While the recovery after COVID-19 crisis is a top priority, the EESC stresses that this should not steer the EU away from its medium and long-term objectives, as outlined in the European Green Deal, 2020 Sustainable Growth Strategy, and the European Pillar for Social Rights. There is a need for a resilient, technology-driven European economy that is defined by the protection of the environment. The EESC underlines that strategies aimed at enhanced economic sustainability need to be developed around productivity, but they cannot be allowed to happen at the expense of workers' rights and social development. The EESC advocates for re-thinking supply chains, underlines that social aspects should be emphasised, start-ups should be encouraged and that the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth in the EU should be the creation and development of a truly circular economy. Open dialogue with social partners and civil society remains key to setting the economic direction.
The Covid-19 impact is having a profound and unprecedented impact and Europe needs to respond with a strong, social, sustainable and inclusive EU Recovery Plan that will support companies and people. The upcoming early EU Trade Strategy review needs to draw important lessons from this crisis. The EU is not self-sufficient and depends on access to international markets. It needs resilient, diversified and responsible Global supply chains. Stronger instruments need to deliver on a sustainable trade and investment agenda in all its dimensions. It needs to be consistent with the Green Deal and show equal ambition on the effective implementation and enforcement of labour provisions. European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recommendations made in a series of recent and ongoing key opinions on EU trade must inform this strategy review.
The annual Union work programme for European standardisation for 2020 identifies priorities for European standardisation. The EESC agrees with the Commission that standardisation is crucial to the strategy for the single market and that it should be constantly updated. Moreover, the EESC considers that there is an urgent need to modernise the European standardisation system to meet global challenges with an innovative process of cooperation.
This exploratory opinion of the incoming Croatian Presidency should concentrate on the question, how the achievements and advantages of the Single Market could be better presented to the citizens and businesses in order to ensure their support in further efforts towards developing a comprehensive and long-term Single Market strategy for the future.
The transition to a low-carbon economy is the EU's goal and obligation and the EU committed itself to implement this transition in a socially just and cost-effective manner. It is thus important to examine all the feasible ways of financing climate neutrality, and possibly find new and innovative financing models in the near future.