In 2018, the EESC adopted an Opinion on "The Union's budget and the rule of law" (SOC/598) in which it supported the principle of corrective measures regarding Member States that commit serious violations of the rule of law in Europe. In the present Own-Initiative Opinion, the EESC insists on the actual implementation of Regulation (EU) 2020/2092 "on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget". The EESC demands the imposition of swift and comprehensive sanctions for breaches of the rule of law which put the Union's budget at risk. It also recalls the importance for Member States to integrate measures to strengthen the rule of law in their recovery programmes. The EESC also supports a stronger role for the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and civil society in the area.
563rd Plenary session 22-23 September 2021 - Related Opinions
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Member States prepared their recovery and resilience plans that set out a coherent package of reforms and public investment projects. To benefit from the support of the Facility, these reforms and investments should be implemented by 2026.
EESC opinion: The role of cohesion policy in combatting inequalities in the new programming period after the COVID-19 crisis. Complementarities and possible overlaps with the RRF and the national recovery plans (Own-initiative opinion)
The EESC is pleased that the proposal puts health, safety and fundamental rights at its centre and is global in scope. In line with its long advocated "human-in-command" approach to AI, the EESC strongly recommends that the AIA provide for certain decisions to remain the prerogative of humans.
This opinion, based on a referral by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, aims at presenting the key elements of sustainable quality work during and after recovery. The EESC considers quality of work as one of the fundamental components of quality of life. The principle of quality of work for quality of life must be followed, as this is a prerequisite for sustainable social development. The EESC therefore firmly believes that it should be given special attention in EU policies, as it must prevent the risks of inequality, poverty, social exclusion and unfair competition. The EESC notes that the Recovery and Resilience Facility does not directly address the components of quality work, and therefore calls on the Commission to supplement this part of the facility. Vulnerable groups, such as precarious and young workers, who have been hit hardest by the epidemic, should not be overlooked.
The upcoming Slovenian Presidency of the EU has requested the Committee to draw up an exploratory opinion on the effective achievement of the Directive’s objectives in practice, on Member States’ best practices in regulating the agri-food chain, as well as on the steps needed so that this process does not come to a halt.
The EESC is deeply aware of the horror of human trafficking and the harmful consequences for its victims and supports all measures to fight and eradicate it. It supports the intention to establish minimum standards at EU level that criminalise the networks involved in trafficking and exploiting human beings, and the use of services arising from the exploitation of trafficking victims. The EESC proposes that involvement of CSOs and social partners be incorporated into the Strategy and that these organisations be properly supported.
This opinion seeks to analyse the impact of the emergency measures aimed at limiting unemployment, supporting income and helping businesses, with a particular focus on the SURE instrument. The EESC considers SURE as a positive and innovative financial instrument which delivers on European solidarity to preserve jobs, provide income support to workers and support businesses, as well as a tool for integration and socio-economic resilience in the EU. It is proposed that a SURE observatory is set up for as long as the financial instrument is in operation, involving the social partners and other civil society organisations. The EESC also fully acknowledges the positive results of SURE highlighted in the Commission's report of March 2021 and endorses the proposal for its stabilisation in support of workers and businesses as a tool for the EU's integration and socio-economic resilience in times of crisis such as the current one.
The EESC welcomes this revised coordinated plan and calls for its expedited implementation by all stakeholders playing their part.
In this opinion, the EESC recalls that media freedom, including the safety and security of journalists, and media pluralism are cornerstones of liberal democracy. It therefore notes with regrets that the developments within the EU are alarming and calls for urgent steps by Member States and the EU, including through the use of the new general regime of budget conditionality. The EESC welcomes the broad range of reports and initiatives by the European Parliament and the Commission, including the Commission's plan for a "European Media Freedom Act". It also supports measures to increase the safety of journalists and underlines the necessity of a legal ban on Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). The EESC supports the idea of a European Agency to bolster media skills of EU citizens through educational programmes. It also proposes the creation of a fully independent European public service broadcaster.
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