EU should crack down on breaches of the rule of law

Disbursement of EU funds, including the Recovery Fund, must be tied to respect for the rule of law in all Member States. Systematic deficiencies in the rule of law always undermine the implementation of EU-funded programmes, and the absence of a rapid and comprehensive EU response to this will jeopardise the EU’s credibility, warns the EESC

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has taken a tough stance on breaches of the rule of law in the EU, declaring it is committed to ensuring that the Council of the European Union and the European Commission impose high dissuasive penalties on Member States which systematically disrespect the rule of law in a way that puts the EU budget at risk.

In the own-initiative opinion Rule of law and the recovery fund adopted at its plenary session on 20 January, the EESC welcomed the EU’s Regulation 2020/2092, which enables the Commission to impose financial penalties for systematic shortcomings in the rule of law in a given EU country, and called for the regulation to be applied strictly in all areas that are relevant to the budget. Continue reading “EU should crack down on breaches of the rule of law”

Strategic Foresight Report : Enhancing the EU’s long-term capacity and freedom to act

The Commission has adopted its second annual Strategic Foresight Report – “The EU’s capacity and freedom to act”. This Communication presents a forward-looking and multidisciplinary perspective on the EU’s open strategic autonomy in an increasingly multipolar and contested global order. The Commission has identified four main global trends, affecting the EU’s capacity and freedom to act: climate change and other environmental challenges; digital hyperconnectivity and technological transformation; pressure on democracy and values; and shifts in the global order and demography. It has also set out 10 key areas of action where the EU can seize opportunities for its global leadership and open strategic autonomy. Strategic foresight thereby continues to inform the Commission’s Work Programmes and priority-setting.

European Commission President Ursulavon der Leyen said: “European citizens experience almost on a daily basis that global challenges such as climate change and digital transformation have a direct impact on their personal lives. We all feel that our democracy and European values are being put into question, both externally and internally, or that Europe needs to adapt its foreign policy due to a changing global order. Early and better information about such trends will help us tackle such important issues in time and steer our Union in a positive direction. Continue reading “Strategic Foresight Report : Enhancing the EU’s long-term capacity and freedom to act”

European Commission endorses Belgium’s €5.9 billion recovery and resilience plan

The European Commission has adopted a positive assessment of Belgium’s recovery and resilience plan. This is an important step towards the EU disbursing €5.9 billion in grants under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This financing will support the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Belgium’s recovery and resilience plan. It will play a key role in enabling Belgium to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RRF – at the heart of NextGenerationEU – will provide up to €672.5 billion (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across the EU. The Belgian plan forms part of an unprecedented coordinated EU response to the COVID-19 crisis, to address common European challenges by embracing the green and digital transitions, to strengthen economic and social resilience and the cohesion of the Single Market.

The Commission assessed Belgium’s plan based on the criteria set out in the RRF Regulation. The Commission’s analysis considered, in particular, whether the investments and reforms set out in Belgium’s plan support the green and digital transitions; contribute to effectively addressing challenges identified in the European Semester; and strengthen its growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience. Continue reading “European Commission endorses Belgium’s €5.9 billion recovery and resilience plan”