The financial and economic crisis of 2008 brought us to the verge of total economic collapse. Our economies have recovered since and have gotten people back to work. But not everyone feels this yet. We want everyone — old and young, rich and poor, male and female, city-dweller and rural resident — to be better off. This is our main goal.
Our ideals originate from fighting for equality of opportunity and making sure that everyone has opportunities to benefit. We believe that only sustainable economic growth can lead to long-lasting and prosperous recovery. Having a job is the most important source of income for many citizens, and their greatest protection against poverty. The risk of poverty for people at work is more than three times lower than for people out of work. We must make sure that we put in place inclusive policies which benefit every part of society and every citizen. We are against public spending policies which can boost growth in the short term but which produce, in the long term, inflation, loss of competitiveness, unemployment and poverty.
Much more ability is needed in order for people to succeed: new skills, creativity, the ability to use digital technologies, greater flexibility and a willingness to adjust. We must make sure that our policies support our citizens when support is needed and that we provide a trampoline-like safety net to help people bounce back from unemployment and re-enter the labour market. The Social Market Economy provides an excellent backbone for formulating policies which lead to the kinds of growth benefiting all groups in society, not only a few. We are the people’s party, after all, and we strive to build a society and an economy that works for all.
No political party can guarantee jobs and success for every citizen. Fairness is an important value for us, and therefore we will not promise something we cannot deliver. But we can deliver policies which create a framework allowing every citizen to succeed by developing and maximising his or her talents and skills at work. For us, the key aspects are education, human capital and equality of opportunity in an entrepreneurial society.
The EU has about 7% of the world’s population and yet accounts for about 50% of all global welfare payments. The European Union has the best welfare system worldwide, and we can be proud of this. Demographic change creates challenges for financing our welfare model. Therefore, we strive for the maximum participation of all working-age citizens, as well as for future-oriented reforms of the public sector. We want to create conditions in which everyone finds the opportunity to prosper!
Many people and families were deeply hurt by the economic and financial crisis, but no group was as badly hurt as our youth. Although unemployment numbers in general are declining, the EU28’s youth unemployment rate is still too high. We want to bring more prosperity and wellbeing to our citizens — and quickly — in order to allow everyone to feel the reality of economic growth. We must continue our successful policies in supporting recovery and creating jobs, and we must ensure this can be felt in each household. This must invariably mean that we continue with structural reforms to increase the efficiency of the public sector and the functioning of labour markets, bringing quality services and jobs to our citizens. The EPP:
Investing is the key to economic prosperity, innovation and sustainable growth. We promised in the 2014 European elections that we would boost investments if we won. We have delivered on that. The Juncker Plan has thus far increased investments by more than 160 billion euros and enabled more than 385,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access financing during the Plan’s first year-and-a-half of operations. This will ultimately lead to millions of new jobs. But we are not done yet: our future depends on investments in innovation, research and development as well as on harnessing the skills and creativity of our people and on increasing productivity. We want Europe to be the best place, the hub, for starting, running and developing businesses and enterprises. The EPP:
The world is changing ever more quickly. Our education systems must keep pace. More needs to be invested in skills training for those already in the labour market, as well as for children and youth currently completing their education. Fundamental public investment in human capital — the health and education sectors, among others — can deliver important long-term returns. Only by putting into practice the principle of lifelong learning can we find solutions to the various challenges we are facing: retraining and upskilling employees in those professions most in danger of being replaced or significantly changed by technology and providing relevant skills — such as digital skills, intellectual agility, social skills, creativity and collaborative attitudes — in order to help our youth succeed in the future. Skills will become ever more important as citizens are expected to change jobs, professions and professional fields more frequently than in the past, as well as because some jobs, especially those requiring low skills and easily automated, disappear due to technological change. Providing access to high-quality education for every citizen — at all stages of his or her life and career — will be the key to achieving true equality of opportunity. In many new activities, the difference between employment and self-employment has become more vague. As a party that supports meritocracy, we must make sure that all work continues to be rewarded fairly. The EPP:
Defending the Social Market Economy means that we support people when they face hardship. Solidarity is one of our key values; but this must be accompanied by fairness and responsibility. We are committed to helping those in need, while also striving for the maximum participation of all working-age citizens. Therefore, what we want is to prioritise active policies which help people re-enter the labour market as quickly as possible. We will need everyone’s contribution — and all the more so as the working-age population continues to decline in relative terms. People must be treated with respect when they face hardship, and helped to move forward. Labour market patterns are changing; this is why we should redesign our social policies in order to efficiently handle our citizens’ needs in a rapidly changing world. The EPP:
It is important for our societies that citizens consider policies and legislation fair. We must make sure that everyone contributes his or her fair share to providing the services we all benefit from. All companies, regardless of their size, must in general be treated in the same fashion: there can be no loopholes giving certain companies financial or other benefits not available to all. The same applies to citizens; everyone, rich or poor, must help do his or her part. We must crack down on tax evasion out of respect for fairness, and to avoid burdening only a few in providing for the many. Taxation is a national competence, but the EU must also contribute to the fight against tax evasion. The EPP: