The absence of economic and social convergence among Member States and regions is a threat to the political sustainability of the European project and all the benefits it has brought to European citizens. Developing economic and labour market resilience with economic, social, environmental and institutional sustainability should be the principle guiding policies. This will foster upwards convergence and fairness in the transition towards a climate-neutral economy while managing the challenges posed by digitalisation and demographic change.
Multiannual Financial Framework after 2020 - Related Opinions
The EESC notes that the international role of the euro has not yet recovered to the pre-financial crisis level. Whereas the European Commission's proposed measures are welcome and deemed necessary by the EESC, they may not go far enough given the extent of the euro area's social and economic challenges. Social cohesion, economic upward convergence and the promotion of competitiveness and innovation should be the basis on which the euro area's economy gathers pace and supports a stronger international role for the euro.
The opinion tables proposals on how to enhance the European project and bring it closer to its citizens.
The proposal for a Regulation (COM(2018) 366) is based on Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union: the EU pursues the goal
to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples, the EU
shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced. But there is a clear perception that the number of challenges to face is larger, in particular the competition from online platforms and search engines, the concentration of the sector around a limited number of big players, or the rise of disinformation. With this new programme, the EU Commission wants to offer opportunities for operators to develop technologically and artistically innovative European trans-border initiatives to exchange, co-create, co-produce, and distribute European works. The purpose is also to strengthen the position of EU actors in the EU and global markets.
The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) aims to prepare candidates and potential candidates for the rights and obligations of EU membership. First established for the 2007-2013 programming period, under the 2014–2020 MFF it is called IPA II. Its beneficiaries include the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Turkey. The proposed financial envelope for IPA III for the period 2021-2027 accounts for a 13 % increase compared to current IPA II funding, or €14.5 billion in current prices. The general objective of the IPA is to support EU aspirants to adopt and implement all reforms (political, institutional, legal, administrative, social and economic) required to comply with EU’s values and to progressively align to EU rules, standards policies and practices on their path towards EU membership.
This proposal is part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) outlined in the European Commission’s Communication ‘A modern Budget for a Union that Protects, Empowers and Defends – The Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027’. On 14 June 2018 the European Commission presented the budget for the external action of the European Union, which includes and the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and the European Instrument for Nuclear Safety.
The EU’s geopolitical context has changed dramatically in the last decade. The situation in its neighbouring regions is unstable and it faces a complex and challenging environment in which new threats, such as hybrid and cyber-attacks, are emerging, and more conventional challenges are returning.
EU citizens and their political leaders agree that the EU should collectively take more responsibility for its security. In the joint declaration of 25 March 2017 in Rome, leaders of 27 Member States and the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission stated the Union will strengthen its common security and defence and foster a more competitive and integrated defence industry.
The EESC notes that achieving clean energy is a high priority and to this end fusion energy is recognised as a potential long-term solution with Europe being at the forefront of developing fusion technologies which are carbon-free, sustainable and help secure our mix of energy supplies.
The EESC emphasises that the high level of long-term investment needed for the development of a fusion power plant does still entail some industrial risk, but in the event of success the realisation of a fusion power plant would be a newly introduced factor that would significantly change the existing energy supply by providing a disruptive innovation, with fusion fuel being abundant and virtually inexhaustible.
The EESC endorses the Commission's proposal and highlights the suggestions for future support put forward in the opinion.
The EESC does not suggest amending the proposal, but instead calls for closer monitoring of activities in areas raised in the opinion, particularly a sustainable development oriented approach in the choice of energy sources; proper consideration of the specific situation in Lithuania in particular, as well as in other countries concerned with regard to socio-economic aspects; dissemination throughout the EU of knowledge acquired in the area of dismantling and on the issue of training workers; safe and sustainable management of nuclear waste generated; and strengthening of performance indicators by including performance in relation to protecting workers from radiation.