Recent weeks have been a rollercoaster for the future of the EU and the economic recovery from the COVID-19. On 10 November, after months of intense negotiations, the European Parliament and the presidency of the European Council reached a political agreement on the basis of the €1,8 trillion negotiated by EU leaders in July (which combines the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 worth €1,07tln and the €750bln Next Generation EU).
A week later, on 16 November, the EU ambassadors of Poland and of Hungary blocked the approval process, opposing the compromise found on the creation of a rule of law mechanism attached to the EU funds. Throwing the EU back in crisis mode a few days before a meeting of the EU heads of state and of government on the COVID-19 crisis, the decision of the Hungarian and Polish governments has put a break on the swift availability of the EU support badly needed by some Member States.
Like many EU stakeholders, CEEP and the other EU social partners deplored this decision, calling on “Member States to endorse the agreement found on the European recovery fund and Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027” in a joint statement. Noting that “the agreement (…) is essential to help the EU economy recover from the damage the COVID crisis continues to inflict”, we highlighted that “European enterprises and workers urgently need the EU financial support foreseen in this agreement”, and that “it is time to deliver the compromises found for the common good of all Member States.”
The link between respect for the rule of law and EU funds was also high on the agenda of the Federal Assembly of the European Movement International (EMI) on 19 and 20 November. As an international association member of the EMI, and able to count on my presence as Vice-President of the EMI for the next 3 years, CEEP intends to activate this network in order to raise its voice on the issues of rule of law. Together with its partners within the EMI, CEEP also intends to be an active and vocal actor in the future Conference on the Future of Europe, both at European and local level, in order to make the exercise meaningful and relevant for citizens.
Of course, those issues will not take us away from our key calls for an SGI-centred recovery. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to restate our call during the Macroeconomic Dialogue, during which CEEP recalled the importance of rebuilding “our economy through investments in knowledge, in new technologies, green and digital, and in the successful reskilling and upskilling of the workforce to achieve higher productivity”, as well as our readiness to “to provide long-term investment plans to feed in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans” to address issues such as energy poverty, housing overcrowding and access to quality and affordable healthcare and education, as recently stated at a webinar organised with Eurocities and at the heart of our future activities within the SGIs facing COVID-19 platform.
Those core messages will be at the heart of our renaming event scheduled on 8 December. Featuring the participation of European Commission EVP Valdis Dombrovskis and MEPs such as Brando Benifei and Eva Maydell, the event will feature the reveal of the new name of the association, as well as policy debate on the role of SGIs in the COVID-19 recovery. Held online via Zoom, we hope to count on the presence of many of you on the occasion.
In the meanwhile, I wish you a good read.