Economic reforms can’t stand apart from socially sustainable actions – Sant

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Economic reforms can't stand apart from socially sustainable actions - SantMEP Alfred Sant said that economic reforms presented by the European Commission cannot stand apart from socially sustainable actions.

Dr. Sant was interviewed by EuroparlTV in Brussels after the European Parliament approved the European Commission’s push to accelerate structural and fiscal demanded by the EU of each member state.

The resolution calls for more involvement of national parliaments in the European Semester talks and more national ownership of the country-specific recommendations. “This is the start of a new situation where we insist more on social aspects, and that economic reforms can’t stand apart from socially sustainable actions,” said Alfred Sant.

TV Stations and online journals specialising on the European Parliament affairs singled out Dr. Sant’s comments at the European Parliament when he said that structural reforms proposed by the European Commission should not erode the European Social model.

Dr Sant was ‘Shadow’ rapporteur on behalf of the S&D on the report of the committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs headed by Dariusz Rosati (EPP) who presented this resolution which was approved by the EP.

The circus performer on a high rope

The online journal singled out Dr. Sant’s intervention at the European Parliament. “Structural reforms are necessary, but they should not mean an erosion of the European social model,” said Alfred Sant, who argued in favour of structural reforms, such as the elimination of monopolies, freer access to the provision of services, curtailment and digitalisation of government bureaucracy, incentivising those who produce, streamlining public procurement practices, and encouraging public-private partnerships.

The journal said that some MEPs, including Malta’s Socialist MEP, questioned whether the Country-Specific Recommendations (CSR) are properly designed to satisfy eurozone or national priorities.

“I am not too surprised that so many CSRs are ignored by national parliaments and governments. In the absence of a central treasury to regulate transfers between centre and periphery, much of the exercise that we are carrying out could be compared to that of a circus performer on a high rope juggling with nineteen balls. Of course in order to succeed, even such a juggling operation needs commitment, discipline and a high level of competence.” Alfred Sant told the European Parliament.

Up to now, Member States have been slow to implement the Country-Specific Recommendations (CSR).

Dariusz Rosati told the European Parliament that “The European Semester must be taken more seriously by Member States. The low implementation rate is appalling. Whether they are big or small, all Member States should respect the Stability and Growth Pact. They can use the existing flexibility clause, but they must stick to the rules.”

Alfred Sant argued that rightly much emphasis is being placed on the flexibility that is presently being read into SGP rules. “The too rigid application of these rules has been counterproductive. Let us hope that flexibility will be applied equally and fairly to all economies, not just the bigger ones.” Sant told the EP.

Euroactiv said that only 9% of the CSRs were fully implemented in 2013, and in 2014, the numbers were even lower. The 28-country bloc fully or substantially implemented only 12 out of the 157 recommendations, or about 7.5% received in 2014.

Even though all Member States are expected to grow in 2015, recovery is still fragile, and the eurozone is facing record unemployment levels of almost 12%, with rising inequality and poverty in Europe.

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