Obama’s American Jobs Act urgently needs to be matched by a European Jobs and Growth pact, said Phil Prendergast, Labour MEP for Ireland South, in the European Parliament.
Speaking from Brussels at a plenary debate on the on the American Jobs Act, Mrs. Prendergast, a member of the powerful Internal Market committee and the EP delegation to the United States, said: “US President Obama’s proposal for an American Jobs Act contains many policy initiatives which sorely lack a European equivalent.
“His proposals include funding to prevent teacher and emergency responder layoffs, set up an infrastructure bank, further investment in transport and communications infrastructure, and in school and housing rehabilitation and refurbishing.
“Cuts to labour and payroll taxes as well as the extension of 100% tax deductions on capital investment for business throughout 2012 are also contemplated, along with measures to facilitate the uptake of unemployed and young workers.
“However, the right-wing in blocked them in the US Senate this week, in a stance paralleled in Europe by the “six-pack”, austerity only approach to the severe economic crisis we are experiencing.
“European Commission President Barroso’s recent State of the Union address to the European Parliament demonstrated an encouraging grasp of the state of our economies and sense of urgency.
“Now he has to match it with an equally encouraging, EU-wide policy impulse to create the conditions for robust growth and employment creation, mirroring, at least, President Obama’s impetus.
“Just as echoed in the German press, Ireland’s export strengths can turn into weaknesses during European, and global, economic slowdown periods, and high unemployment rates painfully hinder private demand.
“The right EU community approach can deliver growth, and it requires bold policy initiatives the Commission alone has the key to.
“The pre-crisis economic mindset will not get us out of it. Progressive forces across the Atlantic know it. Obama knows it. It is time for the right wing in both the Senate and the Council of the EU to face it and come to terms with it, for growth’s sake.
“Of course the “Buy American”* provision enshrined in the American Jobs Act, which emulates Obama’s approach in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is understandable in the face of US unemployment figures, but protectionism is not the way out of the economic woes afflicting us on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Through my work in the internal market committee and the EP delegation to the US, including on a recent report on barriers to trade and investment, I have emphasised the untapped benefits of further transatlantic market integration. There is much work to be done to improve the interoperability of our communications networks and to facilitate our SMEs’ access to the transatlantic markets.
“Regulatory cooperation between the EU and the US from the moment we plan laws and regulations is still a budding effort and this way we could prevent many unintended trade barriers.
“We are far more likely to spur growth and job creation if we work together, rather than retrenching in a sad repetition of post-great depression protectionism.”