After winning the European Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Juncker laid down his ten policy areas to be tackled under his Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change for a better and stronger European Union. His passion to tackle job creation and to improve Member States economies led him to the following:
1. A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment
His first priority as Commission President will be to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness and to stimulate investment for the purpose of job creation. He intends to present, within the first three months of his mandate and in the context of the Europe 2020 review, an ambitious Jobs, Growth and Investment Package.
“I do not believe that we can build sustainable growth on ever-growing mountains of debt this is the lesson learnt in the crisis that we must now heed. I also know well that it is mainly companies that create jobs, not governments or EU institutions.”
However, he believes that they can make much better use of the common EU budget and of the European Investment Bank (EIB). They must make use of these public funds available at Union level to stimulate private investment in the real economy.
They need smarter investment, more focus, less regulation and more flexibility when it comes to the use of these public funds. In his view, this should allow them to mobilise up to €300 billion in additional public and private investment in the real economy over the next three years.
For this, the investment environment has to be improved and fund absorption needs
to be strengthened. The preparation of projects by the EIB and the Commission should be intensified and expanded. New, sustainable and job-creating projects that will help restore Europe’s competitiveness need to be identified and promoted.
To make real projects happen, EU have to develop more effective financial
instruments, including in the form of loans or guarantees with greater risk capacity. A further increase in the EIB’s capital should be considered.
2. A Connected Digital Single Market
President Jean-Claude Juncker believes that they must make much better use of the great opportunities offered by digital technologies, which know no borders. To do so, they need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in the application of competition law.
If they do this, they can ensure that European citizens will soon be able to use their mobile phones across Europe without having to pay roaming charges. They can ensure that consumers can access services, music, movies and sports events on their electronic devices wherever they are in Europe and regardless of borders.
EU can also create a fair level playing field where all companies offering their goods or services in the European Union are subject to the same data protection and consumer rules, regardless of where their server is based. By creating a connected digital single market, they can generate up to €250 billion of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, notably for younger job-seekers, and a vibrant knowledge-based society.
To achieve this, Juncker intends to take, within the first six months of his mandate, ambitious legislative steps towards a connected digital single market, notably by swiftly concluding negotiations on common European data protection rules; by adding more ambition to the ongoing reform of our telecoms rules; by modernising copyright rules in the light of the digital revolution and changed consumer behaviour; and by modernising and simplifying consumer rules for online and digital purchases.
This should go hand-in-hand with efforts to boost digital skills and learning across society and to facilitate the creation of innovative start-ups. Enhancing the use of digital technologies and online services should become a horizontal policy, covering all sectors of the economy and of the public sector.
3. A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy
Current geopolitical events have forcefully reminded European that Europe relies too heavily on fuel and gas imports. Therefore President Juncker wants to reform and re-organise Europe’s energy policy into a new European Energy Union. They need to pool their resources, combine theirr infrastructures and unite their negotiating power vis-à-vis third countries.
They need to diversify their energy sources, and reduce the high energy dependency of several of their Member States. President Juncker wants to keep their European energy market open to their neighbours. However, if the price for energy from the East becomes too expensive, either in commercial or in political terms, Europe should be able to switch very swiftly to other supply channels. “We need to be able to reverse energy flows when necessary.”
EU need to strengthen the share of renewable energies on the continent. This is not only a matter of a responsible climate change policy. It is, at the same time, an industrial policy imperative if they still want to have affordable energy at their disposal in the medium term. He strongly believes in the potential of green growth. and want Europe’s Energy Union to become the world number one in renewable energies.
“I would also like to significantly enhance energy efficiency beyond the 2020 objective, notably when it comes to buildings, and I am in favour of an ambitious, binding target to this end that continues the current energy efficiency pathway. I want the European Union to lead the fight against global warming ahead of the United Nations Paris meeting in 2015 and beyond.”
4. A Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base
President Juncker says the internal market is Europe’s best asset in times of increasing globalisation. So he therefore wants the next Commission to build on the strength of a single market and to fully exploit its potential in all its dimensions. They need to complete the internal market in products and services and make it the launch pad for their companies and industry to thrive in the global economy, and also when it comes to agricultural products.
He firmly believes that they need to maintain and reinforce a strong and high-performing industrial base for our internal market, as it would be naïve to believe that growth in Europe could be built on the basis of services alone. “We need to bring industry’s weight in the EU’s GDP back to 20% by 2020, from less than 16% today.”
This should ensure that Europe maintains its global leadership in strategic sectors with high-value jobs such as the automotive, aeronautics, engineering, space, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries. To achieve this, EU need to stimulate investment in new technologies, improve the business environment, ease access to markets and to finance, particularly for SMEs, and ensure that workers have the skills industry needs.
A continuing priority for EU is to finish fixing the problems of their banking sector and to boost private investment. He has been a strong supporter of the development of stricter controls on banks through a Single Supervisory Mechanism and a Single Resolution Mechanism with a Single Resolution Fund that will be built up progressively. “My Commission will be active and vigilant in ensuring that we implement the new supervisory and resolution rules fully, making European banks more robust so that they can get back to lending to the real economy.”
5. A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union
Over the next five years, EU wants to continue with the reform of their Economic and Monetary Union to preserve the stability of our single currency and to enhance the convergence of economic, fiscal and labour market policies between the Member States that share the single currency. Juncker says he will do this on the basis of the “Four Presidents Reports” and the Commission’s Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, and always with Europe’s social dimension in mind.
The crisis has only been paused he said. EU must make use of this pause to consolidate and complement the unprecedented measures they have taken during the crisis, simplify them and make them more socially legitimate. The stability of our single currency and the solidity of public finances are as important to the EU as social fairness in implementing necessary structural reforms.
President Juncker wants to launch legislative and non-legislative initiatives to deepen EU’s Economic and Monetary Union during the first year of his mandate. These would include a stability-oriented review of the “six-pack” and the “two-pack legislation” as foreseen in this legislation; proposals to encourage further structural reforms, if necessary through additional financial incentives and a targeted fiscal capacity at Euro zone level; and a proposal for a more efficient external representation of our Economic and Monetary Union.
To Be Contd.
By Austin Thomas
Thursday September 25, 2014