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Commission repeating past mistakes with European Semester package

The European Commission’s key 2017 economic priorities for the EU have been branded as insufficient and a gift to the far-right during the debate on the European Semester package in the European Parliament this morning.

GUE/NGL’s representatives on the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) rounded on the Commissioner for failing to learn from the mistakes which have caused so much division within the Union through austerity measures.

Opening for the group, GUE/NGL MEP Paloma López (Spain) and shadow rapporteur on the Semester’s ‘Implementation of 2016 priorities’ said:

“The economic priorities expressed by the Commissioner are insufficient. The recommendations are measures which have failed year after year.”

“The Commissioner is asking for improvements in education just as public services are being cut!” reasoned López.

“These are the same measures which have led us to Brexit; the dissatisfaction of our citizens and the rise of the far-right.”

“Instead, we should have capital paying taxes; real investment; a protective model that is sustainable; improved productivity and a real social pillar,” pleaded the Spanish MEP.

Greek MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis was equally damning of the Commissioner saying that such policies are, in fact, destroying Europe:

“This reckless, unilateral austerity – the Schäuble doctrine – is killing growth.”

“It is destroying Europe, deepening social and regional inequalities, and helps feed the populist far-right which wants to destroy the European Union.”

“The Commissioner must also stop Wolfgang Schäuble's bullying just because he wants to replace the institutional role of the European Commission with automated mechanisms and technocrats like the ESM (European Stability Mechanism). We are hoping for a strong response on this matter from the Commissioner,” said the Greek MEP.

Portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas, meanwhile, pointed out that the Commission’s previous blackmailing of member states had already backfired:

“This package marks the start of a new round of economic governance with more blackmail on member states and their budgetary policies.”

“It’s an ode to neoliberal policies which have underpinned austerity,” he argued.

“Yet, despite all these threats of fines or suspension of the Structural Funds, Portugal’s economy has grown and public accounts have got better.”

“Of course, the Commission doesn’t take notice of any of that because the economic governance that supports the euro and EMU is an instrument that is going to be used to push through the European Union's neoliberal agenda at the expense of the workers,” surmised Viegas.