The Covid-19 pandemic is strongly affecting the Euro-Mediterranean region, creating new challenges and exacerbating pre-existing ones. The pandemic has highlighted fundamental weaknesses in institutions, economies and health systems. Civil society plays a key role in the reconstruction and resilience of the whole region.
Horizon 2020 was the EU's research and innovation funding programme for 2014-2020, with a budget of nearly €80 billion. The Commission intends to evaluate this programme in order to improve the implementation of current EU research and innovation measures and the design of future measures. It also fulfils the Commission’s legal obligation to explain how it has spent public funds (Article 32 of Regulation 1291/2013).
The directive on services in the Internal Market was designed to promote competitiveness, growth and employment in line with the Lisbon Strategy. It has, at the same time, triggered an intensive debate on the form to be taken by the freedom to provide services. The effects of the Directive on national labour markets, social conditions and consumer protection requirements remain a highly controversial issue.
The EESC highlights the potential of Euro-Mediterranean trade to contribute to sustainable development in the Euro-Mediterranean area and consequently encourages and supports the modernisation and extension of the bilateral Free Trade Agreements included in the eight Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements. The EESC considers that the post COVID-19 recovery provides a momentum for such a modernisation, especially as regards capitalising on the potential benefits of a reconfiguration of global value chains in favour of the Euro-Mediterranean area and in line with the new EU trade policy. In that context, the EESC thinks that a fresh impetus is necessary to relaunch the negotiations on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) with Morocco and Tunisia, as well as discussions with Egypt and Jordan.