MP and former Minister Tonio Fenech attended the European Parliamentary Week (EPW) that was held in the European Parliament in Brussels between the 20 and 22 January 2014. The European Parliamentary Week brought together some 150 members of EU national parliaments and Members of the European Parliament to discuss all aspects of economic governance and policy coordination. One of the main issues on the agenda was the impact of the economic crisis and austerity measures in Europe
The opening session was addressed by Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament; Vangelis Meimarakis, Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament; Josè Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.
The second meeting of the Interparliamentary Conference on Economic Governance of the EU, based on Article 13 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG), was also held within the framework of the EPW. The Article 13 Conference focussed on three themes: The democratic legitimacy of economic adjustment programmes; Promoting growth and jobs in Europe through financing the real economy; and Enhanced Fiscal surveillance in EMU.
Amongst the observations made during the discussions, participants said that the crisis has revealed that national policies need to be a matter of common concern, they need to be discussed at the European level and the European dimension needs to be brought into national debates.
They noted that European economic governance decisions will only succeed if parliaments across the EU work well together and are closely involved and in control of those decisions, emphasising the need for better coordination between the EP and the national parliaments.
Participants said that more emphasis must be placed on the spill-over effects from national economic policies and national reform programmes needed to be discussed and adopted by national parliaments to increase their legitimacy and ownership.
Members warned that disregard for social concerns would have a negative impact on the macroeconomic situation, noting the social disparities that exist between countries, regions and people.
Amongst the points made by various participants at the meetings, were the:
- the negative impact of austerity measures on the standard of living of citizens
- the need to deliver tangible results to the citizens, especially to those who have borne the brunt of the crisis
- the need for more monitoring and supervision to ensure that the economic policy recommendations are properly implemented
- the need for governments to deliver more tangible results to citizens and
- the need on making EU funding less technically complex to obtain.