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12 February 2013

Debate with President Barroso on the new budget deal at the EESC plenary

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will hold its next plenary session on 13 and 14 February. The session will include a debate with President Barroso on the recent 2014-2020 budget agreement on 13 February as well as a presentation of the Irish Presidency with the Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton, and a debate with ECB Vice-President Vítor Constâncio on EU governance and banking situation on 14 February.

The EESC plenary session will be webstreamed online:

Mr Barroso's presence at the plenary session will be an opportunity to discuss the outcome of the summit on the EU's next seven-year budget and progress in implementing the Europe 2020 strategy. Concerned with mounting youth unemployment, EESC members are also likely to question Mr Barroso about the Commission's recent proposal on the youth guarantee scheme, whereby under-25s would be offered a guarantee of work, training or full-time education.

Opinions to be discussed and voted on at the plenary session include:

Not losing sight of European associations and NGOs

In its upcoming opinion on the statute and funding for European political parties and foundations, the EESC is likely to caution against unduly privileging Europarties and foundations at the expense of European NGOs and associations. The opinion, drawn up by Henri Malosse, Employers' Group president in cooperation with Georgios Dassis and Luca Jahier, presidents of the Workers' Group and Various Interests Group respectively, will insist on ensuring adequate support for European civil society organisations as a means of bringing about a Europe which is genuinely of the people and for the people. The opinion is likely to criticise the European Commission's proposal to make funding dependent on a European political party having at least one MEP. It will instead propose the threshold of 1 million votes in European elections as an essential condition for funding.

European energy market: European in name only

The EU energy market continues to be European in name only and, in practice, is more of a hotchpotch of national practices, markets and providers – such is likely to be the EESC's stance in its opinion on the European Commission's plan to complete the internal energy market by 2014. The EU civil society body is expected to call for consumers to be placed at the heart of EU energy policy, enabling them to make the most of a new, smarter energy market.

Economic policies for Member States in the eurozone

The opinion is expected to welcome the establishment of general economic policy guidelines for the countries in the eurozone and the formulation of recommendations tailored to each country. However, the Committee considers that the current macroeconomic policy mix is unbalanced, since it overlooks the significance of demand and fails to provide a credible programme to reduce government debt and unemployment. Stricter regulation of financial markets should be accompanied by a general re-think not only of expenditure, but also of tax systems, whereas current policies should capitalise more on the fact that the negative income and employment multipliers of revenue-related measures are generally more limited than those of spending cuts.

Large retail sector

A few large retailers control most of the EU market and are therefore able to impose their own terms. As a consequence, frequent abuse of buyer power leads to breaches of contract with suppliers, forced payments, unjustified reductions in the invoice and other negative effects. In such cases, the EESC will call for a binding legal text to be drawn up urgently, and for undistorted competition to be encouraged.

Gender and business

85% of non-executive board members and 91% of executive board members of European companies are men. During its February plenary session, the EESC will adopt its position in response to a draft directive presented by the Commission to tackle this issue. The EESC will stress its support for this initiative and put forward a number of proposals that would help to achieve and exceed the target of 40% women by 2020.

For more information, please contact:

Karin Füssl, Head of the Press Unit


Tel.: +32 2 546 8722

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