When it comes to development and EU-Africa relations, the EESC consistently emphasised the importance of sustainable development and cooperation based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Initiatives focused on trade, investment and business relations with Africa could be welcomed, but not to the detriment of traditional development policies focusing on reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EU and Africa leaders agreed in 2015 at the Valletta summit on migration on setting up the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), as the main instrument of EU external migration policy. The Fund finances the development of border protection capacities, but also long-term development policy projects so as to decrease the likelihood of further migration.
Neighbourhood, Development and Cooperation instrument - Related Opinions
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the proposal for a regulation for the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) research and training programme 2021-2025.
The EESC considers the EURATOM budget to be proportionate to the objectives set and considers it essential to maintain this financial allocation regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The Committee also considers it crucial in this respect to manage the United Kingdom's exit from the Euratom programme with the utmost care, particularly with regard to research already in progress, shared infrastructure and the social impact on staff (e.g. working conditions) both on British soil and elsewhere.
Europeans need more (and better) Europe. The powers and financial resources currently allocated to the EU have been increasingly misaligned with the concerns and expectations of Europeans. The EESC, in accordance with the European Parliament's position, therefore proposes that the expenditure and revenue figure reach 1.3% of GNI. The proposed level of commitments of 1.11% of the EU's GNI is too modest to credibly deliver on the political agenda of the EU.
The EESC recognises the high European added value of the programmes where the MFF 2021-2027 concentrates the main increases in expenditure. However, the Committee questions the fact that these increases are made at the cost of strong cuts in cohesion policy (-10%) and the Common Agricultural Policy – CAP (-15%).
L’année 2017 sera décisive pour le partenariat entre l’Europe et l’Afrique. Dans un paysage mondial en mutation rapide, l’Afrique connaît de profonds changements économiques, politiques et sociaux, et l’importance qu’elle revêt pour les dimensions intérieure et extérieure de la sécurité et de la prospérité de l’Europe est de plus en plus évidente. L’Europe et l’Afrique ont tout à gagner d’un renforcement de leurs liens politiques et économiques, mais elles ont aussi beaucoup à perdre si elles n’agissent pas.
In order to continue the funding of nuclear research and training it is necessary to adopt a new regulation to prolong all research activities carried out under Council Regulation (Euratom) No 1314/2013. The Euratom programme proposal for 2019-2020 continues to complement the Horizon 2020 programme.
In accordance with Article 7 of the Euratom Treaty, the current (2014-2018) Euratom programme is bound by a five-year timeframe. The present proposal intends to ensure the seamless continuation of the programme in 2019-2020. This approach will ensure greater coherence with the Horizon 2020 timeline. This is all the more important in view of the fact that the Euratom programmes and Horizon 2020 pursue mutually reinforcing objectives.
The 2030 Agenda, the new global framework for sustainable development agreed by the UN in 2015, needs to be reflected in EU's development policy, the major orientations of which are set out in the 2005 European Consensus on Development ("the Consensus").
To this end, the Commission issued Communication COM(2016) 740, "Proposal for a New European Consensus on Development: Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future" in November 2016. Interinstitutional negotiations are expected to result in its endorsement in the form of a Joint Statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, in May 2017.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the establishment of the European External Investment Plan (EIP) and the proposal for a Regulation on the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and establishing the EFSD Guarantee and the EFSD Guarantee Fund as steps in the right direction towards tackling the causes of irregular migration at its roots. The eradication of poverty is also a goal on which the EFSD should focus. The Committee calls for a particular focus on resolving the situation in the countries that are the main source of migration where economic, social and security conditions have led to economic devastation and spiralling poverty while blocking any efforts towards sustainable development.
The PINC (the nuclear illustrative programme) does not offer a clear and comprehensive approach to how the complex future of nuclear power in the European energy mix can be strategically addressed. The Committee urges the Commission to propose a clear analytical process and methodology which can offer a consistent, voluntary framework for national decision-making about the role – if any – of nuclear power in the energy mix. The EESC is therefore calling for revisions and additions to the draft communication, covering aspects of competitiveness of nuclear power, security of supply, climate change and carbon targets, public acceptability, transparency and effective national dialogue.
The Committee would also like to see further references being made to extensive work on off-site and cross-border preparation for emergencies. The implications of the Brexit vote and a road map illustrating nuclear fusion progress should also be covered by the Commission document.
With this Opinion, the EESC wishes to weigh in on the new EU Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, which is expected to be presented to the Council before the summer. The rapporteur argues that internal and external policy are intertwined and both require better coordination of policies, objectives and resources. Social exclusion today is a key factor in crises, and the EU must be a defender of equality and a promoter of freedom, security and prosperity.
The Opinion goes on to address the wide range and crucial nature of topics that the new strategy will cover, such as resource allocation to foreign and defense policy, the EU's role as a constructive and regulatory power, the refugee crisis, development cooperation, or trade.