The EESC welcomes the fact that the package of regulations on the future multiannual financial framework includes the InvestEU proposal to strengthen investment activity in the EU, including long-term investment projects that are of high public interest, while also respecting the sustainable development criteria. In order to guarantee that this programme operates successfully, the Committee underlines the importance of the involvement of civil society organisations and social and economic partners. The EESC appreciates the European Commission's efforts to create an umbrella financial instrument by the InvestEU programme that will result in unified management, enhanced transparency and potential for synergies. The EESC appreciates the fact that, in addition to promoting sustainable infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research and innovation, the InvestEU programme also focuses on social investment and skills.
The EESC is concerned to note the euro area's economic downturn and the gradual end to a fall in unemployment, wedded to the persistent higher incidence of risk factors affecting economic performance. It is the European Green Deal that the EESC sees as the backbone of the future EU and euro-area economic configuration – the potential start of a fundamental change and a turning point. If managed successfully, it could move Europe up a gear economically and socially; if not, its failure could fatally jeopardise the integrity of the EU.
In the framework of this opinion a hearing (Agricultural machinery and construction and handling equipment: what is the best way out of the crisis?) was organized in Bologna, Italy, on 11 November 2010.
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 Committee gives a guarded welcome to the two communications from the Commission on the introduction of a Competitiveness and Convergence Instrument and on ex-ante coordination of plans for major economic policy reforms. It is disappointing that they provide little additional detail to the concepts already outlined in the Blueprint, which therefore renders assessment difficult. While these two proposals could be a help to Member States in difficulty, restoring growth and capacity to the most needy areas may be hampered or delayed because the focus of concern is that the measures taken must also benefit the euro area as a whole. The Committee questions the added value of a CCI and the additional bureaucratic burden that the proposed ex-ante coordination may bring. The EESC wishes to continue the debate as developments evolve.
The Committee recommends that future crises in the European Union should be managed by striving for a better balance between fiscal and social objectives and urges the Commission to design "supplementary economic and social recovery" programmes, to be applied at the same time as or at the end of an adjustment programme. The EESC recommends that in any future crises situation, the EU Institutions should be solely responsible for developing and implementing the adjustment programmes and stresses that social partners and representatives of civil society must be included in the programme's monitoring and assessment panel, on an equal footing with representatives of the EU, the ECB and other bodies.