May 20, 2014
Europe finds itself in a moment where nothing can be done to resurrect the Europe 2020 Strategy, thus is necessary a revision of the EU 2020 objectives, particularly those related to employment, research, poverty reduction, energy efficiency and economic growth.
The mid-term reviews and the attempts to reach the targets calculated at another time, when the Strategy was elaborated, become impediments in achieving goals that fold better on the current needs and realities [taking into account they were deeply and structurally shaped by the political, economic and social crises]. Thus an update of these figures and its overall objectives are deeply necessary.
The economic crisis, for example, clearly and strongly affected the labor market. The unemployment rate climbed its highest peaks, and the youth unemployment generated the possible scenario of a lost generation (in case that labor market doesn’t recover soon – but there is not much hope). These aspects were not taken into account when Europe 2020 has been drafted, for the simple fact that they were not anticipated. Basically, it really wasn’t possible.
After the latest analysis, the most affected Europe 2020 objectives those concerning employment, research and development expenditures, poverty reduction, energy efficiency, low investment and unemployment, which basically cannot be achieved by most of the European countries, not even by those developed.
The European Commission has made its recommendations for the 2014 National Reform Programmes of its member states at the end of March, based on the statistics on economic developments.
After assessing the social and economic situation in Europe, the general policy priorities for the Union are set by the European Commission. It launches the new European Semester for economic policy coordination so that the member states coordinate their efforts in order to stimulate growth and employment.
The European Commission confirms in this document the signs of a slow recovery. After five years of stagnation, the EU registered a positive growth in the second quarter of 2013. The predictions state that this pace will continue and will be strengthened in 2014, and that inflation will remain under control.
The Annual Growth Survey doesn’t shift from the austerity policy, which dominated Europe during the crisis so far, towards a growth-centered, future-oriented, dynamic and inclusive Europe.
The signs of recovery are seen as an encouragement to maintain the efforts to make macroeconomic corrections based on the German model, without taking risks, without betting on growth and walking the thorny path of austerity. I only wonder how strong is the European citizen, how long will he resist these measures directly affecting him without an aggressive and open reaction? Of course during an electoral period the impact will be diminished, but what happens after it? Especially in European countries that aren’t ruled by the Social Democrats who were the last bulwark against extreme disparities between poor and rich, exacerbated unemployment rate, social exclusion and marginalization. The crisis diluted the social Europe and the European project cannot be reinvented only by beginning with a construct based on serving people, not banks and not other entities – protecting people and obtaining the much desired and expected economic performance.
2014 has some advantages we should use – the government deficits were reduced, the exports and overall economy began to grow, the reforms are on the right track. Sure, they were all made with immense human, social and economic costs. But if all costs have emerged and the bills have started or will start to pay, what will we further do with this slight growth? How will we maintain it and what can we do to make it more vigorous?
First, aside from the electoral campaign and the restructuring of the European Union’s executive, there should be taken into account at least two major themes:
– Exports diversification, connecting with emerging markets and developing economic partnerships and strengthening the existing ones (an important step will be finishing the Transatlantic Treaty with the United States);
– A strategy to reduce youth unemployment, a well developed one and easy to apply in the shortest time. In this sense the circular migration could be considered, it involves returning home after some time.
Also, high priority should be granted to increasing the energy efficiency and the energy independence of European countries, the research and innovation spending sould be increased, the solutions for education, training and labor market inclusion should be supported and well-funded.
I do not argue that we mustn’t continue the efforts to strengthen the economic governance, I say that we must rethink the priorities and not to forget that people are already burdened with huge and oppressive bills. The role of the Economic and Monetary Union should not be diminished, but be filled with special care given to those sectors of the Europe 2020 strategy that risk not being met.
Actually, what I strongly advocate for is a quick, real, reality-based and made on correct predictions review. Now, compared with the first stage and the approval of this strategy, the future looms in a completely different way.
The importance of a banking union based on common rules and a system of banking supervision are essential for the European financial stability.
Another important fact that will impact the years to come is the setting of the new Multiannual European Financial Framework. Innovation, infrastructure, investment in SMEs for growth, for employment are priorities that must be better placed in a coherent vision for Europe and for each Member State. Maybe the money is not enough, I often told this – 1% of European GDP, and not all of it goes to the structural and cohesion funds, but the money should be directed to those few areas that really add value.
For Romania the money matters a lot, the European funds being one of the main and few viable growth engines, and with the experience of previous years we support and we desire an efficient share and an increased absorption of these funds.
Not for the act of absorption itself- because it is not so important, although he sends performance proofs about the economic, legislative and social development of a nation – but for the real economic and social added value the money must produce.
Author : Adrian Marius Dobre