Civil Society Europe has written to the EU Finance Ministers ahead of the ECOFIN meeting tomorrow on 4 November 2020:
First of all, we would like to express our concerns on the delays on the adoption of the regulation for Recovery and Resilience Plans, as well as the Multiannual Financial Framework. It is crucial that in this very critical period, where many people in Europe are suffering the consequences of the pandemic, budget resources are adopted and available. We urge you therefore to do your utmost to swiftly find a compromise with the other institutions for an ambitious plan and resources that will support and engage Europeans for the next years.
We also find it critical for the National Recovery and Resilience Plans to be crafted in a way that responds to public concern the most. For this reason, we have informed our members and called upon them to engage with their national governments on the preparation of the plans. The importance of engaging in dialogue with civil society organisations, such as associations and foundations, in addition to the social partners, in the design and preparation of the plans is also underlined as a requirement. We are confident that you will carry out such a consultation in accordance with the highest principles of good governance, transparency and democratic inclusiveness.
We note that many not for profit organisations are potentially directly eligible for measures under the employment, economic, digital and greening objectives of the plan, although guidelines at EU level refer specifically only to business and SMEs. This is even more critical as the EU instruments are complementing national measures. Civil society organisations have been and are at the forefront in responding to the crisis, but have also been greatly affected in many sectors such as health, social, cultural, education, environment, many of which are overrepresented by women, and rife with precarious conditions and a lack of access to social protection.
In order to ensure public participation, as well as an endorsement of the measures, a communication strategy on the national Recovery and Resilience Plans has to be developed. This should include access for citizens to the full content of the plans, including at drafting stage, as well as information on the internal adoption process and parliamentary discussions. We notice that in several countries there is a lack of awareness on the preparation of the plans.
We also believe that in order to ensure public scrutiny of the measures adopted, information on the final beneficiaries of the projects and investment funded should be published. Some Member States already have established an open database for structural funds beneficiaries which could be extended, if not already foreseen to include funding from the EU Recovery Plan. We believe that all the measures above are fundamental to also restore citizens’ confidence in these difficult times, given that public participation has been restricted since the beginning of the pandemic.
Finally we also would like to inform you that we will prepare an evaluation of the recovery Plans based on the feedback from civil society organisations, in which we will identify best practices notably as regards consultation of civil society.
We remain at your disposal for any further clarification on this matter. Please do not hesitate to send us information that could be useful for our members in this context.