Howlin secures agreement of EU leaders for reexamination of fiscal rules

03 December 2016

At a meeting of the leaders of socialist, social democratic and labour parties from across the EU in Prague last night, an agreement was reached to kick-start a process of reexamining the stability and growth pact, and the fiscal rules that flow from it.

The proposal was made by Labour leader Brendan Howlin, who said:

“We need to make investments which can be felt by citizens across Europe, investments that makes a noticeable difference to people’s lives. We are currently too constrained from doing so, in my view, by the stability and growth pact and the resulting fiscal rules that our countries agreed to a few short years ago.

“In the main, this is because what the rules require of our states is that we measure fiscal performance, but not social measures. Why do we have a set of rules that measure our debt to GDP ratio, but don’t require any routine monitoring of basic poverty levels? Why do we focus on medium-term objectives, but not on the health of our environment or of our people?

“The Financial and Economic Network of the PES will now be tasked with drafting a report on this matter, to be considered by the leaders when we reconvene. They will propose a set of adjustments to the stability and growth pact – not changes that would undermine fiscal discipline, but changes that would add an urgency to investment in our societies, and would place the monitoring of our social good on a par with the strength of our economies.

“As the leaders of progressive political parties who are battling against populism and extremism all across the continent, we have an urgent need to spell out a genuine vision for how we can deliver a shared prosperity and truly sustainable growth. I am glad to have secured agreement last night on a measure that might help us take a significant step in that direction.”


Notes to editors:

The Party of European Socialists is an umbrella organisation representing socialist, social democratic and labour parties from all 28 EU member states and Norway. There are 33 member parties, with the full list available at:

The PES Council is taking place in Prague this weekend, with over 1,000 activists from all across Europe debating the policies needed to reinvigorate social democracy across Europe. The leaders of the parties met on Friday night to discuss Brexit, ways to promote sustainable growth, and the leadership of the EU institutions.

The attendees at the leaders meeting included Bohuslav Subotka (Prime Minister of Czech Republic), Sergei Stanishev (PES President and former Prime Minister of Bulgaria), Sigmar Gabriel (Vice Chancellor of Germany), Jeremy Corbyn (Leader of the UK Labour Party), Elio di Rupo (former Prime Minister of Belgium) and Colum Eastwood (Leader of the SDLP).

The PES Leaders will meet again in London at the end of February, to explicitly focus on Brexit.

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