The European Commission is accelerating its efforts for economic renewal, with moves to address three interwoven challenges facing the EU and the euro area in particular:
- a divergent but generally lacklustre growth and employment performance;
- insufficiently coordinated and disciplined budgetary policies;
- and unstable sovereign debt markets suffering from a lack of liquidity.
The package contains four elements:
- the 2012 Annual Growth Survey setting out the economic priorities for the coming year;
- two Regulations to tighten economic and budgetary surveillance in the euro area;
- and a Green Paper on Stability Bonds.
Commenting on the adoption of the package, President Barroso said: "To return to growth, Member States need to raise their game when it comes to implementing their commitments to structural reforms, as well as embrace deeper integration for the euro area." He continued: "The goals driving this package – economic growth, financial stability, budgetary discipline – are linked to each other. We need all of them if we are to move beyond the current emergency towards a Europe in which solidarity is balanced by strengthened responsibility."
The key message of the 2012 Annual Growth Survey is that, faced with a deteriorating economic and social situation [see IP/11/1331 ] , more efforts are needed to put Europe back on track and sustain growth and jobs. The Survey calls for the EU and Member States to focus on five priorities:
- pursuing differentiated, growth-friendly fiscal consolidation;
- restoring normal lending to the economy;
- promoting growth and competitiveness;
- tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis;
- and modernising public administration.
The AGS includes a list of pending or future proposals aimed at boosting growth, which the Commission wants to be fast-tracked through the EU legislative process.
The two proposed Regulations on strengthened surveillance for the euro area build on what has already been agreed in the ‘Six Pack’ set of legislative measures which will enter into force in mid-December. Given the deeper interdependence of the euro area countries, so clearly demonstrated by the ongoing crisis, the Commission is proposing to enhance both the coordination and the surveillance of budgetary processes for all euro area Member States and especially those with excessive deficits, experiencing or at serious risk of financial instability, or under a financial assistance programme.
Finally, with the Green Paper on Stability Bonds, the Commission is taking forward in a structured way the important debate on the joint issuance of debt in the euro area. By putting forward three options for such Stability Bonds and providing a detailed analysis of their financial and legal implications, the Commission is framing this debate, as well as setting out a clear timeline for the next steps.