PES European Affairs Ministers meet to coordinate in advance of the GAC Council meeting


PES General Affairs ministerial

The PES European Affairs Ministers met today to coordinate their positions in light of the General Affairs Council. The Ministers had the opportunity to exchange views on the state of play on the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) and the March European Council agenda. The discussions also focused on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), with the ministers pointing out that great emphasis needs to be put for fostering a balanced socioeconomic governance. Another point in the agenda was the Commission communication on the Energy Union which defines the EU’s plan to deepen cooperation in the field of energy policies with the aim to deliver EU citizens secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy.

Harlem Désir, chair of the PES GAC Ministers meetings and French Minister of State for European Affairs stated: ‘Today we had a very fruitful meeting and we had the chance to discuss very important issues. Firstly on Europe’s plan to foster investment, the EFSI has marked a great shift in the European policy mix. It is a great achievement for our political family that investment is now considered key for achieving economic recovery and creating new jobs. The success of the EFSI depends on the success of its projects. The guidelines that will be brought forward by the steering board on the selection of projects must ensure an economically sustainable future for all Europeans and strike the right balance between regional convergence and sectorial development. We urge for the swift implementation of the EFSI in order to accelerate economic recovery across Europe.

Secondly, the Energy Union is high-priority project for us. It is good that Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic’s proposal does not only focus on energy supply security but also emphasizes the Energy Union’s contribution to delivering our 2030 climate targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%. The Energy Union’s stipulated energy-efficiency-first principle and the increase of renewable energies is crucial in reaching both objectives, on energy supply security and climate protection. These policies also bear huge potential for investments and job creation. The PES will scrutinize how the European Fund for Strategic Investment and other existing European funds can best add to the creation of the Energy Union.

Thirdly, on strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the Annual Growth Survey 2015 fails to address the social challenges Europe faces and echoes the EMU’s lack of a social dimension. It is more than time for the European Semester to clearly and consistently address the high levels of unemployment, rising poverty and social exclusion. We urgently need a better coordination of the policies put forward in the Semester, to prevent that budget consolidation aggravates the employment and social situation in Member States. We will push for a real socioeconomic governance with the inclusion of a strong social dimension in the Semester.

The meeting was also attended by German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth, Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Margot Wallström, Italian State Secretary for European Affairs Sandro Gozi, Slovakian State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Peter Javorcik, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and 2017 Presidency Ian Borg, First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament Maria João Rodrigues, Secretary General of the S&D Group in the European Parliament Javier Moreno, S&D Group MEP Udo Bullmann, and PES Deputy Secretary General Marije Laffeber