The recently issued Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2014 setting out the broad EU economic priorities for the coming year focuses on austerity and structural reform as an answer to the crisis. The European Trade Union Federations (ETUFs) declare in a joint statement the European Commission is unwilling and unable to meet the economic and social challenges faced by an EU in crisis.
The AGS 2014 recommends shifting taxes from labour to consumption, which would consequently reduce employees’ purchasing power, disproportionately affect low-income households and put social security systems under severe pressure. The Commission also insists on liberalising the markets for goods and services as a remedy to stimulate economic growth, while past experiences with its implementation shows it opens up legal grey areas encouraging social dumping, rogue cross-border competition and creation of oligopolies.
The ETUFs see in the AGS 2014 a continuation of the very economic strategies that have prolonged the crisis. Eduardo Chagas, ETF General Secretary: “The priorities identified for 2014 confirm the Commission’s inability to rethink their approach and to develop long-term plans to tackle the European crisis and to offer perspectives for the European citizens who face unemployment rates at record heights. Only large-scale and resource-efficient investment programmes in for example infrastructure, flanked by policies that ensure robust internal demand for European goods and services can pull the EU economy out of stagnation.”
The joint ETUFs statement concludes with expressing its support for the ETUC proposal for a Confederation’s “Plan for Investment, Sustainable Growth and Quality Jobs”, which outlines how Europe can lift itself out of crisis by investing in sustainable growth and jobs through a bold recovery strategy.