EESC in a flash with Stefano Mallia: “Recovery plans, industrial strategy and social rights”

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What are the main challenges for the implementation of the Recovery Fund?

The national recovery plans must address the key structural issues within the individual national economies. These funds cannot be seen as just any other funds to carry out just any other project. The pandemic has shown us how important it is that we have key infrastructure in place for example in IT, and that we have a skilled and adaptable workforce. It is also clear that we must tackle head-on the huge challenge of climate change.

It is therefore vital that the projects identified are the correct one and that they have an impact across all the economy. Thus, ensuring that even SMEs can benefit. This, in our view, can only take place if the social partners are involved in the drafting and equally important in the implementation of the national recovery plans. With a strong economic recovery comes prosperity and with prosperity, we can afford a strong and social Europe.

How to combine the recovery strategy with the respect of the social rights in the EU?

Competitiveness and inclusiveness go hand in hand. Let's not forget that the best performing EU economies are those which have the highest social standards. I am referring for example to the Nordic countries, but also Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Belgium.
This is why employers believe that a sustainable economic recovery is the main critical enabler for social progress. Not the other way around.

Europe is social. But let me underline that there is already a wide-ranging social acquis which can allow us to meet the targets. The focus should be on ensuring proper implementation and enforcement of the existing acquis and using best practices and benchmarking to give impetus to the national reform process.

What is the role of member states?

The role of social partners and of the member states is to ensure that structural reforms are undertaken as quickly as possible. It is only in this way that we can move towards truly not leaving anyone behind.
European Economic and Social Committee and indeed the Employers' Group are, as always, ready to face up to our responsibilities in ensuring that we achieve this.