Europe must invest to get out of the crisis
Maria João Rodrigues, vice-president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, responded to the growth forecasts published by the European Commission today:
"The Commission has presented a more pessimistic forecast than expected today. After seven years of crisis, the eurozone is once more on the brink of recession and faces the risk of a lengthy period of weak growth and mass unemployment. This depressing situation demands a radical change in economic policy – Europe must definitively turn the page on austerity.
"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.
"The eurozone member states must make use of all the flexibility available for investment, while continuing to reduce public deficits. In particular, countries with largest current accounts must contribute to stimulating aggregate demand in Europe. Positive structural reforms to promote growth must be put in place at national level. It is a question of improving the quality of education and professional training to tackle unemployment, boosting access to nurseries and childcare, encouraging research and innovation, and bringing in fiscal reforms that guarantee more social justice and greater economic efficiency, as well as fostering a transition to a smarter and greener European economy. The EU's budget must play a full role in stimulating investment and contributing to the reindustrialisation of Europe.
"The European Union must also act to respond to the social crisis we face, by taking action to fight poverty and social exclusion.
"To be effective, this move towards investment, growth and employment must be built into the long-term political vision for Europe's economy. We also expect the European Commission to ensure its investment plan fits into a new strategy for sustainable development and our group will take an active part in defining this strategy in the coming months."