Speaking during this morning's European Parliament debate on this week's European Council of heads of state and governments, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer questioned the Council on the readiness of member states to engage in sustainable investment on a solid financial footing and above all to set priorities for investment. “I don't perceive this willingness. I think this is the nub of the matter,” she said.

Ms Zimmer said that as candidate for the Commission´s Presidency, Mr Juncker had proposed a programme that was directed to a more social and ecological sustainable development. She was opposed to the direction the programme is now taking in which these necessary investments are mainly based on private money, not on public spending.

“Do you trust the governments that they will not just present their old national projects as ones that will attract new investment to boost sustainable development? I think there is a lot more to do if we want investment in decent employment and social development.”

Talking about the Commission's “kill list” of pending legislation, she asked the Council if they wanted to improve the investment environment by getting rid of the maternity directive and by lowering environmental standards?

“There is a great deal to be done if we really want sustainable investment to take account of social, environmental and employment needs,” continued Zimmer. “There are things we have agreed on democratically that seem to be disappearing from the programme.”

“In the preparatory discussion for this Council we wanted to hear a completely different agenda, in other words the lives of citizens in Europe should be at the heart of our concerns,” said Italian GUE/NGL MEP Eleonora Forenza.

“If that was the case there would only be one item on the agenda: how to redistribute income and employment and how to plug the inequalities that have arisen out of austerity policies,” she said. Referring to the recent OECD report on inequalities harming growth, she said that the EU needed to change its economic policies and invest in education and restore a decent citizens' income at EU level.

MEP Forenza concluded: “Above all we need to ensure that there are €315 billion available while we are being told that there will only be 21 billion forthcoming. This is an empty box that needs to be filled.”

Greek MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis said that the neoliberal belief that one-sided austerity would increase investment has been tested in the past 6 years and investment has fallen by 15%, so we need a change of policy.

“We need more public finance for growth from the Union budget and from member states' budgets. The package you are proposing is nearly empty. We need to know how member states will contribute, how we will have viable investment. I fear it will just be Christmas wishes at the European summit.”

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