The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slowdown in the activity of many economic sectors and, at the same time, is giving rise to a significant shift in the global balance of power. In this context, the EU is looking for an appropriate strategy to strengthen its role as a global economic player, with policies aimed at boosting the international role of the euro, strengthening the resilience of EU financial market infrastructures and improving the implementation of sanctions imposed on third countries.
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In a debate at the EESC plenary session on 25 March, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for an Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis said that most of the national recovery and resilience plans (RRPs) are still at an early stage and that "there is still a lot of work to do before the plans are mature enough". He also stressed that trade policy has a key role to play in getting the EU economy back on track.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted its position on the EU's economic priorities for 2021. It welcomes the steps taken in the strategy to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of the European Green Deal, but is disappointed that the strategy proposed by the European Commission devotes too little attention to social issues. It also warns against phasing out support measures too early and advocates establishing new fiscal rules that will reflect social and economic realities after the pandemic.
In its opinion on the Euro area's economic policy for 2021, the European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the Commission's recommendations, but calls for a shift in fiscal rules towards a more prosperity-oriented form of economic governance, including a golden rule for public investment.
The RRF is still under negotiation, but according to the EU institutions the involvement of civil society will be fundamental both in the design and implementation phases of the national recovery and resilience plans.
Taking into account the disastrous social and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the EESC has adopted two additional opinions on the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy and on the euro area economic policy.
- European Green Deal must lead to more economic prosperity and convergence
- Sustainable growth must be a top priority
- Measures to close the investment gap are essential
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires more than political commitment, says the European Economic and Social Committee. Increased investment, especially by the private sector, is needed to address current economic, social and environmental challenges. The Committee therefore advises the EU and its Member States to adjust their investment and tax policies to enhance growth prospects, and thereby private sector contributions, to accomplishing the SDGs.
The EESC draws forward-looking conclusions from the 2019 Semester and the Committee's civil society consultations in the Member States
Cooperation and partnership between governments and civil society will be crucial for completing ambitious reforms needed for the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. Taking into account economic, social and environmental aspects is equally important for strengthening the social role of the European semester, concluded a high-level panel of top EU officials and experts at the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
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