Valitsus.ee, 30 January 2012
Brussels - At an unofficial meeting of the European Council in Brussels today, heads of state and government leaders of the European Union debated ways of boosting economic growth and employment.
Three topics formed the core of discussions: stimulating employment, particularly among young people; further development of the single internal market; and the financing of small and medium-sized companies.
At the invitation of the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip opened discussion on the internal market. The internal market is one of the support structures of the European Union, whose purpose is to remove barriers to the free movement of goods, people, services and capital between Member States.
Prime Minister Ansip expressed his disappointment that the principles of the internal market had not been fully implemented. He said that he sees a number of obstacles to the development of the market, including protectionist policies and fear of competition compounded by the recession.
“I don’t see how Europe can cope with global competition if we’re afraid of competition within our own borders,” he remarked.
The prime minister said that in his view, in order to open up the internal market, the number of ‘regulated professions’ needed to be reduced, discriminatory exceptions in the services directive needed to be done away with, the working time directive needed to be amended and the administrative burden on small companies needed to be reduced.
“Free, honest and open trade is the basis of economic growth, higher employment and overall stability,” he said.
Prime Minister Ansip also expressed his view that greater authority should be given to the European Commission to monitor and regulate the implementation of the four freedoms – the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.
An agreement was also finalised at the meeting in regard to a fiscal pact. Government leaders from the European Union view this as a significant step towards greater fiscal and economic integration.
“Estonia welcomes the agreement,” said Ansip. “It will markedly boost options for ensuring that Member States’ budgets are sustainable.”
The consensus reached by ministers of finance at the meeting in terms of the treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) was also welcomed by the Council. The treaty is ready to be signed, with the aim being for it to enter force in July 2012. As a permanent mechanism for crisis management, the ESM was created in order to increase trust and financial stability in the euro area.
EU leaders debate economic issues and agree on fiscal pact