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Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
European Semester plenary debate
Strasbourg, 13 June 2012
Mr President, Honourable Members,
Let me first thank you for this opportunity to discuss the first European Semester after the entry into force of the six pack legislation.
The Commission adopted on 30 May its most important package of economic policy proposals of the year. We have put forward country-specific recommendations for the reforms that are needed to deliver stability, growth and jobs in the 27 Member States.
Member States have taken last year's recommendations seriously. Efforts have been made to implement them, but progress is still very uneven between member states, and more needs to be done.
To supplement the national action, the European level must play its part. The Commission has put on the table concrete proposals to enhance sustainable growth, some of them already for several months. They are about creating competitive services and energy markets, a digital single market, investing in infrastructure, promoting research and education, and getting better access to fast-growing markets around the world.
Such growth-enhancing structural policies must be supported by increased investment. We need more cross-border and community investment in renewable energy and green growth, in transports and communication infrastructure, as well as in research and innovation.
To this end, we have proposed an increase of the EIB lending capacity. We also welcome the recent agreement on our project bonds proposal to unlock up to €4.6 billion in a pilot phase. To support growth, we also need a European budget that has the magnitude and the means to invest for the future. In the talks on the next multiannual financial framework, I count on the full support of this House.
At the same time, with last week's proposal on bank resolution, the EU is the first instance in the world that has fully delivered on its G20 commitments to strengthen regulation and supervision of the banking sector. This is a very important signal ahead of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, where one may expect other Leaders to be tempted to put the blame for the crisis only on Europe's shoulders.
And as we said on 30 May, we are preparing further steps towards a full economic union to complete our monetary union, including through a financial union. The main building blocks towards a financial union should include such common elements as a single rulebook, integrated financial supervision, a common resolution authority and a single deposit insurance scheme. All these common and integrated elements should be part of the same overall framework, intended for the 27 Member States, while allowing stronger requirements for the euro area as necessary.
The basic principle is clear: the sharing of risk in the guarantee scheme calls for an integrated, strong supervision of the banking sector. There can be no further mutualisation of economic risk without deeper integration of decision-making. To move further in mutualisation, it is necessary to strengthen our stability culture. This basic principle should guide the prospective construction of both financial and fiscal union.
Mr President, Honourable Members,
The Commission supports a strong involvement of the European Parliament in the strengthened European Semester.
With the entry into force of the six-pack, multilateral surveillance in the context of the European Semester has changed considerably. I would like to quote the new "Economic dialogue" provision contained in the six-pack: "The Council is expected to, as a general rule, follow the recommendations and proposals of the Commission or explain its position publicly". This means that the country-specific recommendations are no longer bilaterally negotiable with the Commission. If we want to be serious about addressing negative spill overs, the country-specific recommendations cannot be considered as only being of a national concern. They reflect a shared responsibility.
In this context I would also like thank the European Parliament, more specifically the ECON-committee, for organising the opportunity to have a dialogue about the European Semester on Monday this week. The Commission stands ready to actively participate in any discussion you will have on the outcome of this year's European Semester.
I trust that the Parliament will fully engage in the multilateral surveillance of economic policies in the EU and will be able to ensure that country-specific guidance will be both relevant and ambitious.