Euro area economic policy 2021 (additional opinion) - Related Opinions
This additional opinion will complement and update the proposals made in the original 2021 ASGS opinion, adopted in February this year. The purpose of the additional opinion is to take into account recent developments as regards the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the National Recovery and Resilience Plans.
The European Semester has been adapted to the special circumstances triggered by the pandemic and it is playing a central role in the recovery, through the implementation of the Facility. The additional opinion is necessary for the EESC to make related proposals and it will be presented to the October 2021 Plenary in order to provide a timely input to the Commission's preparation of the next ASGS expected for November 2021. It will therefore target directly the next European Semester cycle at the right political and institutional moment.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the Recovery and Resilience Facility regulation confirms the importance of genuine civil society involvement in the development of national plans and advocates for the establishment of binding conditionality for such consultation. To support economic development the EESC considers the full operation of the Single Market as well as fiscal policies and support measures crucial, while calling for the establishment of new fiscal rules that reflect social and economic realities after the pandemic. New instruments to combat tax evasion, undeclared work and the shadow economy are also called for. The EESC also welcomes the inclusion of the green and digital transitions, but regrets the insufficient attention paid to social issues. Efforts to move rapidly towards a green and digital economy must not result in a further increase in poverty and greater social exclusion.
This additional opinion updates and complements the proposals made in the original ASGS opinion, adopted in February this year. The EESC welcomes the step forward towards embracing a more social, inclusive and sustainable economic model, particularly given the economic and social effects of COVID-19. To support the economic recovery and public investment, and in support of a digital and green transformation, the EESC believes that a revision of the Stability and Growth Pact, flexibility in state aid rules and a rethink of tax policy is necessary. Well-resourced public health measures and social security systems are likewise of vital importance. The EESC also welcomes the Commission's proposals for Next Generation EU and sees the ASGS as an opportunity for the EU to shift towards an economic model that gives equal weighing to both economic and social objectives.
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.
The EESC is of the opinion that building economic resilience, an objective that underlies the recommendations of the European Commission on the economic policy of the euro area, is of the utmost importance for the euro area economies. However, the Committee would like to stress that the pursuit of economic resilience should go hand in hand with increased labour market resilience, that is, the capacity of labour markets to weather shocks with limited social costs.
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.