Road to EU 2024

How to tackle competitiveness issues: the answers from the Political Groups

June 2024
By Editorial Staff

As Europe approaches the pivotal European elections, the continent’s economic vitality hangs in the balance. Political factions across the spectrum are weighing in on how to bolster competitiveness and economic growth. Amidst the backdrop of global challenges, these discussions constitute the blueprint for Europe’s economic resurgence.

The European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are the main groups delving into details about addressing competitiveness in Europe. The EPP proposes a strategy including an EU Competitiveness Check, support for SMEs, and a dedicated Commissioner. Meanwhile, the S&D focuses on Europe’s sovereignty and supply security, advocating for permanent investment capacity, a strong budget with social rights, and a social market economy aimed at sustainability and job creation.

The S&D and the Greens/EFA groups deliver the strongest stances on this latter topic. The S&D group emphasizes workers’ rights, fair wages, and gender equality, aiming to improve work conditions and end unpaid internships by 2030. They seek a Social Progress Protocol and a robust European Labor Authority. The Greens/EFA focus on job quality, union support, and equitable profit sharing, advocating for a minimum income, a Just Transition Law, and the permanence of the SURE scheme, alongside better work-life balance and equal pay initiatives.

Regarding the topic of digital advancements, groups maintain firm positions, particularly concerning AI. Initially, the EPP advocates for limited regulation, suggesting the introduction of a “tech giant tax.” Conversely, S&D champions the utilization of AI to safeguard workers and citizens across Europe. Furthermore, Renew Europe underscores the importance of consumer protections alongside the advancement of human-centric AI. Additionally, the Greens endorse a rights-based digital strategy, denouncing the employment of AI for extensive surveillance and profiling. Lastly, the Left insists on transparency and calls for prohibitions on the deployment of high-risk AI applications and the integration of AI in weaponry.

To various degrees, every political group agrees on the importance of education and culture to make Europe more competitive on the global scene. The EPP asks for a 4% GDP investment in research and the establishment of a Digital Museum of European Culture. S&D prioritizes democratic access to knowledge and public services like healthcare and education. Renew Europe focuses on bolstering higher education systems and mutual recognition of qualifications, whereas the Greens advocate for accessible education and cultural engagement in environmental and social initiatives. The Left distinguishes itself by proposing a substantial 7% GDP allocation to education, research, and culture.

Last, but not least, another transversal topic addressed with various strategies: trade and economic relations with China. While EPP prioritizes finalizing agreements like Mercosur, Australia, and India, and intensifying partnerships with Africa, European political groups address trade with China diversely. EPP focuses on finalizing deals with regions like Mercosur and strengthening African partnerships. S&D champions a trade agenda that supports Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on social and environmental norms. Renew Europe seeks to bolster the single market through agreements with microstates and open economies, maintaining international commitments. ECR advocates for free trade, diversified relations, and WTO reform. The Greens push for trade policies that support climate action and human rights, while The Left opposes neoliberal trade deals, favoring co-development and sustainable practices.

Moreover, the EPP, Renew, the ECR, and the Greens both agree on a de-risking approach with China, reducing over-dependencies. S&D adopts a more nuanced approach, calling for constructive relations with China in the name of promoting and protecting EU values and interests.