Highlights of the European Economic and Social Committee's February plenary:
- 24 February, 2.45 pm Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, will bring the EESC up to speed on the Conference on the Future of Europe, which looks set to begin soon with the end of the stalemate over the presidency and the Council position out in the open.
- 25 February, 10 am Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Budget and Administration, will hear the findings of a pan-European EESC investigation into the Involvement of organised civil society in the national recovery and resilience plans – What works and what does not? An EESC resolution flagging areas where more civil society engagement would make for better national plans will be put to the vote straight after the debate.
- 25 February, 11 am The EESC plenary will review the Committee's role and action during the COVID-19 pandemic and celebrate the impressive solidarity demonstrated by civil society across Europe in its many forms through the winners of the EESC Civil Solidarity Prize.
Key opinions to be put to the vote:
- Asylum procedures under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum (SOC/670, rapporteur Panagiotis Gkofas – Diversity Europe, EL)
While praising some of the new instruments unveiled in the Pact as a positive contribution to more effective EU border security, the EESC fears they would be hard to implement. It expresses concern about the new border procedures and stresses that if "mandatory solidarity" does not take the form of "mandatory relocation" or if no procedures are in place to allow people to apply for asylum in Member States without crossing EU borders, the Asylum Procedure Regulation will not be operational in practice.
- Asylum management under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum (SOC/669, rapporteur Dimitris Dimitriadis – Employers, EL)
The EESC is encouraged by the recognition that solidarity should be compulsory in nature for the countries to be able to respond to all sorts of changing situations. However, what is proposed falls short of expectations for a solidarity mechanism that would really alleviate the burden of the countries of first entry. In its comments on the crisis and force majeure regulation, which it says could be offering a window of opportunity for binding solidarity, the EESC argues that that solidarity is in fact undermined by the complex and bureaucratic procedure required to implement it.
- A Renovation Wave for Europe (TEN/723, rapporteur Pierre Jean Coulon – Workers, FR; co-rapporteur Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu – Employers, RO)
The Committee addresses the future EU strategy on renovation and says that renovating buildings is a unique opportunity to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and make Europe more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. More
- Package for fair and simple taxation (ECO/531, rapporteur Krister Andersson – Employers, SE; co-rapporteur Javier Doz Orrit – Workers, ES)
Achieving fair and efficient taxation is one of the current Commission's main objectives. Such an objective is even more strategic in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.More
- Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 (ECO/537, rapporteur Krzysztof Balon – Diversity Europe, PL)
The European Semester kicks off its 2021 exercise with the publication of the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, where the Commission outlines the EU's economic and employment policy priorities. The Recovery and Resilience Facility is the key recovery instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU and is intrinsically linked to the European Semester. In the EESC's view, it is crucial for Member States to engage in broad policy dialogue with the social partners and all other relevant stakeholders when preparing their national recovery and resilience plans. More
- Digital Finance Strategy (ECO/534, rapporteur Petru Sorin Dandea – Workers, RO; co-rapporteur Jörg Freiherr Frank von Fürstenwerth – Employers, DE)
The EESC endorses the Commission's proposal on the Digital Finance Package and says that the major challenges facing the EU financial sector due to digitalisation must not be ignored; they must be addressed, for example by setting up an EU digital finance platform. More
- Crypto-assets and distributed ledger technology (ECO/535, rapporteur Giuseppe Guerini – Diversity Europe, IT)
The Committee backs the Commission's two initiatives on markets in crypto-assets and a pilot regime for market infrastructures based on distributed ledger technology (DLT), saying that the proposed action is urgently needed to regulate an increasingly widespread and fast changing technology. More
- Digital operational resilience (ECO/536, rapporteur Antonio García del Riego – Employers, ES)
Given the increasing dependency on software and digital processes, financial firms need to be able to cope with all kinds of threats and disruptions to information and communication technology (ICT). The EESC supports the Commission's proposal to bring in the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) to bring legal clarity on ICT risk provisions and reduce regulatory complexity. More
EESC plenary session
Jacques Delors building and online
24 February, 2.30 to 7 pm, 25 February, 10 am to 1 pm