The report seeks to enhance the importance of taking into account the social impact of economic policy coordination such as through supporting social indicators and calling for the establishment of a Eurogroup of employment and social affairs ministers, to equal the current Eurogroup. As in reports in previous years, the report reiterates the need to strengthening social dialogue and democratic legitimacy.
In the debate which preceded the vote, Jean Lambert MEP (Greens, UK), who co-organised January’s event, called for civil society and trade union involvement in economic policy coordination to be more structurally embedded at European and national level. Ms. Lambert also called more involvement of the European Parliament to increase the democratic credentials of the European Semester.
Chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, Pervenche Berès, took to the floow to pressure the Council to help democracy. With Member State governments taking a so-called intergovernmental approach (which sidelines the European Parliament in decision-making), democracy is being harmed according to the Chair. Ms. Beres welcomed social indicators to be used alongside economic indicators, but stressed the need for these to be used to properly inform policies, and not just in place for ‘show’.
Dimitris Kourkoulas, the Greek Minister responsible for European Affairs, spoke during the debate for the Presidency of the Council of the EU. Mr Kourkoulas expressed his wish that MEPs take the European Semester to the forefront of their electoral campaigns. For the Greek Minister, it is important that citizens understand their direct stake in the policies being enacted at European level.
The vote coincides with the European Commission’s publication of its winter economic forecast (Winter 2014 forecast: Recovery gaining ground) for 2013-2014-2015 covering Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public budget deficits and debt.
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