martes, 18 de junio de 2013

Country-specific recommendations: yes to breathing space, no to austerity theory

The extra economic reform "breathing space" granted to enable EU countries to meet deficit-cutting requirements and boost growth was welcomed by MEPs in Monday's joint economic affairs and employment committee debate with Commissioners Olli Rehn and László Andor. MEPs also criticized the analysis and economic theories underlying austerity recommendations.

Annual country-specific reform (CSR) recommendations are proposed by the Commission to each country and adopted by the European Council. They offer advice to guide national structural reform policy.

Extra breathing space

MEPs welcomed the fact that this year's recommendations grant France, Spain and Poland an extra two years, and Belgium, Netherlands and Portugal an extra year, to meet deficit-cutting requirements.

The European Commission's country-specific reform recommendations are much stricter for small member states than big ones and that those receiving aid, like Greece or Portugal, are made to undergo "undemocratic" decision-making, said Anni Podimata (S&D, EL).

Austerity theory

Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, DE) noted that the CSR recommendations include no overview, with hard figures, on how reform is progressing in the member states. MEPs also complained that the analysis and economic theories upon which the Commission based its prescription of austerity were fragmented or inadequate, and Corien Wortmann-Kool (EPP, NL) suggested that the new "six-pack" and "two-pack" tools should be used to check that reforms are put into practice.

More democracy

"The recommendations will be better implemented and the structural reforms will be accepted more readily by society, if they are decided more democratically, by involving the European and national parliaments", said committee chair Sharon Bowles (ALDE, UK) opening the joint Economic and Monetary Affairs and Employment and Social Affairs committees debate.

This view was shared by Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR), who also worried about the quality of social dialogue. "The CSRs should have been presented to Parliament as soon as they were published on 29 May", she added.

Lending to the real economy

Reform should focus on restoring lending to the real economy and helping SMEs out of the financial trap of costly loans, said Pablo Zalba Bidegain (EPP, ES) Tax reform should restrict short-term speculative capital movements and encourage the long-term investments, added Ms Berès.

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