The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted a position paper calling for additional measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the fisheries and aquaculture sector. This crisis is having a striking impact on EU fisheries, as the major fish sales channels have been closed: sales outlets, markets, shops, restaurants and hotels. As demand abruptly dropped, the price of the fish fell to half or less of the value at which it was traded before. The activities in this sector are now loss-making as a result. In this position paper, the EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal to amend the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Regulation and the Common Market Organisation (CMO) Regulation and appreciates the speed of its response.
The EESC has endorsed the European Commission’s proposal to postpone by a full year the implementation of several provisions of the new regulation on medical devices (Regulation (EU) 2017/745 of 5 April 2017) which were to come into effect in May 2020.
The move is intended to ease the regulatory burden on Member States grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is putting a huge strain on their resources.
The proposal also allows EU-wide exceptions to the normal conformity assessment procedures for specific devices in order to address potential shortages of vitally important medical equipment such as Europe is experiencing at the moment.
The EESC welcomes the proposal to provide exceptional flexibility for the use of the European Structural and Investment Funds in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and calls for it to be adopted swiftly with the greatest possible flexibility. All possible administrative burdens should be eliminated, and social partners and relevant civil society organisations more actively involved, in order to ensure effective crisis management. To overcome the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, the European Commission should propose an EU recovery plan commensurate with needs and in line with the EU's priorities. This plan should make use of all the programmes under a revised MFF 2021-2027, new innovative financial tools and investments.
The response to the COVID-19 crisis has had a negative impact on a number of fundamental rights. The unavoidable lockdowns have restricted our freedom of movement and cross-border travel. Freedom of association and assembly have been cut, so have privacy rights through data tracking systems. What has been put in place as a temporary measure cannot be instrumentalised to revert decades-long fights for freedoms and equality. We must get out of this crisis with our democracies – and our European Union – intact.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Serbia held the 10th meeting of their Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) in Brussels on 10 March, adopting a joint declaration by majority on 31 March. JCC members called on the EU institutions to take better account of civil society's role and to strengthen its involvement in monitoring Serbia's accession process and holding authorities to account.
Ahead of the Eurogroup meeting on 7 April 2020, the European Economic and Social Committee has adopted a declaration calling for timely and urgent responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faced with the public health concerns and the political, economic and social consequences of the crisis, the EESC Members, as representatives of organised civil society, are united in stressing the crucial need for joint and prompt action. The Committee underlines that this pandemic is a test of solidarity in political, financial, social and scientific terms for the European Union.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has strongly supported the enlargement of the European Union to the six Western Balkans countries provided they fulfil all the necessary criteria for membership. In the aftermath of the Council's non-decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in October 2019, we have reacted swiftly by adopting, on 31 October, a Resolution expressing our profound disappointment by the lack of unanimity from the Member States. The EESC has since been committed to working closely and intensively with the civil society in the Western Balkans to support and reassure them that their place is in the European Union.
The European Economic and Social Committee backs up the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative of the European Commission. The initiative is aimed at promoting investment in the healthcare systems of the European Member States and other sectors of their economies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the EU would mobilise cash reserves, i.e. unspent pre-financing for EU funds, and provide financial support.
On 25 March 2020, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted a generally favourable position on the European Commission's proposal to amend the Council Regulation on the European Union Solidarity Fund in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The proposed regulation aims to provide financial assistance to Member States and countries negotiating their accession to the European Union that are seriously affected by major public health emergencies, such as the current pandemic.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs the European Commission's proposal to support the aviation sector in the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.