Europe must aim higher in 2017, say S&Ds
The joint declaration on the EU's legislative priorities for 2017, signed in Strasbourg today by presidents Schulz and Juncker and Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico, represents a commitment by the EU institutions to work for better European solutions to the problems that people are worried about.
However, in the view of the S&D Group, several important elements which were in the European Parliament's strategic resolution of 6 July are missing in the joint declaration. The Socialists and Democrats will fight tooth and nail to ensure that decisive progress is achieved on these files in 2017.
S&D vice-president for economic and social affairs Maria João Rodrigues MEP said:
"The European Parliament acts for the people and it is increasingly shaping the EU agenda. In July, we Socialists and Democrats led the European Parliament to adopt the first detailed post-Brexit roadmap for the EU, which clearly influenced the state of the union speech by President Juncker and the subsequently adopted Commission work programme for 2017.
"The joint declaration signed today reflects many of our priorities, but nobody should think that this is the complete to-do list for 2017 and that we will give up on our other key demands.
"The Socialists and Democrats in the Parliament and in the Council will keep pushing for swift steps to end tax avoidance, fix the eurozone, improve living and working conditions, and ensure that the EU budget has enough resources. If other political groups or certain member states oppose European solutions on these matters, they must say so openly and take full responsibility. We will fight to have these priorities in the EU roadmap to be adopted in Rome on 25 March."
S&D vice-president Enrique Guerrero Salom MEP added:
"The joint declaration mainly focuses on identifying priorities in ongoing legislative work. However, for the S&D Group it is clear that some legislative priorities are missing and key new initiatives should be added.
"We will insist that all the European institutions do more than this in 2017. In particular, we will put strong pressure on the Commission to come forward with an ambitious white paper on the future of the EU and the eurozone. We will also demand serious proposals for action on the European Pillar of Social Rights.
"Europe is the best answer to the economic, social, environmental, humanitarian and external challenges which we face today. But stronger ambition is needed in order to achieve real solutions. The S&Ds will not settle for a conservative agenda that leaves our key political priorities out."
Other issues the S&Ds insist must be included are:
• faster progress towards fair taxation, including through the adoption of a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), building on the Commission's recently relaunched proposals;
• an ambitious revision of the EU's multi-annual financial framework for 2014-20 to ensure that enough money is available to invest in Europe's sustainable growth, ensure security and deal with the migration challenge;
• further steps towards repairing and completing the Economic and Monetary Union, including through creating a budgetary capacity for the eurozone and strengthening the European Stabilisation Mechanism;
• a solid European Pillar of Social Rights to update the EU's social standards in light of new trends and to ensure decent economic and social prospects for everyone.