S&D Group: "Commission Work Programme is positive, but the time has come to be bolder!"

S&D Group: Commission Work Programme positive, now time to implement strong Social Agenda for Europe, Maria João Rodrigues, European pillar of social rights, EMU with a proper Banking Union and fiscal capacity, fight tax evasion, protect the Schengen area

Today, the S&D Group welcomed the presentation of the Commission´s Work Programme for 2016, which includes several proposals the group has been advocating for. Nevertheless, better priority setting is needed to deal with this decisive moment for European integration.

Commenting on the Programme, S&D vice president Maria João Rodrigues said:

"In the light of the refugee crisis, our most acute challenge is to prevent a massive humanitarian disaster and to protect the Schengen area through a real asylum system, stronger external borders and an effective relocation policy.

"At the same time, major steps are needed to turn the Eurozone into a real space for convergence and prosperity. It is high time for the Commission to update the Europe 2020 Strategy. This is not only about energy transition, the Circular Economy or Europe's digitalisation, but about the creation of quality jobs, through strong public investment in people.

"Today, we see a "race to the bottom" on social standards, which must be reversed. We must ensure convergence between and within member states by completing the EMU with a proper Banking Union and fiscal capacity. Much more also needs to be done to fight tax evasion and to ensure taxes are paid where profits are made.

"Thanks to our pressure, the Commission's social agenda is now considerably stronger, but we look forward to concrete proposals on the European pillar of social rights, to a new start for working parents and a new skills agenda.

"Finally, Europe can and must be a global leader on sustainable growth, promoting an ambitious climate agreement at the Paris conference and acting swiftly to implement global Sustainable Development Goals. We welcome the Commission's commitment to sustainable development as the key objective for both internal and external policies, and we want to see concrete follow-up soon".

Enrique Guerrero Salom, S&D vice president, concluded:

"The Commission is right. There is no time left for business as usual. We urgently need to regain citizens' trust and restore confidence in the European project. The proposal presented today by the Commission is the outcome of a frank and constructive dialogue between our institutions and several of our requests and concerns have been taken into account.

"We will keep up our fight against fiscal dumping and tax avoidance and for a fair taxation agenda. It is crucial to fully implement a true social European agenda.

"We will remain vigilant on those issues that have strategic political relevance for our Group in the European Parliament".

Note to the editors:

The Commission's 2016 Work Programme responds to the EP's Resolution adopted in September 2015, which urged the Commission to "come up with a powerful response to address the EU’s social problems" and called for greater investment fostering quality job creation and supporting education, childcare and other social services.