”Talous- ja rahaliitto, taloudellinen ja sosiaalinen yhteenkuuluvuus” jaosto (ECO) - Related Opinions
The focus of current informal discussions in the Council is on how cohesion policy can adjust to the new circumstances following the unforeseen shocks that Europe has faced in the last years without losing its long-term development goals. The Spanish Presidency refers to "Cohesion policy 2.0" in this context, which particularly means that cohesion policy needs to be transformed and become more modern and flexible. Also, it will need to take into account the RRF which will come to an end at some time.
Every year in February, the EESC adopts an opinion on Annual Sustainable Growth Survey, which the Commission usually presents at the end of November in the year before. The Committee works under tight deadlines, in anticipation of the referral, to finalise the opinion before the March Council discussion on the topic. To reinforce the Committee's impact throughout the entire European Semester, an own-initiative opinion with additional considerations is regularly produced by October taking into account the overall European Semester, which plays a central role in implementing the Recovery and Resilience Facility and is vital in current discussions about the review of the EU macro-economic governance framework.
Since 2016, as requested by the Council, every second year the Commission publishes a report on the implementation of the existing macro-regional strategies (MRS). This is the fourth report, covering the period from mid-2020 to mid-2022. It assesses the state of play and progress on implementing the MRS and examines ways forward especially in the context of the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 crisis.
The movement of skilled workers out of regions already suffering from lower economic development may further undermine the growth and development potential of these regions. Such a "brain drain" from vulnerable EU regions therefore may contribute to widening territorial disparities, going against the objective of territorial cohesion set out in Article 174 TFEU. Given the cross-border impact of such developments the Commission considers that action at EU level is necessary.
One of the main conclusions of the 8th Cohesion Report is that although cohesion and convergence among regions in the European Union has improved, there are still remaining gaps especially in less developed regions related with their territorial characteristics. EU islands, mountain areas and sparsely populated areas still face many challenges on their growth and income and disparities exist.
In these regions, there are still a lot of gaps in terms of employment and investment, social exclusion is evident and gender disparities have not diminished.
The EESC emphasises that the designing of proposals for new sources of own revenues should be done in context of the budgetary pressures faced by Member States following the pandemic and the ongoing international tensions. This has become all the more important in the current higher interest rate environment. The EESC also emphasises that the second set of own resources measures should be in line with the proportionality and social fairness principles. An EU-wide tax on digital transactions could be potentially considered to increase own resources in case the agreed rules of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework are not respected by other major trading partners.
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