Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Commission warned over social impact of austerity measures

The European Commission has been told it is a "tremendous mistake" to ignore the social impact of austerity measures.

On 15 February 2012, MEPs debated a series of reports by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and the Economic Affairs Committee on the Commission's annual growth survey.

The survey was published in November 2011 and set out the priorities for economic growth in 2012.

However the author of one of the reports, Dutch green MEP Marije Cornelissen said that there would be no growth in the EU because resources were focused on dealing with the ongoing crisis in the eurozone.

"Currencies are there to serve the people, not the other way around," she concluded.

The growth survey highlights a deteriorating social and economic situation across the EU and urges member states to focus on a number of key priorities, such as tackling unemployment, modernising the public sector and increasing lending to small businesses.

Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor said forthcoming legislation on a European patent system, and on further cuts to mobile roaming charges could go some way to boosting the economy.

The committee reports say that at the current rate, the EU will not hit the various goals contained in the EU's 2020 Strategy on economic growth, such as reducing poverty and unemployment.

However newly appointed British conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre said she could not support the report.

"It is too early to make presumptions of failure," she said. "We need to allow member states time to implement the 2020 Strategy".

The reports were formally passed the daily voting session later in the day.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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