Macroeconomic dialogue at political level, 3 November 2020

The 41st meeting of the macroeconomic dialogue at political level focused on the current economic conditions and outlook, and employment and economic growth in Europe – the role of the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The COVID-19 second wave has hit Europe. The pandemic causes unprecedented economic and social challenges. It is all the more important that Europe stands together in solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus. The social partners are key to successfully respond to these challenges. Today, we had a constructive and valuable exchange with social partners on the severity of the economic conditions and the importance of the Recovery and Resilience Facility for Europe’s recovery. The Recovery and Resilience Facility needs to be quickly implemented to support a sustainable recovery and at the same facilitate the green and digital transitions.

Olaf Scholz, Minister of Finance and Vice Chancellor of Germany which currently holds the presidency of the Council

The pandemic has exacerbated labour market and social challenges. Short-time work schemes have been very effective in supporting jobs, incomes, spending and confidence. But they hide the full impact of the crisis on employment. This is why we should make the best use of all the safety nets – worth EUR 540 billion – that we put in place in April, including SURE. The SURE scheme is now fully operational – almost 90% of its funds are already earmarked and the first disbursements took place last week.

Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis

We can only grow out of the crisis together. Member States can achieve more acting together than individually. This was never more relevant than when tackling a virus which does not recognise national borders. Our interdependence is a source of strength in dealing with this disease. The Eurogroup and the EU have reacted swiftly and collectively to mitigate the impact of this virus on our citizens and our economies.

President of the Eurogroup Paschal Donohoe

The ETUC urges the EU institutions to find a compromise very soon on the Recovery and Resilience facility and the Multiannual Financial framework. At the same time, the ETUC cannot accept an EU budget that is not sufficient enough to deliver the ambitious green and digital transformation and adequate resources for cohesion, convergence and social priorities; additionally, no reference is included in the RRF to the social dimension and the European Pillar of Social Rights, respect for social dialogue, collective bargaining and workplace democracy as compulsory conditions for funding, as well as to the need for the full involvement of Social Partners in the design, implementation and monitoring of the national Recovery plans. The ETUC insists on the emergency measures for employment support and income compensation to be prolonged for as long as necessary to face the second wave of the virus, and extended to cover all workers, including non-standard and self-employed. Last but not least, the ETUC strongly advocates the prolongation of the General Escape clause of the SGP.

European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) General Secretary Luca Visentini

Whilst the economic recovery is underway, it is uneven and uncertain. We expect that even by the end of 2021, the EU economy will still be 3% below pre-crisis level. With private investment having fallen considerably during the crisis, we need public investment to temporarily fill that gap. This means rapid agreement and implementation of the EU’s Next Generation recovery instrument. Given the resurgence of the virus, the EU and Member States must avoid any premature unwinding of measures to support business and workers, which would risk a new recession.

BusinessEurope Director General Markus J. Beyrer

In order to deliver on the post-COVID19 economic transformation, CEEP calls on EU and national institutions to make the funding of the Next Generation EU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility quickly available at the regional and local level. For us, this is the right way to address chronic underinvestment in essential infrastructures, such as our healthcare or education systems. Our members stand ready to provide long-term investment plans to feed in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans, and call for a clear recognition of the socio-economic added-value SGIs employers and providers in making society resilient to future crisis.

European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services and services of general interest (CEEP) General Secretary, Valeria Ronzitti

SMEs have been hard hit by the Corona crisis. Many support measures have helped them to overcome liquidity shortage, however now more and more SMEs are facing solvency problems. Therefore, solvency support measures have to become part of National Reform and Resilience Programmes. They should also strengthen investment in skills needed for the twin transition. Finally, Ms Willems called for broad involvement of stakeholders in the design and implementation of national programmes to ensure the right balance between public investments and support for needed reforms. This will be a precondition to attract the necessary private investments to drive recovery, innovation and transition.

SME UNITED Secretary General, Veronique Willems

In these challenging times, Europe has come together. National Governments and European Institutions have put in place a strong and effective short-term response to the crisis, contributing to protect jobs, income and businesses. This resolve needs to continue as we shape and speed up the implementation of the European Recovery Plan, working in close dialogue with social partners, preparing a more resilient and fairer economy, fit for the 21st century.

Incoming Portuguese presidency (January to June 2021)

Even though we are facing the time of big uncertainties, it is crucial to focus on the recovery and further resilience. Healthy business cores and employment must continue to be maintained. We have to encourage investments and save jobs. Using fiscal and structural policies more actively in the current environment will, if used wisely, support economic activity. The historic decision by the EU to tackle this crisis with a common fiscal response was a strong gesture of the European solidarity. It has also been instrumental in stabilising financial markets and will help the national governments to use the funds for targeted investments and reforms. This is the right way forward. It is important that stakeholders, from trade unions to employers’ organisations and society at large, are included into planning the future reform action. We need a broad consensus on the envisaged reform and resilience measures, but we must not forget that decisions need to be done quickly without any unnecessary administrative burdens. We believe that we will all be able to accept positive change to the benefit of our societies and economy in the future.

Future Slovenian presidency (July to December 2021)