We can use the European Council meeting at the end of next week to bring a new consensus and renewed momentum, uniting the EU around agreement on what we will do to get our economy growing again. We are bringing forward concrete measures to fight youth unemployment and to support, together with the EIB, the financing of the real economy, especially SMEs.
At the end of the weekly meeting of the Commission which was largely focused on the end June European Council meeting, President Barroso said, "Europe is doing a lot to work its way out of the crisis."
President Barroso continued: "The Commission has documented this in the detailed analysis that accompanies our country specific recommendations. But still our growth performance is very unsatisfactory and we have a social emergency in parts of Europe. We can use the European Council meeting at the end of next week to bring a new consensus and renewed momentum, uniting the EU around agreement on what we will do to get our economy growing again. We are bringing forward concrete measures to fight youth unemployment and to support, together with the EIB, the financing of the real economy, especially SMEs. The ingredients of the consensus are on the table, now we need to make it happen."
The European Commission has agreed three contributions to the next European Council, scheduled for the 27-28 June 2013. The contributions on tackling youth unemployment, better regulation and the review of the compact for growth and jobs were adopted this morning. A further contribution, jointly with the European Investment Bank on increasing lending to the economy will be made available as soon as formally adopted. This package of initiatives will help Europe to make a difference in getting people back in work and allowing companies to hire staff and invest and banks to provide lending to the real economy.
Key points of the four contributions:
Working together for Europe's young people – A call to action on youth unemployment
Combatting youth unemployment is a top priority. While most of the means are in Member States' hands, the EU level can help make a difference. The Commission has proposed a number of practical and achievable measures that have the potential for immediate impact, but some measures are yet to be agreed at EU level, in particular those linked to the MFF.
The priority is to accelerate the implementation of the Youth Guarantee The Commission is proposing that EUR 6 billion of the Youth Employment Initiative should be frontloaded so that this money is committed in 2014 and 2015 rather than over the seven year period of the MFF. Member States need to bring forward their youth employment programmes in the autumn. In parallel the Commission will develop a number of EU-level tools to help Member States, such as the EU Alliance for Apprenticeships, the coalition for digital employment, EURES and the 'your first EURES job' initiative, and helping firms to recruit young people. All these measures need to be taken forward in close partnership with the social partners and relevant stakeholders.
Joint Commission-EIB report to the European Council – Increasing lending to the economy: implementing the EIB capital increase and joint Commission-EIB initiatives
One of the biggest obstacles to recovery at the moment is the lack of normal lending to the real economy, especially SMEs, a point highlighted by the Commission in the Annual Growth Survey.
In a joint report, the European Commission and the European investment bank set out how the recently agreed capital increase of the EIB will be allocated. In addition, the report sets out three options to help SMEs get access to funding and hire young people in the near future. The Commission will urge the European Council to take an ambitious approach on this issue.
The Compact for Growth and Jobs: one year on – Report to the European Council
The European Commission has adopted a progress report on Compact for Growth and Jobs. One year on, there is much that member states can still do to help themselves, for instance by unlocking the potential of the single market in areas like digital, energy and research.
The report highlights the need to complete Single Market Act I where only 7 of the 12 proposals tabled by the Commission have been agreed by the co-legislators. The European Commission has presented most of the proposals for the Single Market Act II. It will table the remaining proposals in the coming weeks, including legislation to promote long-term investment funds which can be another alternative source of lending to the real economy. The Commission calls for swift adoption of these proposals before the European Parliament elections.
The report shows how the Commission has made available the full cohesion policy budget to support growth and job creating projects as part of the €120 billion investment package outlined in the Compact.
Commission follow-up to the 'Top Ten' consultation of SMEs on EU regulation
Having a business friendly environment is also an important part of the mix. Regulating at EU level rather than twenty seven different ways at national level has proven to be an effective way of creating new opportunities.
The Commission has adopted a communication to address the Top ten most burdensome pieces of EU legislation, as identified by SMEs. The communication details the action taken or to be taken to address each of them. For each of the pieces of legislation identified by SMEs, the Commission has already reviewed the concerns expressed, taken action where this can be done by the Commission or made proposals to the co-legislators to ease the burden on SMEs. For example, in December 2011, the Commission proposed a revision of the public procurement regime which will have direct impact of the access of SMEs to public procurement. In February 2013, the Commission proposed to replace the general Product safety directive by a regulation on consumer product safety which includes a simpler set of common requirements for companies.
This is part of our on-going work to review and ensure that the entire "acquis communautaire" is fit for purpose (the 'REFIT' programme).
The European Council will endorse the Commission's country specific recommendations to guide Member States budgetary and economic policies over the course of the next year. It will also set out the next steps to reinforce the architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union. The four contributions of the Commission provide the menu for immediate action to get the economy growing again. They will help to restore confidence so that companies invest and hire and banks and other investors resume normal lending. They demonstrate that collective action at the EU level will have a bigger impact than isolated individual measures nationally. President Barroso will now send these contributions to all members of the European Council and to the European Parliament.