Earlier today, Eurodiaconia published its assessment of the 2019 recommendations on the economic policy of the Euro area, a key document of the “Autumn Package” recently released by the European Commission. Our assessment highlights a lack of focus on social inclusion and social challenges.
The Commission document, which sets out recommendations for the 19 countries of the euro area and gives directions for the rest of the European Semester cycle and for the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), was published on 21 November 2018 within the Autumn Package. Ahead of the publication, Eurodiaconia drew out its priorities for the 2019 cycle in October 2018 – some of which were reflected in the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) – and then sent its comments on the Key Messages of the draft Joint Employment Report – another important document of the Autumn package.
With this latest position paper, Eurodiaconia wishes to react to the remaining key document of the package, namely the Euro Area recommendations, proposed as a draft by the Commission on last November and approved by the ECOFIN Council yesterday. Eurodiaconia’s assessment is that the 2019 euro area recommendations do not reflect the social ambitions expressed in the AGS. This highlights the need to improve consistency in the various European Semester documents. This is also particularly concerning considering the lack of inclusive economic growth and the depth of inequalities in Europe. Contrary to last year’s euro area recommendations, this year’s do not reflect social inclusion among their priorities and keep a narrow focus on economic and fiscal issues.
There is however a welcomed emphasis on quality employment in recommendation number 3 which is in line with the above-mentioned key priorities put forward by Eurodiaconia last October. Eurodiaconia also welcomes the mention of the European Pillar of Social Rights’ principles to foster equal opportunities, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion in the recitals. However, these aspects remain too marginal compared to the overall emphasis on economic and fiscal stability and are very narrowly focused on employment.
In fact, Eurodiaconia considers that a key element missing from the euro area recommendations is the need to foster social investments. It is urgent to incentivise social investments in Europe considering that investments still lag behind pre-crisis levels and that the amount of investment in education, health-care and housing is estimated to have fallen below the required level to maintain human capital and skills.
To read the full analysis, please have a look at Eurodiaconia paper.
To know more about the Autumn Package and its various documents published on 21 November 2018, please visit the European Commission’s website.
To read the version of the Euro area recommendations approved by ECOFIN on 22 January 2019, please visit the Council of the EU website.