At the end of last year, it was the Commission, which already voiced a demand for more investments. This week, it was the European Parliament, which made the same request during its consultations on the Annual Growth Survey 2017 of the European Commission in Strasbourg. It appears that the Finance Ministers are now the only ones who cannot make their mind up.


Based on its Annual Growth Survey (AGS) and its accompanying documents, the European Commission each year determines the economic and social priorities of the EU. In its Position Paper, the AK basically welcomed that the European Commission recognises social problem situations in its 2017 Survey and that it formulates stronger inclusive growth and social justice as its targets. In spite of this, from the point of view of the AK, this year's AGS too fails to initiate a basic change of course, which would be urgently needed to strengthen the EU’s social dimension.


In its Hökmark-Report, the European Parliament this week also debated the AGS of the Commission. The report itself can be considered as the art of compromise. It addresses the still too low growth dynamics of the EU, which are explained by far too small investments. As a result, unemployment and in particular youth and long-term unemployment are still far too high. The policy of the ECB, which, however, could not be continued in its present form for very much longer, received praise. The report also criticizes Germany’s high current account surpluses, albeit without explicitly mentioning the Federal Republic. Worth mentioning is also the emphasis on the necessary strengthening of domestic demand. However, other parts of the report once again repeat the well-trodden recipes, for example the demand for a Capital Markets Union, the completion of the Banking Union, the focus on so-called structural and labour market reforms, and the call for a responsible budget implementation.


Remarkable from the point of view of the AK is also the passage included in the report on the future viability of pensions. Here, Hökmark and Co. point towards the importance of a high employment rate for the sustainability of pensions: a link, which the AK has emphasised in many European talks with the assistance of the AK dependency ratio calculator for many years.


The very interesting Report by Yana Toom, which was also voted on this week in Strasbourg, shed a particular light on the employment and socio-political aspects included in the AGS 2017. Here too, the European Parliament points towards the importance of social justice for inclusive growth and urges the Commission in particular to use its labour market recommendations to the Member States to put more emphasis on active labour market policy and on strengthening the rights and the protection of employees. This progressive own-initiative report of the Estonian Liberal MEP includes the demand for more investments and for stimulating domestic demand, an improved strategy for gender equality and measures to increase women’s participation in the labour market. The report also stresses the acceleration and continuation of the Youth Guarantee, forcing back atypical and precarious forms of employment as well as the importance of the social partnership. The report by Gunnar Hökmark was adopted with 418 votes in favour and 202 votes against; the report by Yana Toom with 317 votes in favour and 133 votes against.


Further information:

AK Position paper on the Annual Growth Survey 2017

Alternative Annual Growth Survey