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The Europe Area Growing Confidence

EU Reporter Correspondent



In January the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 1.4 points in both the EU (to 90.6) and the euro area (to 89.2)1. In the EU, confidence improved in services, construction, retail trade and among consumers, while deteriorating slightly in industry. In the euro area, confidence picked up in construction, services and among consumers and remained broadly unchanged in industry and retail trade. In both regions, the ESI rose for the third consecutive month but remains well below its long-term average.Among the seven largest EU Member States, the ESI registered increases in Germany (+2.5), the Netherlands (+1.0), Spain (+0.5) and the UK (+0.5). It remained unchanged in Italy and broadly stable in France (‑0.3), while deteriorating in Poland (-1.3).

Confidence in industry deteriorated slightly in the EU (-0.5) and remained broadly stable in the euro area (+0.3). The benign development in the euro area is due to more positive assessments of stocks of finished products and better production expectations, while the assessment of the current level of overall order books deteriorated. In the EU, the decline in confidence was driven by more negative assessments of stocks of finished products and current levels of overall order books, while production expectations remained unchanged. In both areas, the current level of export order books was assessed markedly more negatively. Managers' assessment of their companies' past production improved slightly in the euro area and remained unchanged in the EU.

Confidence in services increased (markedly) in the EU (+3.7) and the euro area (+1.0), fuelled by higher demand expectations and a better assessment of the past business situation. Managers' views on past demand improved in the EU and remained broadly stable in the euro area. Confidence in retail trade increased in the EU (+0.8) and remained broadly unchanged in the euro area (+0.3). In the EU, business expectations improved and the volume of stocks was seen more positively while the perceived present business situation remained broadly stable. In the euro area, the strong increase in the expected business situation more than offset the more negative assessments of the current volume of stocks and present business situation. Confidence in the construction sector improved markedly in both the EU (+3.9) and the euro area (+4.6). In both areas, the increase was driven by both components of the confidence indicator, i.e. order books and employment expectations.

Employment prospects were assessed less pessimistically across all sectors in both regions. However, for industry and services in the euro area, improvements were minor. Selling price expectations decreased in both regions and across sectors except for EU retailers, who envisaged price increases.

Consumer confidence increased in both the EU (+2.0) and the euro area (+2.4). These developments are underpinned by all components. In both regions, pessimism about the future general economic situation and unemployment trends eased significantly and respondents' expectations about their households' financial situation and their savings over the next 12 months improved.

Confidence in financial services, which is not included in the ESI, increased in both the EU (+1.0) and the euro area (+2.6). The increases were driven mainly by improved assessments of past demand and significantly better demand expectations. Managers' assessment of the past business situation improved in the euro area and deteriorated in the EU.

In the quarterly survey of the manufacturing industry, carried out in January, industrial managers in the EU and the euro area reported no changes in the number of months of production assured by orders on hand compared with the previous survey carried out in October. However, their assessment of new orders was much more positive and export volume expectations were significantly higher. Managers' appraisal of their competitive position on foreign markets outside the EU improved in the EU but deteriorated in the euro area. The balance of managers reporting more than sufficient, rather than insufficient, production capacity decreased. Accordingly, capacity utilisation improved slightly, to 77.6% in the EU and 77.2% in the euro area.


Anna van Densky


Cities call for new EU pact for just and sustainable recovery

EU Reporter Correspondent



Social inequalities are deepening. Homelessness and unemployment rates are shooting upwards, and new groups of people have emerged as at risk of poverty and social exclusion. City leaders from around 70 cities, meeting today, one day ahead of the EU Social Summit, have called for a new pact between all levels of government to reverse these dangerous trends and foster a just, sustainable and inclusive recovery.

“As city leaders, we have stepped up our responsibilities to implement social policy and guarantee public social investment over the past 12 months,” said Dario Nardella, president of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence. “But the recovery we now face will take bold actions and imagination to build back better and fairer. Despite repeated calls, many cities are still not consulted in the national recovery plans. That’s a lost opportunity that the EU cannot afford at this time, which will dampen Europe’s ability to bounce back. Without cities, the prospects for a sustainable and inclusive recovery look grim.”

In their conclusions, the city leaders say that the EU social targets for 2030 should be matched by ambitious reforms and investments. Specifically:

  • An annual social summit on the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan, with a meaningful participation from cities.
  • A strong social dimension in the European Green Deal.
  • Strengthen social investment and investment in social infrastructure, including social and affordable housing, as the way to deliver a just recovery, leaving no one behind.

“A new pact must commit the different levels of government to design a recovery response that works for people and planet. When so many people have been so badly affected this year, especially in our cities, now is the time to lend a helping hand, not to turn our backs,” added Nardella.

Cities have already demonstrated their commitment to implementing the European pillar of Social Rights through the 66 city pledges to the Eurocities ‘Inclusive Cities 4 All’ initiative, which have so far mobilised a total of €15bn in municipal investments for social causes.

“We are ready to do even more and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the EU and member states,” concluded Nardella. “In turn, we expect European leaders to engage us as key partners in the EU agenda for recovery.”

“We must use the recovery to prioritise the needs of people through our investments in green and digital reforms!  At the local level we see that social and environmental policies are interrelated,” said Maarten van Ooijen, Chair of Eurocities Social Affairs Forum and Deputy Mayor of Utrecht. “Cities can ensure that people are skilled to match green job opportunities, and we can develop local pacts by bringing together local businesses and training providers. We also need to avoid further deepening of the housing crisis in our cities. With urgent support from the national and EU institutions we can ensure a just recovery through targeted long term social investments in affordable housing” he concluded.

Dario Nardella, President of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence, will deliver the conclusions from the Cities Social Summit directly to European leaders at the EU Social Summit on Friday 7 May 2021.

  1. The following city leaders took part directly in the Eurocities Cities Social Summit, held on 6 May: Dario Nardella, President of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence; Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona; Ricardo Rio, Mayor of Braga; Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council; Katrin Habenschaden, Mayor of Munich; Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris; Rui Moreira, Mayor of Porto; Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam; Maarten van Ooijen, Chair of Social Affairs Forum and Deputy Mayor of Utrecht; Sonia Fuertes, Commissioner for Social Action, Barcelona; Matteo Lepore, Deputy Mayor of Bologna; Elke Decruynaere, Vice-mayor of Ghent, responsible for education and youth; David McDonald, Deputy Leader of Glasgow; Thomas Fabian, Deputy Mayor of Leipzig; Renaud Payre, Vice President on habitat, social housing and urban policy of Lyon Metropole; André Sobczak, Deputy Mayor of Nantes; Alexandra Sußmann, Vice Mayor, Stuttgart; Betina Beśkina, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn; Marina Hanke, Vice-chair of Committee on European affairs, Vienna; Nina Abrahamzik, Councillor and Chair of the Committee on climate, environmental policy, public services and democracy of Vienna.
  2. The full conclusions from the Eurocities Cities Social Summit can be accessed here  
  3. Eurocities is running a campaign ‘Inclusive Cities 4 All’ engaging mayors and deputy mayors to commit to improve access to social rights, including childcare services and support for children. So far, 66 city commitments have been signed, representing 51 million citizens and totalling a municipal investment of €15bn. All city pledges are available here.
  4. Eurocities wants to make cities places where everyone can enjoy a good quality of life, is able to move around safely, access quality and inclusive public services and benefit from a healthy environment. We do this by networking almost 200 larger European cities, which together represent some 130 million people across 39 countries, and by gathering evidence of how policy making impacts on people to inspire other cities and EU decision makers.

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European Globalization Adjustment Fund: helping redundant workers

EU Reporter Correspondent



Parliament has updated the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, making it more accessible and better equipped to tackle global crises.

The European Globalization Adjustment Fund is one of the ways the EU is helping to tackle unemployment. Globalization can cause significant structural changes to world trade, which can lead to workers being laid off.

To support people losing their jobs due to globalisation or the economic fallout from major crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU created the European Globalization Adjustment Fund in 2006. It is an emergency solidarity fund, which is used whenever there is a need for it. The fund co-finances projects to help workers find new jobs or set up their own business.

Find out what the EU does to manage globalization MEPs secured these changes to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: 

  • Threshold for applications for support lowered to 200 dismissed workers (down from 500) 
  • Possibility to apply for a one-time investment of €22,000 to start a business or to finance employee take-overs 
  • Childcare allowance for child carers when taking part in training or looking for a job 

On 16 January 2019, MEPs voted in favour of plans to reform the fund for the post-2020 period. The aim was to broaden the fund's scope to offer assistance in case of major restructuring events linked to digitalisation, automation and the transition to a low-carbon economy. After successfully negotiating the changes to the fund with the Council in December 2020, MEPs adopted the regulation in April 2021.

The fund will be crucial in helping dismissed workers during these difficult times. It is now better equipped to help us face the challenges ahead and it will cover any type of redundancies following restructuring

Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D, Lithuania)

MEP in charge of steering the proposals through Parliament Share this quote: 

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Commission extends flexibilities of Common Agricultural Policy checks for 2021

EU Reporter Correspondent



With restrictions still in place across the EU, the Commission has adopted rules to extend to 2021 flexibilities for carrying out checks required for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support. The rules allow the replacement of on-farm visits with the use of alternative sources of evidence, including new technologies such as satellite imagery or geo-tagged photos. This will ensure reliable checks while respecting the restriction of movement and minimizing physical contact between farmers and inspectors.

Furthermore, the rules include flexibility around timing requirements for checks. This allows member states to postpone checks, notably to a period when movement restrictions are lifted. In addition, the rules comprise a reduction of the number of physical on-the-spot checks to be carried out for area and animal-related measures, rural development investments and market measures. These rules aim to ease the administrative burden of national paying agencies by adapting to current circumstances while still ensuring necessary controls for CAP support. More information on the CAP's management and control systems is available here. More information is also available here.

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