Zagreb - European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica on Friday presented in the Croatian parliament "A New Start: The 2015 Work Programme", the first annual work programme of the new European Commission presided over by Jean-Claude Juncker.
This year must be one of results and implementation, both on the European and the national level, because growth and development in the European Union are possible only if all participants and decision-makers act together, Mimica said. Speaking of the main economic and social challenges in Europe, he mentioned high unemployment, notably among youth, slow growth, high public debt, the investment gap, Europe's lack of competitiveness on the global market, and the feeling of insecurity because of increased terrorist threats.
Increasing employment, growth and investment is the top priority, and the goal of the recently adopted investment plan is to encourage public and private investments in the economy by at least EUR 315 billion over the next three years, Mimica said.
The Commission will promote innovative financial instruments and present several programmes to improve the business environment and eliminate investment obstacles, he added, hoping "that this package of measures will certainly make an impact in Croatia too." The next step will be creating a capital market union, with special emphasis on small and medium businesses.
Mimica said it was unacceptable that five million young people in Europe were unemployed. Unhappy with the implementation of the Youth Guarantee scheme so far, the Commission has proposed setting aside EUR 1 billion instead of the current EUR 38 million in the hope that about 650,000 young people will soon get the necessary support for employment, Mimica said.
He said it was necessary to further invest in research, education, and labour mobility. One of the initiatives is also creating a digital single market. Due to the continued strong consequences of the economic and financial crisis, the European Semester will continue to encourage structural reforms in all member states, Mimica said.
The Commission wants to do everything so that its citizens feel safe and protected, given the number of crises and conflicts, he said. "Building a wall around the EU isn't and can't be an option, but strengthening the effectiveness of all instruments the Union has at its disposal in this area in cooperation with member states and international partners is an option." With a similar objective, the Commission will propose a new, balanced migration plan, Mimica said.
Promoting peace and security in and outside the Union remains the Commission's main priority and pillar of foreign activity, he said. "On the international front, only together can we achieve results. By strengthening foreign and economic relations, we intend to contribute to the Union's growth and strengthen its position in the world. The negotiations with the United States on partnership in transatlantic trade and investments is just one of the key links," Mimica said, adding that the Commission pushed for a sensible and balanced agreement and transparent negotiations.
He said the Commission would continue to support neighbouring countries in the implementation of democratic and economic reforms and respect for rule of law. The ongoing enlargement negotiations will continue, but there will most likely be no further enlargement in the next five years, he added. (Hina/Press Office)