Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), The EU is facing a number of important structural challenges, the European Commission has warned.
These, it says, included low productivity growth, the green and digital transitions, aging, and social inclusion.
These issues “need to be tackled in order to stay on the path of sustainable competitiveness.”
Disruptive geopolitical events have also demonstrated the need for the EU to remain competitive in a global market while ensuring that no one is left behind, says the EC.
The warning came on Tuesday when the Commission launched the 2024 European Semester cycle of economic policy coordination.
The so-called Autumn package draws on the Autumn 2023 Economic Forecast which showed that the EU economy continues to be resilient in the face of the multiple shocks endured in recent years, but that it has lost growth momentum in 2023 in a context of high inflation and tighter financing conditions, with only a moderate uptick in growth expected in 2024.
The EC said, “Economic policy coordination through the European Semester will help Member States achieve these objectives by setting priorities and providing clear and well-coordinated policy guidance for the coming year.”
This year’s Annual Sustainable Growth Survey puts forward an ambitious agenda to further strengthen a coordinated EU policy response to enhance the EU’s competitiveness, says the EC.
It says the four priorities under the European Semester remain.
promoting environmental sustainability, productivity, fairness, and macroeconomic stability, with a view to fostering competitive sustainability.
This approach is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are an integral part of the European Semester, said the EC.
The emphasis, it adds, must be on removing bottlenecks to private and public investment and supporting a conducive business environment.
Overall, the EU employment rate reached 74.6% in 2022. It rose further to 75.4% in the second quarter of 2023, well surpassing pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, EU unemployment decreased to a historic low in 2022 (6.2%), a trend that continued in the second quarter of 2023 (6%). Nevertheless, disparities exist across Member States, regions, and sectors.
The Commission spokesman said it “also looks forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with the European Parliament on the contents of this package.”