30. 12. 201912:32

Setting new priorities in the new European Semester cycle

On 17 December 2019 the European Commission published the new Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020 (ASGS), which was released along with other traditional components of the European Semester. The ASGS replaced its predecessor, the Annual Growth Survey (AGS). The rebranding of this document is supposed reflect the determination of Ursula von der Leyen‘s new college of commissioners to tackle climate change and to employ all available instruments to attain carbon neutrality by 2050

The ASGS was released later than usual as the new college of Commissioners used it as a platform to present the new direction of its economic policy. In its introduction the document depicts the ongoing structural changes related to climate change, technological innovation and demographic developments, which EU member states need to face and address with a bolder growth strategy. This new model will take into account the exhaustibility of natural resources, it will support the creation of jobs and will ensure enduring and sustainable long-term prosperity. If the EU desires to preserve its competitiveness and achieve its climate targets, it will have to live up to the challenge and confront the economic woes and hazards that might arise along the way. In this respect the ASGS refers to the European Green Deal (EGD, published on December 11). The EGD is an incarnation of the EU´s new economic vision whose principal intention is to render the EU economy more sustainable and help to align its economic course with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is of crucial importance that Europe preserves its pioneering welfare systems and becomes the first environmentally neutral continent in the world. In order to reach this goal Europe must become an epicentre of innovation and competitive enterprise. This can be achieved through the development of new technologies, by completing the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and by abiding to the principles and norms set in the European Pillar of Social Rights. It will be of equal importance to make sure that the transition to sustainability is fair for all the participants and that adequate effort is devoted to the creation of a fully functioning green economy.

The ASGS asserts that the European economy is experiencing its seventh annum of consecutive growth and estimates that this trend should persist in the upcoming years, albeit at a slower pace. The state of public finances is improving, unemployment rates are decreasing, the banking system is getting more resilient and the integrity of the EMU is growing stronger. Investment and growth potential however remain at pre-2008 levels. The greatest risks on the long-term endangering European prosperity are slow productivity growth rates, an aging population and an intensifying impact of climate change.