COVID-19: European Structural and Investment Funds - Exceptional flexibility

EESC opinion: COVID-19: European Structural and Investment Funds - Exceptional flexibility

Key points


  • warmly welcomes the fact that the European Commission has responded by establishing adjusted and efficient means of providing financial support to tackle the COVID-19 situation. Also recognizes that the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 outbreak continue to increase in all Member States and that further action is therefore required;
  • stresses the need for an immediate and effective response through all means possible. It is therefore necessary to go beyond what has already been agreed and provide exceptional, additional flexibility to respond to the current unprecedented situation, which led to the activation of the general escape clause under the Stability and Growth Pact;
  • strongly welcomes the temporary possibility of 100% co-financing from the EU budget for the implementation of cohesion policy programmes. The possibility of additional transfers between the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund, as well as between categories of regions, are also similarly welcomed;
  • emphasizes that, during this crisis, the solvency of businesses, including social and health service providers, is fast becoming a very important issue, especially as the shutdown of the economy is set to continue and given the uncertain economic outlook. In this context, welcomes the new provisions to allow the ERDF to provide support to businesses and employment undertakings;
  • welcomes the proposal of the Commission to exempt Member States from the need to comply with thematic concentration requirements, allowing them the possibility to redirect their resources to the areas most impacted by the current crisis. It also welcomes the provision to allow exceptional expenditure for completed or fully implemented operations fostering crisis response capacity in the coronavirus outbreak to be eligible;
  • urges the Commission to encourage Member States to eliminate all possible administrative burden, both on national and European public administrations, so that energy can be focused on dealing with the problems relating to the epidemic. In this context, the EESC also stresses the need to more actively involve the social partners at EU and national level;
  • acknowledges that all possible measures should be taken under the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) (2014-2020). In this context, agrees with the intention of the Commission to amend the MFF Regulation so that the flexibility instrument and the contingency margin can be used for dealing with the epidemic;
  • urges the Commission to develop and propose to the other EU institutions a EU recovery plan commensurate with the needs and in line with the EU's priorities, using all the programmes of a revised MFF 2021-2027, adding new innovative financial tools, in order to overcome the effects of COVID-19 on our societies and economies;
  • calls upon the Council and the European Parliament to swiftly approve the Regulation so that it can be adopted as soon as possible.


COVID-19: European Structural and Investment Funds - Exceptional flexibility