The EU Commission today presented its proposals for coordinated action by the member states with the aim of reviving the economy.
In Berlin today (26 November), Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the proposals as a good foundation for his initiative for a European Pact for the Future of Employment.
"In view of the difficult economic situation, we must do all we can to save or create jobs – at national level and also within Europe. That is why I proposed the European Pact for the Future of Employment. Many of the proposals presented today by the Commission go in the right direction.
One thing is clear – action is needed. We need a strong impetus to come from Europe. Only if we do the right thing now will Europe emerge strengthened from the crisis."
At the forthcoming consultations in Brussels we will urge that due regard be paid to the "jobs first" principle. We must furthermore speed up investment for the future in areas such as energy and broadband infrastructure.
The Commission's proposals contain a combination of coordinated national and European measures. The action taken should be swift and well-targeted. Its aim is to both boost demand in the short term and promote investment to safeguard jobs and Europe's competitiveness.
More specifically, the Commission has proposed:
A coordinated fiscal stimulus
The EU states should pledge to introduce national budgetary stimulus packages. Together with measures at European level, the total package would amount to around 200 billion euro (approximately 1.5% of the EU's GDP) for the years 2009 and 2010.
A European employment initiative should be launched. In order to support employment, more money should be made available from the European Social Fund for training and reintegrating workers into the labour market; these resources should be better targeted. The Globalization Adjustment Fund should also be broadened in order to cushion the impact of closures caused by globalization.
Supporting small businesses
The loan facilities of the European Investment Bank (EIB) for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) should be extended by some 15 billion euro in 2009 and 2010, and administrative burdens on small businesses reduced.
Investment in the future
Increased use should be made of the European structural funds for trans-European energy and telecommunications projects (in particular broadband internet access), the EIB's activities in the fields of climate change, energy security and infrastructure should be enhanced by up to 10 billion euro per year, and a "2020 fund for energy, climate change and infrastructure" launched.
Research and development for a sustainable economy
A "European green cars" initiative should be launched to promote energy-efficient engines, a "European energy-efficient buildings" initiative should be started and a "factories of the future initiative" produced to increase the use of the enabling technologies of the future in manufacturing.