PES Fair Growth Conference to take place in Brussels on 26 March
"We must step up our demands and accelerate change in Europe", says PES President The Party of European Socialists (PES) hosted on the 26 March a high-level conference on investment and growth. The event, titled PES Fair Growth Conference, took place with the participation of PES President Sergei Stanishev, the Luxembourgish Minister for Labour, Employment, Social and Solidarity Economy Nicolas Schmit and PS Belgium Vice-president and Leader of the Group in the Chamber of Representatives Laurette Onkelinx, among others.
Nicolas Schmit underlined that; "Investment is key to promote fair and sustainable growth through an improvement of productivity. The Commission program might be a first step, a kind of trigger, but it will not be able to relaunch investment in Europe which has dramatically fallen". He added: "If we want the investment strategy to be successful we have to get our macroeconomic and fiscal policies right. It would be a mistake to limit our economic discussion to competitiveness and fiscal deficits. Investment in infrastructure is important: digital networks, but also roads, bridges and other public infrastructures. Also, fair growth cannot be achieved without promoting innovation, R & D, education and skills. This is at the heart of a fair growth strategy".
One of the highlights of the conference was a one-on-one debate between EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici and the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation Bernadette Ségol. The main topic of the debate was the need to reconcile investment policies, budgetary responsibility and social justice.
Pierre Moscovici said: "One euro spent on debt means one euro less for education, health and public services. It is essential that fiscal consolidation and social justice go hand in hand. We need to focus on production, distribution and the reduction of social inequalities". He added: "Tax evasion is not acceptable. So why do multi nationals get away with it? I believe that transparency can be a weapon of mass destruction of privileges. After laws around the transparency of tax regimes enter into force in January 2016, tax harmonization will follow. Companies will be obliged to work differently. We socialists are committed to fight for greater transparency at every level".
Bernadette Ségol highlighted that; "Taxation and wage dumping are the cancer of the European labour market and it will take more than implementing the Posting of Workers Directive to solve it. Workers are being told that they are too expensive and that their wages must be cut. This downward spiral needs to be put to an end. We must start with investment and job creation, not with austerity-only policies that impact future growth. Furthermore, we must promote social dialogue because without it there is no real growth".
The PES Fair Growth Conference brought together representatives of PES member parties, Member of National Parliaments, Members of the European Parliament, trade union and civil society representatives and academics. Speakers included Damon Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), USA, and Machiko Nissanke, Professor at the University of SOAS, London, Japan.
PES President Sergei Stanishev stated: “After years of conservative austerity-only policies, unemployment, poverty and debt levels remain an open wound in Europe. Now that austerity is widely considered a failure, the European Commission is following our lead and putting investment and job creation at the heart of policy making. This conference is the perfect opportunity to build upon our successes and show the way of how and where to invest in Europe to jump-start fair growth and avoid the threat of deflation. If we want to keep making European policies more progressive and effective, we must step up our social and economic demands and accelerate change in the European Union”.
PES Deputy Secretary General Yonnec Polet pointed out that; “the conference addressed both sides of the investment discussion. On the one hand, experts from the European Union, the United States and Japan analysed which are the best tools to mobilise substantial capital. On the other hand, specialists from all sectors outlined ways in which investment policies can vastly improve the European Union’s social and employment situation. Together, we can find the way forward for Europe's economic growth, investment and job creation”.