Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 (additional opinion)

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Mnenje strokovne skupine EESO: Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 (additional opinion)

The EESC

  • is still concerned about the insufficient clarity in most Member States on the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRP) governance systems and the distribution of responsibilities for their implementation between the central, regional and local levels. Nor is there sufficient clarity on the appropriate mechanisms for involving Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and social partners in the implementation, monitoring and adjustment phases of the NRRPs.
  • draws attention to the need to measure the progress of the implementation of the RRPs. Good monitoring indicators are needed, as they will be the compass for the direction for how to continue to develop and recover.
  • believes strongly in the importance of the next Semester cycle for the Union as a key instrument for implementing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). There are two kinds of tools in the National Plans: the Member States can implement and make radical structural changes on the one hand with a dual transition and on the other hand with investment and reforms for citizens suffering more directly from this crisis. For the EESC, both these options must be taken into consideration.Recovery is needed to make the economic system resilient.
  • finds that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted some of Europe's most dangerous weaknesses: the lack of a coordination policy for industry and dependence on other economic areas for many products and services. The increase in raw material prices (and difficulties in its distribution), the lack of semiconductors and high energy prices also show the Union's dependence on critical assets. The EESC wants to see real action from all MS on investment in education, infrastructure and industrial policy that can raise employment and encourage citizens to boost European industry.
  • supports investments in high-quality education, lifelong learning and R&D, which are essential to drive and complement the economic and social changes that NextGenerationEU promotes. It must be combined with a really strong industrial policy that can promote the production and development of products and services in Europe in order to avoid a complete dependence on other economic areas.
  • believes that this is the time for a thorough and deep reform of the pact. A strong recommendation is needed in this new revised Semester and a new pact that includes some binding proceedings and rules for the consultations of CSOs and local authorities to involve them in all stages, from preparation to implementation .
  •  notes that the RRPs shows a clear focus on the goals of the Green Deal. For the EESC, this is obviously important but there are concerns regarding the implementation and the impact of some measures that seem to be not very well founded. Citizens, workers and companies must be supported in making this transition and the targets must be defined clearly and reasonably ..
  • calls attention to the fact that one of the most valuable outputs of the Semester process, the Country Specific Recommendations, have been ignored through the years. The MS should re-evaluate their attitude towards this tool, particularly after the COVID-19 crisis and in light of the opportunity that the RRF brings to implement structural reforms.
  • also calls attention to the fund absorption capacity of certain Member States. The Commission's experience and data should provide warnings for the MS and help them better reallocate the funds in terms of distribution and timeline.  
  • believes that the digitalisation process, especially in connection with public services in health or social systems, will eliminate a number of jobs and may also create problems to elderly citizens with less ability to deal with the digitalisation process. The EESC calls attention to the need to design programmes that may really support citizens and facilitate the transition.
  • welcomes the "Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard" initiative and believes that this will be a very important tool that is able to boost the investment process and bring about mechanisms that could be of crucial importance for the Union. However, the EESC insists on CSOs' participation also in this process and  also calls attention to the need to empower and prepare CSOs for this challenge.