Alfred Sant’s report on EU’s economic priorities approved
A report on the EU’s economic priorities for 2017 presented by Maltese MEP Alfred Sant was adopted by the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament.
The report was prepared against a backdrop of low domestic investments, a lower than expected growth forecast, economic uncertainty deriving inter alia from the UK-referendum and troubled relations with Russia and high youth unemployment.
The Report invites the European Commission to give priority to measures that reduce the obstacles to greater investment flows, especially in the fields of energy, transport, communications and the digital economy.
The Report was discussed and voted in Committee with 39 votes in favour, 14 against and four abstentions.
The Report also fully supports attempts to ensure greater national ownership in the formulation and implementation of country specific recommendations. To further encourage this, CSRs should be clearly defined around a limited number of EU priorities and with close involvement of national parliaments and regional and local authorities.
The report calls on the member states to ensure a proper democratic scrutiny of their National Reform Programmes in their national parliaments. The Report also deplores that the objective of reducing poverty in the EU will not be met.
As Rapporteur, Dr Sant opened and closed the debate.
“The theme of investment, or its lack, within the overall thrust of the CSRs is central to the ongoing dilemma faced by eurozone economies and the rest of the EU. It is quite likely central to the major capitalist economies. Investment dearth is a main reason why European growth rates have remained unimpressive.
“So it is in the interest of us all to reflect on this problem and to focus on how we can reverse the reluctance to invest. This investment dearth does not relate only to the eurozone. It also relates to the capitalist economy model and the global capitalist economy as a whole, especially the US,” Dr Sant told ECON.
Dr Sant said that the implementation of CSRs, not least where investment initiatives are concerned, is highly dependent on subnational and regional authorities. This is so to a greater extent than I believed when setting out to prepare the present draft.
As now tabled, it recognises the role of subnational and regional authorities in the implementation of CSRs. The greater involvement of these authorities could indeed hopefully help bridge the ownership and implementation gap between the recommendations as set in Brussels, and the measures undertaken in national capitals to satisfy the requirements of the European semester.
The report will now be submitted for discussion and approval at the Plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “EU citizens want to have access to more films, songs, books, and TV channels. Modernising EU rules to give consumers more choice of content reflects the aspirations of citizens and a must in the internet age. This is precisely what I will be pushing for as Rapporteur.”
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia from the EPP Group made these remarks after being appointed Rapporteur by the Committee on Legal Affairs in the European Parliament.
Comodini Cachia remarked that such reform will not only make a much wider catalogue of content accessible to consumers but also make it easier for students, teachers and schools to access digital material, support researchers in public mission projects in their work and improve the preservation of cultural heritage.
Moreover, the reform will aim to facilitate access to published work for persons who are blind or visually impaired to access books and other content in formats that are accessible to them.
Comodini Cachia emphasised that more investment in the creative and cultural industries was needed. She reiterated that “without creators, consumers cannot have access to content and thus their work must be recognised and valued.”
Over the next weeks Comodini Cachia will continue to meet stakeholders in Malta and Brussels to ensure that the reform works in digital lifestyles. She encouraged stakeholders to come forward with their proposals.
Therese Comodini Cachia has extensive experience in the sector and has already served as EPP Group rapporteur on relevant EU directives. The reform of the sector is a much expected step as current EU rules date back to 2001 and do not reflect the realities of the internet era and the rapidly-changing behaviour of viewers online.