Social partners in recovery plans: Eurofund findings

National recovery plans in the EU states are aimed at making their socio-economic development sustainable and resilient. Social partners in the member states were obliged to take an active part in preparing these plans in order to better prepare the states for tackling modern challenges and facilitate EU’s green and digital transition. However, social partners’ involvement was “uneven and weak”, according to recent Eurofund report. 

Eurofund as the EU agency (full title: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) was established in 1975 with the task of “provide knowledge in the area of social, employment and work-related policies”, according to the EU Regulation 2019/127.

Recent report prepared by the Eurofund (Spring 2022) analysed the involvement of social partners (i.e. this where the business community’s interest takes stock) in the preparation of the national recovery plans; report’s key findings were, generally, disappointing. It mentioned, for example, that the social partners in the EU states “considered that the consultation process could have been better planned and organised: i.e. the quality and intensity of the social partners’ involvement was uneven and rather weak in a relatively high number of countries”. The report concluded that several national RRPs “only briefly” described the social partners’ inclusion in the RRP-consultation process “without making explicit the social partners’ views.
Citations from: https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef21002en.pdf

In the EU financial supporting program called NextGenerationEU, with about € 807 billion is aimed at boosting recovery; this amount is being available through the issuance of a common European obligations (as a “EU-debt”) borrowed on the global financial market. As a vital instrument in practical recovery process in the states, the EU designed the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF, a regulation was adopted in February 2021) to finance reforms and investments in the member states, called recovery and resilience plans, RRPs. The EU-wide recovery program started in February 2020 and will last until the end of 2026. One of the additional instruments in RRPs is the “European Semester”, a coordination process of national socio-economic development to integrate the RRF within the states governance process.
In order to “benefit from the RRF”, the EU member states had to submit their recovery and resilience plans outlining national investment and reform agendas, in line with the EU political guidance’s criteria.
Social partners in the EU-27 were supposed to be actively involved in preparation of the national RRPs, as was required by the RRF Regulation-2021. The regulation is also addressing significant risks and challenges posed by the pandemic and the subsequent economic and social crisis.

One of the main conclusions in the Eurofund’s report on social partners’ participation in national recovery and resilience plans (RRPs) was quite pessimistic: “uneven and involvement”, said the report. Among the countries which were “dissatisfied” with the social partners’ involvement in RRP preparation have been: Hungary and Slovenia, Greece and Lithuania, Slovakia and Romania; “mixed views” were expressed by partners in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Ireland and Malta.
For example in Latvia, the report notified, social partners considered that the quality of their involvement in the RRP-development “was not satisfactory at the beginning of the process
but improved after the first draft was submitted, as a result of their continuing insistence on being heard”. The partners stressed that they received documents very late and did not have sufficient time to read drafts and to prepare comments. However, the two main social partners’
opinions slightly differed: trade unions were more satisfied with their involvement than employer
organisations, and they acknowledged that some of their views were implemented in the final version (citation from the report, p. 27).
Generally, some social partners in the EU-27 considered that the RRPs could be viewed as a sort of summary of pre-existing initiatives, rather than a list of new measures, while others saw the RRPs as a real opportunity to “mobilize resources through a set of investments affecting the national economic model and providing new policies for the next generation”, concluded the report.

General reference: Eurofound (2022), Involvement of social partners in the national recovery and resilience plans, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. – 48 pp. In:
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef21002en.pdf.

 

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