lasting impact on the Member States’ levels of unemployment and their social situation, which has led to unsustainable increases in poverty and social exclusion, including child poverty, homelessness, social inequality, in-work poverty and over-indebtedness of households; calls, in this context, on the Member States to reinforce safety nets and ensure the effectiveness of the welfare systems that deal with those affected, as well as to invest in preventive measures;

Budgetary policies

63.  Recalls the fact that, despite it being too modest in size in absolute and relative terms when compared with the Union’s economic wealth, the EU budget has important added value as a tool in promoting the Europe 2020 objectives, considering its role as a catalyst for investment;

64.  Regrets the fact that the Member States are continuing to underestimate the role and contribution of the EU budget in strengthening economic governance and budget coordination throughout the Union; urges the Council, in this connection and with due regard for the joint declaration signed by Parliament, the Council and the Commission in December 2012 and to Parliament’s resolution of 3 July 2013 on the political agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020, to adopt in full any amending budget for 2013 submitted by the Commission which may still be needed over the course of the year, in order to close the current Multiannual Financial Framework period with a clean balance sheet;

65.  Reiterates that the compromise reached at the European Council meeting of 8 February 2013 on the MFF 2014-2020 did not match Parliament’s expectations; insists that any agreement on such a low level could only be acceptable on the terms set out in its resolution of 3 July 2013;

66.  Is convinced that a credible EU contribution to ending the current crisis must be based on a fundamental shift in the way the EU budget is financed, i.e. towards genuine own resources;

67.  Urges the Member States to do their utmost to decide in a timely manner on their national programming for the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, in order to avoid delays in using these funds, whose aim is to support growth and job creation;

68.  Stresses the importance of science and innovation for the strategic development of competitiveness and, therefore, job creation at European level in order to overcome the economic and financial crisis;

Internal market

69.  Recalls that the Single Market is a key driver for growth and jobs and has an indispensable role to play in meeting the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; notes, however, that this potential remains untapped in many respects;

70.  Recalls that the full economic and job potential of the services sector remains untapped; calls for full and appropriate implementation of the EU Services Directive whilst safeguarding public service obligations which can ensure universal access to affordable quality services for all; calls on the Member States to invest particularly in quality social services; notes, at the same time, that wage and social standards must be complied with; calls on the Member States to remove barriers in the retail sector and excessive restrictions in professional services and regulated professions; calls, at the same time, for the removal of barriers to the free movement of workers in order to improve mobility and optimise the use of EU human capital;

71.  Welcomes the fact that, in the European Semester 2013, the Annual Growth Survey has for the first time been underpinned by a report on the state of single market integration;

72.  Regrets, however, that, despite the strong evidence for the importance of the single market in overcoming the crisis, the 2013 country-specific recommendations do not sufficiently address the growth, consumer-confidence and jobs potential of the proper implementation and enforcement of single market rules;

73.  Supports the emphasis in this year’s country-specific recommendations on the importance of removing unjustified restrictions and barriers to entry in the services sectors; urges the Member States concerned to give those recommendations their utmost consideration and to remove, with urgent priority, these obstacles to the growth of the single market;

74.  Calls on the Commission to make single market governance a priority in its next Annual Growth Survey and in the European Semester 2014, and, in the next country-specific recommendations, to take full account of the key growth areas – identified as the services sector, the energy sector, the transport sector and the digital single market – and of the measures included in the Single Market Acts I and II;

75.  Regrets the fact that the lack of national and European investment is impeding the achievement of the priority goals and objectives in the key areas of energy, transport and digital market indicated in the report on the ‘State of the Single Market Integration 2013 – Contribution to the Annual Growth Survey 2013’;

76.  Urges the Member States and the Commission, in the meantime, to step up their efforts to enforce single market legislation and to monitor this enforcement, inter alia through regular EU sweeps;

77.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to strengthen single market governance by establishing, as a specific pillar of the European Semester, an annual Single Market governance cycle that includes the Internal Market Scoreboard, an annual report on the integration of the Single Market as part of the Annual Growth Survey, European Council guidance to Member States, national action plans aimed at implementing the Single Market guidelines, and dedicated country-specific recommendations;

78.  Is greatly concerned by the persistent uncertainty of private investors, their lack of confidence and their reluctance to invest, in particular as a consequence of productivity standards with persisting single market fragmentation and changes in industrial policy; deplores the fact that, as a consequence of the crisis, a low-confidence environment is making both private investors and financial sector institutions highly risk-averse and reiterates that the work to reinforce the banking sector should continue;

Regional policies

79.  Is deeply concerned by the sharp downturn in public and private investment in the productive economy and especially at local and regional level; takes the view that decisive measures are needed to reform product and labour markets, adopt cautious wage policies and base the future growth model on innovation and shift production towards high value-added activities; takes the view that a sustainable economic policy depends on very favourable conditions for business start-ups; expresses its firm belief that the Structural and Investment Funds are essential in order to prevent and mitigate any shortfall in the aforementioned respects and to boost public investment; points to the opportunities which could be used in the Member States to support public investment from the Structural Funds by giving the financial procedures for these funds a degree of flexibility, e.g. by increasing the co-financing rates of states which become involved in an adjustment programme and receive EU financial assistance or by prolonging the decommitment rule by one year for all Member States in the programming period 2007-2013 (as will be the case in the programming period 2014-2020);

80.  Considers that the involvement of regional and local authorities in the planning and implementation of relevant programmes, in particular the Europe 2020 strategy, should be increased, in order to enhance their sense of responsibility for the strategy’s goals at all levels and ensure greater awareness on the ground of its objectives and results;

Women’s rights and gender equality

81.  Welcomes the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) regarding measures to improve childcare facilities, to remove disincentives for second earners, to harmonise the statutory retirement age for men and women, to accommodate the need to combine work and private life, in particular by improving access to new technologies and to training in their use, and to eliminate gender and pension gaps; expresses its concern at the fact that many of these recommendations were already laid down in 2012, indicating a lack of implementation in Member States;

82.  Stresses that Member States should improve the participation rate of children and young adults in educational systems and should put more focus on the problem of early school leaving, especially by collecting information on its main causes with a view to adopting and implementing policies for its prevention;

83.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take due account of gender-related targets in national employment programmes, paying particular attention to women with elderly dependents, single mothers and women having children with disabilities; calls, furthermore, for proper attention to be paid to the issue of early school leaving, given the sharp rise in the number of children who drop out of education between the ages of 10 and 16 and the loss of resources that this clearly represents for the EU as a whole;

84.  Calls on the Commission, in its upcoming Annual Growth Survey, to raise the issue of specific policy guidelines on reducing gender inequalities, including, in particular, guidelines on closing the gender pay gap – which often results in women finding themselves below the poverty line at a later stage of their lives – as well as the gender pension gap, on increasing the participation of women in the labour market and on combating gender segregation in the labour market, since the future prosperity of the EU depends crucially on its ability to fully utilise its labour resources;

85.  Points to the importance of gender budgeting with a view to examining all government programmes and policies, their effects on resource allocation, and their contribution to equality between women and men;

o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0408
(2) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 12.
(3) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 41.
(4) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 8.
(5) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 33.
(6) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 25.
(7) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 11.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0052.
(11) European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department C.

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