The European economy is growing at a fast pace across Member States and unemployment is falling. Looking ahead, this robust performance is expected to continue in the coming years. The global environment, however, remains uncertain, and we need to continue to ensure the conditions to support confidence.
One essential aspect, in order to foster jobs and growth and promote innovation, is to unlock the full potential of the Single Market. The European Council will address the different single market strategies, including when it comes to the Digital Single Market, the Capital Markets Union and the Energy Union, to ensure sustained progress.
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Delivering on these strategies in the current institutional cycle is a shared responsibility that will require co-legislators to continue to work closely on a number of legislative files and to speed up the process where necessary. Policy priorities under the European Semester also help create the right conditions for growth.
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We will have the opportunity to discuss this tomorrow night. The European Council will provide guidance on the priorities for and will be invited to endorse the recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.
The European Council will also return to social issues following the debate held in December. Last but not least, we know how vital trade is to our common prosperity in Europe and globally. That is why any attempts to undermine the rules-based multilateral trading system affect all of us. The European Union should play a leading role in opposing them.
The European Council will discuss international trade relations following the US announcements. I know you will discuss this tomorrow and will review ongoing work in the field of trade policy and free trade agreement negotiations. They will hold an open debate, with a particular focus on the challenges associated with digital taxation. Finally, leaders of the euro area will meet in the margins of the European Council. They will hold an open debate on long-term issues that are specific to the euro area.au.doqazarone.tk
So, altogether, the leaders next week will touch upon many aspects that underpin our economic and social future. As you know, this is a major event for the Presidency. The Council will also discuss relations with Turkey. As you just discussed, the European Council on Article 50 will meet on Friday to review the state of the negotiations with the United Kingdom and adopt additional guidelines on the future relationship with the UK.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Commission. It was a memorable trip for many reasons. What struck me the most was the passion and conviction in the European Union. This gave me a renewed sense of belief and hope that if a region, a dramatic region like the Western Balkans, is so determined to reform from top to bottom in order to join our Union, then we must be a Union worth being part of. The Western Balkans clearly see much more in us then we ourselves see in our Union. I want to see the same belief in our Union across all 27 Member States. Of course, there is a great deal of work to be done.
All bilateral disputes must be resolved and more unity is needed. Each of the Western Balkan partners must continue their reform path, especially when it comes to the rule of law and fundamental freedoms and values. As I said to all leaders in the region, there will be no fast-tracking.
We will put substance over speed.
Each case will be taken on its own merits, with no fixed dates or firm deadlines. But I came back from the trip more convinced than ever that it is our shared future.
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It is about reconciling our history and geography, but it is also another reason to focus on building a stronger, more democratic and united Union. This is what the March European Council is about. I would like to thank this House and the Bulgarian Presidency for leading the way in recent weeks. The breakthrough on posted workers will ensure that fairness comes first in our labour market. As we collectively agreed: equal pay for equal work in the same place.
The agreement on 5G shows that we are serious about our digital leadership and equipping ourselves with the tools we need to thrive in the society of tomorrow. Mr President, Europe believe in open and fair trade based on a global rule book. Our economy depends on it and our consumers expect it.
But as I have said all along: we are not naive free traders. So we will not sit idly by if our industry is hit with unfair trade measures that put European jobs at risk. We will defend our workers; we will defend our industry, and we will do so while respecting the rules that the world agreed to under the WTO. The United States has regrettably decided to impose restrictions on steel and aluminium which will impact a significant amount of EU trade.
We believe in win-win trade, but going it alone on tariffs is a lose-lose for all. Yes, the global steel industry has an overcapacity problem. This is why, since December, along with Japan and the US, we have been looking at how to address this issue globally. And she also expressed our concerns to the United States on the tariffs being imposed on national security grounds. We are long-standing and trusted security partners and we work together to keep each other safe and secure. We will keep making this point in the run-up to the European Council next week.
We are expecting more clarity from the American side in the coming days, and we will continue to work with our partners to push for an exemption from these measures. As always, we will — and we have to — prepare for all eventualities. Should the need arise, the European Union will respond in three ways.
Firstly, under WTO rules we have the right to rebalance these measures, and we stand ready to do so. Secondly, we will be ready with safeguard measures if there is a surge in imports into the European Union as a result of the US closing its market. And thirdly, we will seek dispute settlement consultations in the WTO, in conjunction with other affected countries. Gleichzeitig haben wir in Europa mehr Menschen in Arbeit als jemals zuvor, ,3 Millionen — ein neuer Rekord. Und genau das tun wir.
Dort haben wir schon einige Erfolge erzielt. Seit ist der durchschnittliche Anteil notleidender Kredite in der EU schon um ein Drittel gesunken. Dabei wollen wir es nicht belassen. Genau darum geht es beim Gipfel. Wie Sie wissen, bin ich kein Freund einer Haftungsgemeinschaft. Im Hause werden wir das sicher noch rauf und runter diskutieren. In this context, the European Union needs to assert its own vision and its own way of life and to have a long—term strategy, which should be based on human dignity, fairness, democracy and a clear commitment to sustainable development.
Yes, climate change is there, and we need to have a growth strategy driven by sustainable development goals. Yes, the digital revolution can change our way of life, but we want to make the best of this by framing this revolution. That is why our commitment to the European Pillar of Social Rights is so crucial. We need to tackle not only the old inequalities, but also the new ones.
We are now waiting for the final content of the Social Fairness Package to be adopted by the Commission because we need to make sure that all citizens can have access to full coverage via social protection. But can we say that all citizens now have real access to all these benefits? This is not the case. We still have many inequalities across the Union, and that is why we in the European Parliament really expect a forward—looking Community budget — the financial framework — to ensure that these promises will be delivered. The same applies to the eurozone.
We need to stop the trend for divergence. But then we come to the big problem. How can we finance this? That is where the discussion on taxation, which will take place in this European Council, is so crucial. Let me give a very simple figure. When it comes to large corporations, something very weird is happening. So the situation we have is that large corporations are paying less and less tax, while our governments are under pressure to make cuts to welfare and healthcare systems.
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Something is wrong, and we should not be surprised that citizens are now feeling insecure and that nationalistic and xenophobic positions are gaining ground. We need to reverse this trend. If the European Council really wants to change the situation in Europe, it needs to be bold on fair taxation. Nu wil ik het hebben over de toekomst van Europa die sociaal moet zijn. We moeten aan opwaartse convergentie werken en van de EU een plek maken waar het voor eenieder goed is om te leven. Dit doen we onder meer door fraude en sociale dumping aan te pakken.
Dit is terecht een prioriteit van de Commissie Juncker, al stel ik me wel kritische vragen bij de manier waarop de Commissie deze sociale doelstelling wil bereiken.
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