Growth and budgets in the spotlight this WEEK
A European Parliament vote on the EU budget for 2013 and a multi-billion euro European Commission proposal to create more jobs dominate this week’s agenda.
On Tuesday, the commission will unveil its so-called Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) which is earmarked €50 billion for 2014 to 2020. The commission hopes the CEF will increase jobs and spur business in transport, energy, and digital networks.
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European commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso is set to open the CEF event along side leading business reps from the sectors. The money will finance projects “which fill the missing links in Europe's energy, transport and digital backbone”, says the commission.
One such related link was already endorsed on Friday (28 September) when Italy, Greece, and Albania agreed to support the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project. The agreement would open a gas corridor with pipes running from Azerbaijan, via Greece and Albania, across the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy, allowing further transport into Europe.
Meanwhile, one in two member states are either in recession or in economic stagnation with unemployment up in most, said employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor. His comments came on the heels of massive protests against austerity cuts throughout the week in Greece, Portugal, and Spain.
The European Parliament hopes to turn around the bleak unemployment figures but says the member states’ proposed cuts in the EU 2013 budget contradict the June ‘growth compact’ agreement.
The compact outlines a number of long-term policy initiatives with a stated aim to pull Europe out of its economic slump and get more people jobs.
MEPs are expected to reject the budget cuts and instead back the commission’s proposals in a Thursday vote in parliament’s budget committee.
Still on growth, EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier on Wednesday will outline plans to create a more integrated single market. The plans are a sequel to the commission’s single market act initially presented in April 2011. The latest iteration will spell out how to “deepen” the market.
Barnier will also on Tuesday present a report on possible reforms in EU banking sector structures. The report will present findings whether such structural reforms would increase bank stability, efficiency, and afford greater protection to ordinary account holders.
MEPs say they want greater democratic legitimacy in the EU’s grand plan for a banking, fiscal, economic and political union.
On Tuesday, EU parliament chief Martin Schulz along with the leaders of political groups will piece together their arguments in upcoming negotiations with member states and commission.
Gender issues are also on the agenda. EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding will on Wednesday square off with MEPs on her plans to impose a gender quota on the boards of large companies.
Finally, a delegation of eight MEPs on Monday will help monitor the Georgian elections.
Incumbent president Mikheil Saakashvili is facing a strong challenge from Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the main opposition movement.
Amnesty International has raised concerns over alleged strong-arm tactics by Saakashvili against opposition leaders and independent journalists.