After five days of tough negotiations, the EU has reached a deal to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an unprecedented decision for volume, content and key elements of innovation. Europe, today, is stronger than ever.
Nevertheless, the needed extra-mile came at a sour price. For the first time, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) has decreased, also in real terms. The governance of the Resilience and Recovery Facility is all but consistent, with the European Parliament cut off, and the rebates increased, despite the UK's departure.
Tomorrow's EU-Western Balkans Summit can only underline once and for all that the effective enlargement of the European Union and the promotion of its values in the countries of the region ensure security, enhance social and economic development, consolidate democracy and the rule of law in Europe.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and its study group on the inclusion of the Roma join the call of Members from EU institutions as well as civil society organisations to raise concern over the worsening situation of marginalized communities, amongst them the Roma, during this difficult and uncertain period. We praise the volunteers and employees of Roma organisations for the invaluable work they are carrying out to continue assisting the Roma community in this challenging time, during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of today’s vote in the European Parliament on a strong resolution to set the tone for the meeting of Heads of state and government next week and in light of the solid package of measures proposed on 9 April by the Eurogroup to support the European economy last week, I am confident the EU has now more than ever the chance and the obligation to rise from its ashes like the Phoenix.
The response to the COVID-19 crisis has had a negative impact on a number of fundamental rights. The unavoidable lockdowns have restricted our freedom of movement and cross-border travel. Freedom of association and assembly have been cut, so have privacy rights through data tracking systems. What has been put in place as a temporary measure cannot be instrumentalised to revert decades-long fights for freedoms and equality. We must get out of this crisis with our democracies – and our European Union – intact.