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EU details socio-economic challenges ahead

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China’s coronavirus outbreak will affect the EU economy — it just isn’t clear by how much.

Such was the warning from Commission economic chief Paolo Gentiloni after he unveiled Wednesday’s European Semester, a regular health check on the bloc’s national economies, POLITICO reports.

The Commission has today published country reports analysing each Member State’s key socio-economic challenges.

The analysis in the country reports reflects the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, presented in December 2019, focusing on competitive sustainability with the aim to build an economy that works for people and the planet. Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and performance on its accompanying social scoreboard is also assessed for each Member State. The country reports focus on four dimensions: environmental sustainability, productivity gains, fairness and macroeconomic stability.

In its updated economic forecast for the euro currency area,  the Commission predicted steady growth at 1.2 percent this year and next — unchanged from its November version.

“The outlook for Europe’s economy is for stable, albeit subdued growth over the coming two years,” the Commission’s economic chief, Paolo Gentiloni, said in a statement. “As for the coronavirus, it is too soon to evaluate the extent of its negative economic impact.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, said: “The good news is that imbalances in the EU are receding. Member States should build on this positive trend. They must continue reforms to make our economy future-proof. They need to bring down debt, boost productivity and make the right investments to achieve a fair transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy.  We’re today also providing a dedicated analysis of environmental sustainability challenges to help Member States move towards a climate-neutral economy.”

Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said:“Employment is at a record high in Europe, but inequalities persist. We need to step up our fight for more equality by strengthening the social dimension of the European Semester and fully implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights, by, among others, proposing a framework for fair minimum wages, reinforcing the skills agenda and revamping the youth guarantee. This is a prerequisite for a successful green and digital transition that leaves no one behind.”

Paolo Gentiloni Commissioner for Economy, said: “Today, we are taking the first step towards putting sustainability at the heart of EU economic policy and action. The 2020 country reports track progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and include a dedicated section on environmental sustainability. This goes hand in hand with the European Semester’s focus on economic and social issues and the correction of macroeconomic imbalances. The reduction of public and private debt levels is proceeding at an uneven pace – and while current account deficits have for the most part been corrected, large surpluses remain a concern.”

The Council is expected to discuss the country reports together with the results of the in-depth reviews. The Commission will discuss the summary findings of the country reports with the European Parliament. In the coming months, the Commission will engage with Member States to seek the views of national parliaments, governments, social partners and other stakeholders on the analysis and conclusions of the country reports.

In April, Member States are expected to present their National Reform Programmes, detailing structural reform priorities, and their Stability Programmes (for euro area countries) or Convergence Programmes (for non-euro area countries), setting out their multi-annual fiscal strategies.

The Commission will present its proposals for a new set of Country-Specific Recommendations in spring 2020.

Via European Commission / POLITICO / 

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