Howlin secures agreement of EU leaders for reexamination of fiscal rules

Issued 3 December 2016

bh - Prague

At a meeting of the leaders of socialist, social democratic and labour parties from across the EU in Prague last night, an agreement was reached to kick-start a process of reexamining the stability and growth pact, and the fiscal rules that flow from it.

The proposal was made by Labour leader Brendan Howlin, who said:

“We need to make investments which can be felt by citizens across Europe, investments that makes a noticeable difference to people's lives. We are currently too constrained from doing so, in my view, by the stability and growth pact and the resulting fiscal rules that our countries agreed to a few short years ago.

“In the main, this is because what the rules require of our states is that we measure fiscal performance, but not social measures. Why do we have a set of rules that measure our debt to GDP ratio, but don’t require any routine monitoring of basic poverty levels? Why do we focus on medium-term objectives, but not on the health of our environment or of our people?

“The Financial and Economic Network of the PES will now be tasked with drafting a report on this matter, to be considered by the leaders when we reconvene. They will propose a set of adjustments to the stability and growth pact – not changes that would undermine fiscal discipline, but changes that would add an urgency to investment in our societies, and would place the monitoring of our social good on a par with the strength of our economies.

“As the leaders of progressive political parties who are battling against populism and extremism all across the continent, we have an urgent need to spell out a genuine vision for how we can deliver a shared prosperity and truly sustainable growth. I am glad to have secured agreement last night on a measure that might help us take a significant step in that direction.”