MEPs call for EU investment strategy to 'kick start' economic growth
MEPs have called for the EU to invest its way out of the crisis following the release by the European commission of a more negative than expected growth forecast.
The commission's autumn forecast projects weaker than expected economic growth for the remainder of this year in both the EU and the eurozone. GDP growth is expected to reach 1.3 per cent in the EU and 0.8 per cent in the euro area for 2014 as a whole.
Jyrki Katainen, the commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, announced, "The economic and employment situation is not improving fast enough. The European commission is committed to use all available tools and resources to deliver more jobs and growth in Europe.
"We will put forward a €300bn investment plan to kick-start and sustain economic recovery. Accelerating investment is the linchpin of economic recovery."
Maria João Rodrigues, vice-president of the S&D group in parliament, said it was a "depressing situation" that following seven years of crisis; the eurozone was "once more on the brink of recession".
She called for a "radical change" in approach and said that the EU "must definitively turn the page on austerity".
Rodriguez added, "We are calling for the urgent implementation of a vast investment programme promised by the commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. This investment plan must be up to the challenges of tackling the structural problems behind this continued weak growth."
In conclusion, she noted that the social effects of the crisis should not be overlooked. She called on the commission to devise a "long-term political vision for Europe's economy" and said the S&D group will play an active role in defining such a strategy.
"The investment gap in the eurozone alone now stands at around €800bn a year compared with pre-crisis levels"
Fabio De Masi, a GUE/NGL member of parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, criticised the commission's economic predictions, noting that this was just one of many occasions that economic forecasts have been revised downwards and that the economy "doesn't obey [the commission's] wishful thinking".
He also expressed a lack of confidence in "the faulty banking union" and asked how growth can be foreseen when "austerity kills credit demand and the real economy".
De Masi stressed, "The investment gap in the eurozone alone now stands at around €800bn a year compared with pre-crisis levels. Only strong public investment will kick start the economy […]".
Finally, he said, "We don't have a funding problem but a fair taxation problem. Europe needs an EU-wide coordinated wealth levy for millionaires and ECB funding of public investment."
The commission's forecast also predicted economic growth would remain slow in 2015 but accelerate in 2016 and that all EU countries are set to see some level of growth in the next two years.
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