Juncker Commission record: High jobs rate, lower deficit
Banking Union, “key to fighting future shocks”, was not fully implementedMaria Koleva , Brussels
During the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on 22 October, MEPs assessed what work has done the outgoing Commission over the last five years. In his statement in the Chamber, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker revealed what headway his team made in priority areas such as growth, jobs and investment. He also touched upon the engagement with citizens, cutting red tape, and the promise for focusing on the big issues.
We are experiencing the twenty fifth consecutive quarter of growth, we have had seven years of European growth, he told MEPs, adding that 14 million jobs have been created. He also stressed that now 241 million Europeans are at work, an employment rate of 73.9%, which indicates the lowest since the 2000 unemployment level.
The Commission has in its record 15 new trade agreements. “Today we have trade agreements with 60 countries, which reflects 40% of global wealth,” Juncker said. Trade agreements help us to be present on the international scene at a time when the United States is turning its back on multilateralism, he added.
Since its launch in 2015, the so-called Juncker Plan generated investments of around €432bn. With his specific sense of humour, he said that at the beginning people thought that this plan would be a failure, the plan was titled after his name, but “now when it's a success, we are talking about the European Fund for Strategic Investments”. Through this plan have been created more than a million jobs.
Deficits went from 6.6% to 0.7%. The intelligent flexibilisation of the Stability and Growth Pact has enabled us to respond now when Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece have asked us to act in their favour, Juncker urged.
Compared to previous Commissions, the EU executive tabled 83% fewer legislative initiatives, also withdrawing 142 legislative proposals, and modernised 162 existing laws.
On the disappointments side, he mentioned the Cyprus reunification issue that was not advanced despite the best efforts, and also the treaty with Switzerland that was not concluded. Banking Union, “key to fighting future shocks”, was not fully implemented.
According to him, the “biggest European success remains the fact that we could maintain peace in Europe”.
Recalling the time when he took office in 2014, he said “Europe was in fact in fragile state, solidarity had been cracked”. Europe in 2014 was not well loved, which is why we talked about a last chance Commission. It was a Commission that was there to help Europe that was broken down to some extent, he underscored.
Many group leaders from different political families at the house commended the Commission President for his efforts during the past five years on economic and migration crises and Brexit negotiations, for putting social issues on the agenda and for moving away from austerity.
In their statements, some lawmakers criticised the Juncker Commission for not doing enough to tackle climate change, for not having democratised GMO's authorisation, and for demonstrating weakness in protecting whistleblowers.