PES Prime Ministers meeting call on European Council to recognise need for investment
“A fiscal compact on its own will not provide solutions”. These were the words of the Party of European Socialists (PES) President, Sergei Stanishev following a pre-European Council meeting of PES Prime Ministers. Answering questions on the European Council debate, PES President Sergei Stanishev said that there needs to be clearly identified sources of financing. “Otherwise it is empty rhetoric”, said the PES President. Referencing the draft conclusions before the Council he commented; “Centre-right politicians need to make a leap from what are just words on a page to a genuine list of action points that can actually have an impact on people’s lives”.
He listed the 10 billion euros of unused EU structural funds that could be accessed, as mentioned by Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann. The 200 billion euro potential of a European-wide financial transaction tax was also flagged.
Speaking of the PES alternative programme for growth, Mr. Stanishev said “As a political family we are united. We are confident that there is a distinct progressive direction that we could take”. The former Bulgarian Prime Minister mentioned that the burden on the citizens alone was too high. He listed a number of concrete financing tools that the European Union needed to outline included European project bonds, a financial transaction tax and a proper use of the European Investment Bank. He said that the response to the crisis should not be an excuse to reduce labour standards.
Mr. Stanishev again put the priority on tackling youth unemployment. He stated that the PES would commit to a sustained campaign which defines youth employment as a right. The PES stated that they would take advantage of the 4 upcoming ‘progressive’ EU Presidencies to give real depth to the proposal. The Danish Presidency would be followed by Cyprus, Ireland, and Lithuania. To this end the Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias also attended the PM’s meeting to best coordinate a coherent strategy on youth unemployment.
PES Secretary General Philip Cordery also drew attention to the contrast between the PES programme and the right-wing European People’s Party who had failed to hold a pre-summit meeting. He noted that; “as the draft before the European Council is so biased towards austerity only, perhaps the EPP did not need to meet”. He also noted that while the PES had clearly supported Hungarian opposition leader Attila Mesterhazy the EPP had yet to move from ambiguous statements on Hungarian Prime Minister, and EPP vice-President, Viktor Orban.
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