ollowing the publication of the European Commission's country-specific recommendations, S&D Group leader Hannes Swoboda made this statement:
"Today's report amounts to a confession of grave mistakes. The European Commission is at last facing reality but is still refusing to draw the logical conclusions and change its course.
"What human and financial resources have been lost through austerity? The current policies have created a disastrous situation for people.
"But a reprieve of one or two years to reach the 3% deficit target for some member states will not make a big difference. No rescue will come unless we can put the EU back on the path to sustainable growth.
"The EU needs to shift from a short-term to a long-term fiscal consolidation process – over 10-15 years – based on a strong growth strategy in order to reverse the tide of rising unemployment.
"Action by individual countries is not enough. We need a real growth policy on a European scale. Member states must be allowed room for manoeuvre to invest and the Council needs to act to implement the growth pact agreed a year ago.
"We are convinced that lower salaries and pensions cuts are not the right recipe to gain competitiveness. The EU needs to invest in innovation, research, education, energy and new technologies to get the European economy back to growth. This is the only way to exit the crisis.
"On labour market reforms, we believe that flexibility must be increased, but workers' rights must be protected at the same time. All labour market reforms should be agreed through an active social partnership, with the involvement of all workers' representatives."