European Commission: Member states must focus on inclusive growth

23 May 17

The European Commission has called on member states to pursue structural reforms, boost investment and strengthen public finances.

A key measure is giving priority to reforms that can make growth more inclusive and reinvigorate productivity, in a series of country-specific recommendations released yesterday.

The country-specific recommendations outline how EU countries should use economic policy over the next year to 18 months, following a sixth consecutive year of growth in the EU economy.

Marianne Thyssen, commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, said: "This year addressing inequality is firmly at the heart of our assessment.

“We have turned the page of the crisis: the next chapter is social.

“With the economy moving forward, we need to restore opportunities for those left behind and keep pace with changing skills needs by investing in high quality education and training.”

The commission also wants members to strengthen the fundamentals of their economies by implementing the common economic and social priorities of boosting investment, pursuing structural reforms and ensuring responsible fiscal policies.

The next step is for member states in the council to endorse the proposed approach and adopt the commission's country-specific recommendations.

Ministers are expected to discuss the recommendations ahead of their endorsement by EU heads of state and government.

Member states must then implement the recommendations through their national economic and budgetary policies in 2017-2018.

Growth rates in both the EU and the euro area were nearly 2% in 2016, public finances are improving and employment is at a record of nearly 233m people.

Unemployment is at its lowest since 2009 and investments exceed pre-crisis levels in some member states – also helped by the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called Juncker Plan.

But slow productivity growth and the legacies of the crisis, including disparities within and across countries, continue to weigh on the economy, as does uncertainty stemming mostly from external factors.

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