This morning, the European Parliament will debate two crucial reports on the future of the EU’s economic policies, to be voted later in the day. The European Semester exercise for next year is especially important as it is connected with the implementation of the national recovery and resilience plans, and the use of European funds. Against the resistance of some conservatives and liberals who stick doggedly to austerity policies, the Socialists and Democrats are fighting for a socially just implementation of the Green Deal.
Iratxe García, S&D Group leader, said:
“I am proud that the Socialists and Democrats changed the political trajectory of the EU towards a sustainable and social future when we obtained the pledge from the new Commission to put the Green Deal at the heart of their work. Ursula von der Leyen committed to aligning the European Semester with the Green Deal and the European Pillar of Social Rights by integrating the United Nations Social Development Goals. This is key for delivering real change, because the European Sustainable Semester process is the best tool the EU holds in its hands to integrate ambitious ecological and social objectives in order to improve people’s lives.
“It is shocking, that some conservatives and liberals are working to undermine the very goals the Commission they voted into office put at the core of its work. Recent examples include the vote on the climate law and now the European Semester. Too many conservatives and liberals only pay lip-service to change while they continue to administer the wrong medicine to our people and the economy: austerity. People were made to suffer because of the misguided ideological dogma of these high priests of austerity and we will not allow the mistakes of the past to be repeated.”
Klára Dobrev, S&D MEP and author of the parliamentary report Employment and social policies of the euro area, said:
“I am proud that my report clearly shows that the lessons from the 2008 crisis have been learned: no more misguided austerity measures in 2020. We must make the fight against the social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic our first priority to ensure that the most vulnerable people – the elderly, families already struggling to make ends meet, women and essential workers – do not bear the brunt of this crisis again. This is why we urge EU governments to use the available fiscal flexibility to strengthen social welfare systems, invest in education and healthcare.
"Millions of jobs are on the line and millions of people are being pushed into even more precarious work conditions. To end the scandal of in-work poverty, we need a framework for minimum wages, in line with national traditions and with due respect for the autonomy of national social partners, and we need to combat zero-hour contracts, bogus self-employment and the improper use of non-standard contracts. Decent wages are indispensable for fair working conditions and a thriving social market economy.
“But we need more. Progress plans in the Next Generation EU recovery plan are essential to ensure more effective, equitable and stronger welfare states capable of cushioning the social impact of the crisis. Clearly, we also need a new growth agenda to replace the EU 2020 strategy. To ensure social cohesion and fairness to all, we must bring together the European Green Deal, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Semester with a longer-term vision working towards sustainable wellbeing. This is why my group will continue the fight to make our social and ecological targets mandatory for member states.”
Joachim Schuster, S&D MEP and author of the Parliament report Economic policies of the euro area said:
“The Recovery Plan for Europe offers a unique opportunity to build a better future by reducing economic divergence, fighting the climate emergency and boosting social resilience. To reach these goals and co-ordinate the social and environmental policies needed for the recovery, we must reform the European Semester.
“The high priests of austerity want to force Europe into the corset of the Stability and Growth Pact again, a course that even before the onslaught of this crisis cut off much-needed investments. Instead of strangling growth, our people and SMEs now need investments more than ever: both as a life-line and for building bridges to the future. This is why my group is working for a reform of our budget rules to move away from the absolute and arbitrary 60% target to a relative and realistic target coupled to growth rates. To meet the challenges of digitalisation and the climate emergency, to ensure our children will live in a sustainable, prosperous and socially just society, we must step up investments significantly.
“In my report, we call on the Commission and member states to ensure that only companies that pay their fair share of taxes, refrain from paying dividends and keep people on the payroll will receive EU recovery funds or state aid. No tax money for tax cheaters!”