Reform and investment proposals and their implementation in the Member States – what is the opinion of organised civil society? (2023-2024 European Semester cycle)

Key points

The EESC:

  • affirms that the incorporation of the Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) in the Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs) has increased the awareness of the CSRs and improved their implementation ratio, although a lot remains to be done to fully achieve the plans;
  • underlines that the double lessons learned (in the logic of such RRPs based on performances and of reinforced national ownership) should become a key element for the implementation of the new economic governance rules and the future European Semester;
  • stresses that the new flexibility introduced in the economic governance review and the medium-long term perspective of the scheduled national fiscal-structural plans, could be more effective in encouraging needed reforms and investments, and that this would have three conditions: (i) having enough fiscal space at national level ­– allowing for a sufficient level of investment, including social investment – (ii) a maximum degree of spending of all existing EU funds, and (iii) a more solid process, realising the potential of the planned national ownership;
  • believes that strengthening the national ownership by a closer involvement of national parliaments, regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society, needs clearer provisions in EU and national formal proceeding of implementing the new economic governance framework;
  • calls for a formal, permanent and structured consultation process in which national governments work closely with authorities at all levels and in partnership with trade unions, employers, CSOs and other responsible bodies throughout the whole cycle of preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the political process;
  • calls for clear criteria on what should be included in green and social investments in the years to come, to guide Member States in the formulations of their fiscal-structural plans;
  • reiterates its call that, in due course and by 2026 at the latest, the European Commission and co-legislators define new financial instruments needed at EU level to support the financing of strategic common goods, namely the newly announced EU sovereign funds, new own resources, own fiscal (financial) capacity, the next Multiannual Financial Framework, etc, and that in this context, a reinforced role of the EIB in leveraging private investments and improving private-public partnership will be also crucial.