German economy minister Michael Glos challenges the Commission’s powers to define which kinds of investments are relevant to the EU’s Jobs and Growth strategy.
In letters to Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner, to Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen and to Austrian Economy Minister Martin Bartenstein, German Minister of the Economy Michael Glos opposed the Commission’s definition of what is relevant for the Growth and Jobs strategy. “I consider it of utmost importance that the discretionary authority of member states and regions in this respect is not unduly limited,” Glos wrote in the letter, which EURACTIV has seen.
Glos says he shares “the position that European structural policy should contribute to achieving the Lisbon targets”. But, he adds, “in the last end, it will be the countries and the regions themselves who best know with which measures to boost the competitiveness of their regions.” He says that “promoting business investment is a core element of German structural policy”.
Glos stressed Germany’s horizontal structure, where those regions which were formerly part of Eastern Germany are still economically underdeveloped. He wrote that “only with the incentive of capital investment subsidies enterprises can be convinced to relocate to disadvantaged regions”.
Glos is a Conservative from the southern region of Bavaria, which borders to the Czech Republic. He pointed to the fact that neighbouring regions in the EU-10 countries do not have to earmark structural fund payments. “Too strong limits to investment subsidies in German regions would aggravate the already severe competition between locations in an intolerable manner.”
In a different letter to Verheugen and Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, German Labour and Social Affairs Minister Franz Müntefering has complained about the Commission’s classifying certain measures under the European Social Funds (ESF) as not being Lisbon-relevant. In the letter, which EURACTIV has seen, Müntefering – a Social Democrat from Central Germany, who shares part of his political history with Verheugen – cites activities such as the integration of migrants into the labour market and the promotion of social inclusion and of better compatibility of professional and family life.
Müntefering wrote: “As concerns the ESF, the Commission’s recent proposals will result in an unbalanced fencing-in of the reformed Lisbon strategy to concentrate all disposable resources on the targets of competitiveness, employment and social cohesion. Earmarking has built up an alarming amount of uncontrolled momentum. […]From a German point of view, this is leading us to a situation where the right balance between the different Lisbon targets is not warranted any more.”
He concluded: “My opinion is that the whole range of the ESF is ‘Lisbon-relevant’ and I would ask you to execrcise your influence in favour of a re-drafting of the Annex to take this notion into account.”