Parliament guidelines on Economic Crisis. Othmar Karas MEP and Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP
Tomorrow Parliament will set up clear, ambitious guidelines to respond with concrete measures to the Economic and Social Crisis in the Member States and the European Union. This mid-term report of the European Parliaments' CRIS Committee, reflects the EPP Group's blueprint and has replaced the initial draft report which was perceived as ideologically biased and was therefore subject to 1625 amendments from all political Groups. The CRIS Committee has, over the past year, analysed and evaluated the extent of the crisis as well as its impact on citizens and the real economy, the Union and its Member States.
"The crisis is still not over. We are right in the middle of it. There is an urgent need for more Europe; for political and intellectual leadership to put the European project back on track. Europe must get the resources it needs to meet its ambitions; the EU budget needs to be strategically focused", says Othmar Karas MEP, Coordinator in the Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis (CRIS).
The report underlines that it is equally important to bring EU Member States' public deficits under control and to ensure not to place an unbearable burden of excessive debt on future generations. The necessary tools and resources must be made available for future growth. The governance structure of the Europe 2020 strategy should be strengthened to ensure that its objectives can be achieved.
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP is the EPP Group's Shadow Rapporteur: "We did our best to contribute to a draft report which, several months ago, was still set to fail", she says. In the meantime the report, which makes recommendations on how to avoid a repeat of the crisis, has evolved into a substantial contribution to finding a sustainable solution. The EPP Group led the negotiations and has been at the origin of the new draft proposal put forward at the beginning of September.
"The EU needs to find new, innovative ways to finance and support future growth, based on SMEs, innovation and R&D. One possibility could be public-private partnerships with private equity funds, whereby public, private and EIB money would be used to leverage risky private investment up to 80 percent," says Pietikäinen MEP.
The report is based on different thematic papers. All three EPP Group papers were taken on board and became an integral part of Parliament's recommendations: Danuta Hübner's on Cohesion, Alain Lamassoure's on Budget and Regina Bastos' on SMEs. "The financial and supervisory reform agenda must move forward rapidly", says Alain Lamassoure MEP. "We also need to redesign the taxation systems in a fair manner, in a way that discourages the build up of excessive leverage and promotes social justice, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. Fiscal and monetary policies are not substitutes for structural reforms and depth consolidation is not optional."
Cohesion policy has become an essential element of the European Economic Recovery Package as a public policy which can be part of the response to the crisis and address short term demand stimulation while at the same time investing in the long term growth and competitiveness. It mobilises local and regional growth; it invests across Europe in energy efficiency, innovation, skills and trans-European networks. It has already become a bridge to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy", says Danuta Hübner MEP who worked out the EPP paper on Cohesion policy which is included in the report.
Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises are crucial for future development, growth and welfare in the EU, and that the EU's competitiveness vis-à-vis the world can be strengthened by prioritising SMEs", says Regina Bastos MEP. "The current definition of an SME in the EU has to be re-examined and the criteria regarding the number of employees need to be lowered in order to allow for more targeted policies aimed at SMEs." CRIS vice chair Iliana Ivanova MEP has highlighted the relevance of "establishing a demand-led education system, which would allow us to boost employment across the Union and foster a more mobile labour market." She also stressed that "the implementation of the structural reforms in the new Member States, needs strong support and solidarity from the Union."
Following the vote on the interim report and during the second term of its mandate, the Crisis Committee will consult national parliaments - an idea put forward by the EPP Group as a way of implementing the Lisbon Treaty and including the Member States in the process. "We will therefore work closely with our counterparts in national parliaments over the next few months until the final report is negotiated", Othmar Karas concluded.
For further information:
Othmar Karas MEP, Tel: +33-3-88175627
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Tel: +33-3-88175264
Andrea Strasser, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-473-311175
Antti Timonen, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-474-851831
Notes to Editors:
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 265 Members.