Now that the summer is coming to an end and most of us are back at work, we hope to return to a typical working year – one in which the virus is under control, and we can welcome you again to our activities. In the meantime, we will kick off the season with a new format webinar – ETUI Conversations – in which we discuss a topic that is currently on the EU political agenda with a couple of speakers who shed light on it from different angles.
No doubt, a topic that deserves our attention is NextGenerationEU (NGEU) - the most extensive stimulus package ever financed in Europe. The promises made at the launch of the package are indeed unseen – it is not only an immediate recovery plan for the EU economies to overcome the disastrous impact of the Covid pandemic, but it should also support in the long term research and innovation, enable fair climate and digital transitions, prepare the EU to deal better with crises, modernise traditional policies such as cohesion and the common agricultural policy, fight climate change, protect biodiversity and advance in gender equality. The package was agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council in December last year, and in June this year, the Commission has conducted its first borrowing operation under the Recovery Plan. It has started allocating those funds according to the approved Member States’ recovery and resilience plans. As the exceptional investment plans of this Commission are thus slowly materialising, however, it remains to be seen whether a new phase of European integration is setting in or is it only a temporary solution to the current crisis. Is the NGEU going to bring about the necessary green transition by exclusively funding investments that do not harm the environment? Will it manage to achieve a more radical recalibration of the European welfare states by contributing to implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights? Will the social partners at the EU and national levels be sufficiently involved? Will this funding mechanism be a one-off instrument, or will it instead be structurally integrated into the EU budget, ensuring that the EU stays on track of the green and digital transition in the long run? And, as Caroline de la Porte – one of our speakers at the discussion – will argue, is the NGEU mainly a response to the economic and political imbalances leftover from the Eurozone crisis and, as such, only trying to clean the mess created by the devastating austerity policies from the previous decade?
The ETUI will follow the developments at the EU level closely over the coming year. It will continue to publish on this topic and other essential themes for the labour movement. We will keep you informed and will be glad to see you soon (in person) at our events.
Register here for the first edition of ETUI Conversations