Change of plans on the EU agenda
In my previous post, we were counting down to the first one hundred days in for the (new) Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the flagship initiatives and priorities, such as the Green Deal, minimum wage discussions, AI, and more. That weathering through a pandemic would be added to the mix, just close to the hundred day mark, was out of anyone´s scope, surely even to those curious about VDL´s training as a medical doctor.
The impact of COVID-19 to economies, families, people, and life as we know it has been profound. While being inherently a health crisis, COVID-19 created a snowball effect touching every country and sector, with tourism, hospitality and retail being hit the most.
Although there are several initial forecasts, the final ´bill´ is not yet known, and it remains to be seen how and how much has this situation affected the European and global economy. Even more so, we will need to assess the effects on work, on local communities, and most importantly, on people.
Given the urgency, the European Commission has decided to re-prioritize its work programme, which brings some changes to the original planning. According to the adjusted version released just last week, these are some of the changes we see:
– Twinning the Green and Digital Transition – both seen as essential to recovery and moving forward and promised to be anchored on a just transition principle – something that we truly urge to see developed with greater detail. A renewed Sustainable Finance strategy, Digital Education Action Plan as well as an Action Plan on Fintech will constitute a big part of it. Nonetheless, it is a pity that the review process of the Non-financial Reporting Directive has been moved to the start of the 2021;
– Action Plan on the Capital Markets Union – seen as a key part of the recovery plan, should be released by the end of 2020. The review of the Capital Requirements legislation on the other hand has been postponed, now for the end of the year, likely to better assess the needs and outcomes from the challenges of the first semester;
– Continued work on anti- money laundering/terrorism financing – following the launch of an Action Plan, the process is currently open for feedback, including on the need for better harmonization of rules , as well as ways for better coordination on EU level;
– Minimum wage – although with an adjusted timeline, the work in this area is set to continue. We actively follow the discussion on the overall issue, its potential impact on the Nordic model, and the shape of the discussion on cross-sectorial level.
In the midsts of these happenings, the importance and role of the financial sector has once again been made clear. Finance sector employees are still at the forefront, servicing consumers and making sure that businesses and households are able to stand strong. Not only now, but also in the process of recovery, the financial sector and employees will play a crucial role, especially if we indeed see a recovery that is in line with the climate targets and social goals – a direction advocated by many, from civil society, to MEPs , and the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance.
We always say that any effort needs to have a sound social basis, with people in its focus. This is why ensuring health, safety and wellbeing needs to come first and be reflected in the future policies and decisions made concerning the recovery and safe return to work.
Seeing the human impact that the current situation has had in our many everyday roles – as workers, parents, friends, members of communities and much more, decision makers need to remember to support, invest in and care about what matters – people.