Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) As the global economy continues to recover from the impacts of the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, the debate on Europe’s economic competitiveness has become more pressing. With concerns mounting over Europe’s ability to keep up with economic powerhouses such as China and the United States, policymakers and experts are grappling with how to boost the continent’s economic performance.
At the heart of the debate is the question of whether Europe’s current economic model is fit for purpose. While Europe has traditionally placed a strong emphasis on social welfare and environmental protection, some argue that this has come at the expense of economic competitiveness. Critics argue that Europe’s strict regulatory environment and high taxes have stifled innovation and deterred foreign investment, putting the continent at a disadvantage compared to other regions.
In light of the development of the events on Wednesday, in a debate with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, MEPs presented their expectations and demands in anticipation of the EU Summit on March 23-24.
The President of the European Council pointed out that Ukraine needs Europe’s support for ammunition, and affirmed that EU leaders will work on High Representative Borrell’s proposal to assist Kyiv.
‘’We support the just peace formula proposed by President Zelensky. It is based on the UN Charter. It is based on respect for international law. And we are working hard to rally the international community behind peace efforts’’, he stated.
Bringing the European Union to the forefront, the President of the European Council drew attention to the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine focusing on the competitiveness of the economy, both in the short and long term. He stressed that the several short-term actions taken by the EU tackled the present crises but, ‘’we also must take action in the long term because we cannot allow the short-term measures to undermine our long-term strategy. In the long term, I think we need to work on three areas investment, innovation, and trade’’.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, reporting back from her meeting with US President Joe Biden, confirmed that US and Europe are moving in the same direction. She mentioned: ‘’ There is a striking symmetry between the Inflation Reduction Act and the European Green Deal. Both of them are simultaneously a climate strategy and a strategy for investment and growth’’.
She announced that on Thursday the Commission will present its proposals for a net-zero industry act and a critical raw materials act, both important for Europe’s competitiveness and independence.
MEPs call for a competitive economy
Following the earlier discussion, in the topical debate for ‘’More Europe, more jobs: we are building the competitive economy of tomorrow for the benefit of all’’ initiated by the Renew Europe Group, the European members outline their views on Europe’s economic model.
President of Renew Europe, Stéphane Séjourné, articulated a vision for a European response to the European industrial emergency.“We have to embrace the Green Deal, not see it as a threat, as some on the political right do. Our industrial competitiveness has declined because of energy costs. It is at the European level that we must invest massively in renewable energy and building insulation. Those who invent the sustainable and low-carbon economic model will have the rest of the world as their customers’’, he mentioned.
Jessika Roswall, Minister for EU Affairs, commented: ‘’Investing in Europe’s long-term competitiveness is how we create more jobs and build a stronger economy for all. The key to do this is to focus on our biggest and stronger assets, Single Market and Sustainable Trade’’.
Further comments came from Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights. He assured that Europe will boost reforms and investments needed for the green and digital transition. He said mentioned that Europe should secure its industrial lead having as a result quality jobs, innovation, and economic growth.