The Justice, Rights and Values Fund is a much-needed instrument for the promotion of EU values, fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law, and in support of a vibrant and diverse civil society. Overall funding should be increased to EUR 1.4 billion, and innovative funding tools be used to reinforce civil society participation and capacity. 50% of the different strands should be earmarked for civil society organisations, and funding for litigation in support of civil society organisations defending fundamental rights be supported. Synergies should be found with programmes supporting media freedom.
538th Plenary session, 17-18 October 2018 - Related Opinions
The proposal is intended to introduce some targeted changes to Council Decision No 1313/2013/EU on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), under which the European Union supports, coordinates and supplements the action of Member States in the field of civil protection to prevent, prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters within and outside the Union. The proposal acknowledges that disaster prevention efforts are crucial to limit the need for crisis and emergency support.
The EESC welcomes the proposal for economic corrective measures regarding Member States that commit serious violations of the rule of law in Europe, and recommends that the interdependence between democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law is better reflected. The Commission should develop further channels for debate on Article 2 TEU values, and should include the EESC in this work. The EESC reiterates its call for the creation of a system of regular and independent monitoring of the implementation of these values in the Member States.
The EESC agrees with the aims of the Council Recommendation and with some of its proposals. However, it expresses its disagreement with the proposal for the aggregate fiscal stance of the euro area to be neutral, as well as with the way that the recommendation on salaries is formulated.
The EESC considers the proposed European Investment Stabilisation Function (EISF) as a step towards closer euro area integration, and possibly an attempt to encourage non-euro Member States to join the single currency. However, the EESC is of the view that a well-crafted union-wide insurance scheme that acts as an automatic stabiliser amidst macroeconomic shocks would be more effective than the proposed EISF.
The EESC welcomes these proposals on sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBSs), which fit into the broader context of completing the Banking Union and building a Capital Markets Union (CMU). Moreover, the proposals also have the potential to make a positive contribution to financial stability and resilience. The EESC has been strongly advocating a weakening of the link between banks and their home countries ("sovereigns") and therefore welcomes that SBBSs aim to contribute to this. The EESC considers that in conceptual terms, the idea of SBBSs is an attractive one and feels that the only way to find out whether banks will switch from bonds from their home countries to SBBSs for their investments and whether investors will be prepared to buy "junior" tranches in sufficient quantities to justify the creation of SBBSs, is to test this new financial instrument - the SBBS - on the market.
The EESC supports the Commission's Action Plan on financing sustainable growth, aimed at reorienting capital flows towards sustainable investment, and welcomes the legislative proposals stemming from it, on fiduciary duties, a taxonomy and benchmarks. The proposed gradual approach for its implementation, beginning with the work on a European sustainability taxonomy, is preferable. However, a subsequent extension of the initial taxonomy, based on environmental aspects, to social sustainability and governance goals will be necessary. Attention should be paid to the feasibility and proportionality of legal obligations.
The EESC considers the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) as pivotal factors to achieve sustainable development in the EU and therefore strongly regrets the cut of 12% in the ERDF and 46% in the CF.
The EESC welcomes the proposal for the ESF+ to improve merge funds and simplify procedures, but is critical of a financial cut in EU cohesion policy, and, as regards the ESF+, of the 6% decrease of the funding allocated to it. It calls for 30% of total resources for economic, social and territorial cohesion policies to be allocated to the ESF+ and for 30% of the ESF+ resources to be earmarked for social inclusion measures.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the fact that the European Commission has established a Digital Europe programme, which underscores the intention to make Europe a leading player in digitalisation and to increase its economic strength and competitiveness on the world stage. The aim of the Digital Europe programme is to enable a digital single market and to shape the digital transformation in a positive way for all citizens of Europe.