Within about a year, from 22 until 25 of May 2014, elections will be held for the European Parliament (EP). In the 27member states of the European Union 754 Members of Parliament (MP’s) will be elected. The MP’s in the European Parliament are like in all other parliaments in the world organized in political party groupings. The European People’s Party (dominated by Christian Democratic oriented parties) is with 270 MP's the biggest one in the EP (36%). The other two classical political movements are represented by the Socialist Grouping having 191 MP’s (25%) and the Liberal Grouping having 85 MP’s (11%). With the elections in sight it is time to start to look to the political programs of the political party groupings in the European Parliament. We start with the EPP, being the biggest fraction in the European Parliament.
NO MORE PUBLIC SPENDING
The EPP believes that more public spending is not the answer on the actual financial and economic crisis. The EPP does not believe that a further exacerbation of debt and deficit levels is the right way to create growth in Europe and to emerge from the crisis. While recent years have shown that more spending is not the answer, it also has become evident that EU members that took rapid and strong action to reform and reshape public expenditure have seen strong economic growth in the last couple of years. The decline in competitiveness and productivity was one of the causes of the crisis in Europe. The EU economies can only compete in a globalised world if they are strong.
SMART PUBLIC INVESTMENTS
Public investments should first and foremost focus on growth-generating areas, such as education, research and innovation. Transforming the European economy into a worldwide competitive knowledge economy is one of the most important challenges for the European Union in the years to come. Know-how is central to economic growth and job creation, therefore, the best conditions must be created for transforming our society into a knowledge society. Research and innovation, especially centres of excellence, are key elements in this respect. High-quality education, as well as increased mobility for students and researchers, are crucial for improving the competitiveness of the European economy. Public funding for R&D will trigger private investment in research and innovation and make Europe a global hub for the world’s best researchers.
Since the start of the crisis the level of private investments in the EU has fallen with 350 billion a year. Creating the right conditions to get these investments back is one of the most important challenges, says the EPP. Structural reforms are pivotal to improving the conditions for investment, to attracting private capital and to creating the right conditions for economic growth.
LABOUR MARKET REFORMS
The EPP believes that labour markets need to be reformed in order to promote a greater number of people working more and at an older age. High levels of unemployment, and particularly youth unemployment, are a danger for social cohesion and for European integration. An inclusive and active employment policy is needed, better education and better qualifications for the European citizens as well as modern, life-long learning concepts in order to provide access to high-quality jobs. Labour market mobility should be encouraged to allow all citizens to benefit from the largest economy in the world. Remaining legal barriers that hinder labour mobility across all EU Member States must be removed. The EPP wants a better European coordination to provide relevant training to unemployed people, not least to benefit from labour mobility in Europe.
A STRONG EURO WITH A STRONG EU GOVERNANCE
Profound economic reforms at national level are needed, while reforming economic governance at European level. The EU needs strong governance to protect the stability of the European economy. The euro needs to support the Single Market and help the EU maximize the benefits of being the biggest economy in the world. The EU needs strong rules, and these rules have to be respected. The European Commission shall make full use of its powers to ensure that EU countries reform and respect already agreed rules to reduce debt and deficits. The Commission needs effective tools to sanction those Member States that do not fulfil their obligations.
EUROPEAN BANKING UNION FOR HEALTHY BANKS
A first set of measures to ensure a stable banking sector includes the implementation of the single rule book, i.e. bank capital rules, the recovery and resolution framework, a rule for national deposit guarantees schemes and a common effective supervision mechanism. The EPP supports the creation of a European Banking Union ensuring a common system for supervision and therefore more stable financial markets.