Responding to the publication of the European Commission’s European Semester Autumn Package, ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr said:
“The GDP of a country is a poor indicator of wellbeing because wealth so often doesn’t trickle down. The ‘beyond GDP’ agenda announced by Commissioner Gentiloni today is an important step towards an economy that puts people before profit.
“The Commission is right to maintain its advice to member states to keep investing in the recovery. However, that investment could be put at risk if the escape clause from the Stability and Growth Pact is ended before a reform of the EU’s inherently pro-austerity budget rules. The best way to reduce public debt is through sustained growth.
“That is particularly vital in the context of the transitions to a green and digital economy, which can only be achieved in a socially fair way through massive public investment which ensures quality jobs and better social protection are put in place for communities which will have to change.
“A social imbalance procedure, which should ensure social objectives are given the same weight as fiscal targets, is crucial if Europe is to truly move beyond GDP and it is positive to see it referenced in the Joint Employment Report. The Commission has undermined this though in its comments about spending in Italy, Latvia and Lithuania given the high levels of poverty in those countries which were exacerbated by the Commission’s own pro-austerity reforms following the crisis in 2008.”