The European Commission is pushing ahead on its response to the COVID pandemic and the subsequent economic and social crisis through its Recovery and Resilience Facility. It is presented as the way to “mitigate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic and make European economies and societies more sustainable, resilient, and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions.” Member States will have to develop national plans that will then be submitted to the European Commission for analysis and then money will be disbursed from the EU budget to address the priorities of the plans.
It is clear now that this will the major process for the allocation of EU funds in the coming years and will shape how programmes such as the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Funds will be used. So what will the priorities be? We are concerned that with emphasis on reforms that support green and digital transformations social priorities will be downgraded. It is the common story – if it is not mentioned, then there will be no budget for it.
That is why we have to work urgently in the coming weeks and months to ensure that our understanding of recovery and resilience includes social recovery and resilience. No recovery will be fully successful if there is not a focus on ensuring people have access to affordable, accessible, and quality social services when they are needed. There is no resilience if people do not have the skills and training needed to enter into an ever-changing job market and there is certainly no resilience if household income is below at risk of poverty levels.
We must have a green and digital transition but it must be a social one, one that puts the needs of people and planet on an even setting and works towards an economy of wellbeing. We need to act now. For these plans to be successful, they must be drawn up with the input of organisations such as our members who can bring experience and evidence from the local level and translate that into the systemic and structural changes needed to have fair and just recovery and resilience. It is not an easy process – and requires new understanding and ways of working – but it is necessary if we want to ensure that our priorities and the priorities of the people we serve are addressed. There is no recovery and resilience without ambitious, inclusive social policies as part of the strategy. The allocation of EU money must reflect that and we will be working in the coming weeks to ensure it does.
Have a good weekend,