Through this opinion, requested by the German Presidency of the Council, the EESC recognises the essential role of smoothly functioning public services in defending core EU values. The opinion highlights their particular role in times of crisis, like COVID-19, which calls for the maximum human and financial support. The EESC proposes common European principles to support the role of public services in defence of democracy. They include the principles of neutrality, legality, proportionality, equal treatment and transparency; the right to good administration; independent oversight; the protection of public services staff against decisions breaching the rule of law; accessibility; interoperability; and the respect of the rule of law including when receiving EU funds.
Grundlæggende rettigheder og borgerrettigheder - Related Opinions
The EESC strongly supports the Commission's proposal – Next Generation EU – as a specific tool for a quick and effective recovery.
The EESC takes a very positive view of the Commission's two main decisions:
- to introduce an extraordinary financial recovery instrument as part of the multiannual financial framework
- to raise common debt, which will be repaid over a long period of time, and prevent the extraordinary financial burden from falling directly on the Member States in the short run.
The EESC strongly welcomes the fact that the newly proposed instrument should be closely coordinated with the European Semester process, and furthermore welcomes the Commission's proposal to introduce additional genuine own resources based on different taxes (revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System, digital taxation, large companies' revenues).
The EU's demographic situation requires a holistic approach that embraces social and economic policies, active labour market and cohesion policies, policies supporting families, measures for ageing workers etc. The best answer to the labour drain related to internal migration is the social and economic upward convergence of Member States. The COVID-19 crisis will strongly affect the policies on demographic challenges. We need urgent measures to protect citizens from the negative effects of this crisis.
Liberal democracy relies on civil liberties and a pluralistic civil society, but considerable political forces in today's Europe are challenging liberal democracy. The social, political and legal framework must allow for a pluralistic civil society. Strong social partners and civil society are needed to defend EU values. The EESC calls for the creation of a Democracy Semester, a European control mechanism, corrective economic measures for non-respect of fundamental EU values, the creation of a European statute for CSOs, or interinstitutional CSO authorisation and, tax incentives to support civil society. Burning social questions must be tackled, ensuring social sustainability and inclusive education.
The EESC supports the objectives of the Commission proposal and agrees that democracy is one of the fundamental values on which the EU is founded. The EESC recognises that the procedures for the elections of the EP are Member State governed within the EU framework. Enabling the Authority for European political parties and European political foundations (the 'Authority') to impose sanctions is one way of ensuring personal data is protected and not misused for political gain. The EESC supports the additional staffing of the Authority with a view that this staff will be better positioned to work with the national DPAs to ensure that data protection infringements are properly investigated and where found sanctions applied.
The EESC welcomes the Commission proposal on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online, while calling for the indeterminate legal concepts such as "terrorist information, terrorist acts, terrorist groups or advocacy of terrorism" to be defined as precisely as possible. The EESC highlights the need to assess the effects of the application of this proposal on SMEs, as well as to consider transition arrangements facilitating their adaptation and a level playing field.
The EESC agrees with the need to allocate more resources to operational and preventive security-related actions and programmes and supports the creation of a flexible and transparent fund – distributing resources according to clear and predictable operational criteria and objectives – in order to strengthen them. The Security Fund should be designed so as to strengthen a preventive policy, which requires active engagement and cooperation with civil society, especially in terms of caring for and making arrangements for victims, auditing security actors, and preventing radicalisation. Grants from the Fund – in the case of both EU Member States and third countries – must only go to public institutions that can effectively ensure that human rights will be strictly upheld.