Left to right: Stefano Palmieri, Javier Doz Orrit, Brikena Xhomaqi, Luca Jahier, Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, Dragoș Pîslaru

During its annual conference in June, the European Semester Group (ESG) renewed its call for civil society participation and proposed a permanent and common investment financing mechanism to enhance crisis preparedness and response capacity.

The conference followed on from the recent Committee resolution to discuss the reform of the European Semester, which will be overseeing the implementation of the national recovery and resilience plans (NRRPs). "With the new challenges facing the EU, the European Semester needs to be updated, strengthened, and opened up to European organised civil society", explained ESG vice-president Gonçalo Lobo Xavier.

Opening the conference, EESC president Christa Schweng reaffirmed that that ''civil society has a crucial role for the Europe of tomorrow'', while Elisa Ferreira, commissioner for cohesion and reforms, said: "as we think about future crises, we need to think in terms not of one master tool, but of many tools and a well-stocked toolbox. We need diversification."

The EU will need massive investments in the years to come. The panellists discussed whether these recovery plans should be made structural and permanent to ensure common investment in key areas. "Europe needs energy independence", stated Javier Doz Orrit, president of the European Semester Group, while president of the Section for Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECO), Stefano Palmieri, insisted on the need to "ensure a structural transformation of the system."

Luca Jahier, vice-president of the European Semester Group, closed the conference by acknowledging the importance of the RRF and the NRRPs. "With these tools, we have done more in these last two years than in the last 20 years", he said. "We now need to ensure the participation of organised civil society, invest more and accelerate the transition." (tk)