EU Urges Members to Address Inequality as Economy Recovers


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The European Union urged member states Monday to take advantage of the bloc’s recovering economy to strengthen their public finances and push through reforms that tackle social inequality.

The advice came in economic policy guidance for the bloc’s 28 member states that was published by the European Commission. It recommended “boosting investment, pursuing structural reforms and ensuring responsible fiscal policies.”

The advice aims to address social pressures seen as fueling a wave of nationalist populism throughout Europe that is tearing at the fabric of the bloc.

Tackling inequality “is firmly at the heart of our assessment. We have turned the page of the crisis: the next chapter is social,” EU Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said.

The commission stressed that economic growth in the EU and the 19 nations that use the euro currency was close to 2 percent in 2016 as public finances recovered. It said employment reached a record of nearly 233 million people, with unemployment at its lowest level since 2009.

“With the economy moving forward, we need to restore opportunities for those left behind and keep pace with changing skills needs by investing in high quality education and training,” Thyssen said. “Productivity increases should be reflected by higher wages.”

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