Europe needs 'ambitious growth agenda': prime ministers

7th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Three European leaders Thursday called for an ambitious growth agenda to get the continent back on track, including tight fiscal discipline by member states as the euro debt crisis deepens.

"A clear and credible commitment to work on an ambitious growth agenda, both at the national and at the EU level, is necessary to get Europe back on track," said the prime ministers of Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden in a letter to top European Union officials.

"The seriousness of the crisis we face underlines the importance of an EU growth agenda," added Jyrki Katainen, Mark Rutte and Fredrik Reinfeldt in the letter, published on the Dutch government's website late Thursday.

Dated October 5, it is addressed to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman van Rompuy.

It makes a number of suggestions on how to strengthen growth within the area including "high levels of ambition on open and competitive markets, innovation, access to finance, smart regulation and a strong single market".

"If we want to continue to benefit from the world's largest internal market that has been carefully constructed during the last 50 years, all member states must be involved in the decisions to further the EU's growth and competitiveness," the trio added.

"Those benefits would be lost in a two-speed Europe," they said.

The letter comes ahead of a European Council meeting later this month, where the three leaders said "existing working programmes towards crisis-related and growth-enhancing measures" should be given priority.

The leaders warned "peer pressure must be intensified" to speed up changes to make states more competitive.

"The suggestions relate to calls made last month by Mr Rutte for an independent European commissioner" to ensure countries stayed in line with stability pact rules, his spokesman Henk Brons told AFP.

The liberal Dutch premier mooted measures to include a reduction in European funding and a "loss in voting rights" against non-compliant countries, adding as a last resort countries should have the choice of dropping out of the eurozone.

© 2011 AFP

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