Europe's population is getting older. While demand for homecare grows, exploitative conditions persist among "live-in" carer workers, who work in the least regulated informal and semi-formal segments of the sector. The EESC calls on the European Union to work closely with Member States to coordinate the supply and mobility of live-in care workers and respect their rights as part of an overall approach to improve this sector.
No EU institution has so far addressed the issues surrounding live-in care workers, a social group that is expanding as population ages in Europe. The EESC believes that their existence in the European labour market must be recognised and the quality of the services they deliver improved. They should be treated in a similar way to other care workers and enjoy similar protection. Financial support for care recipients also needs to be made available through adequate long-term and sustainable social investment.
The PINC (the nuclear illustrative programme) does not offer a clear and comprehensive approach to how the complex future of nuclear power in the European energy mix can be strategically addressed. The Committee urges the Commission to propose a clear analytical process and methodology which can offer a consistent, voluntary framework for national decision-making about the role – if any – of nuclear power in the energy mix. The EESC is therefore calling for revisions and additions to the draft communication, covering aspects of competitiveness of nuclear power, security of supply, climate change and carbon targets, public acceptability, transparency and effective national dialogue.
The Committee would also like to see further references being made to extensive work on off-site and cross-border preparation for emergencies. The implications of the Brexit vote and a road map illustrating nuclear fusion progress should also be covered by the Commission document.
The EESC has played an important role in strengthening an informed civil society debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through a number of TTIP-related opinions, adopted in 2014 and 2015, covering issues such as labour rights, investment protection, impact on SMEs, among others.
It is important under the present circumstances that the EESC, in order to maintain its position as a key civil society player in the TTIP debate, react to the textual proposals for TTIP negotiations on essential topics such as the sustainable development chapter, regulatory cooperation, investment and services. This will have the advantage not only of setting up the EESC position on major negotiating chapters but also of presenting concrete recommendations and pointing out the need to involve civil society in the implementation of those chapters.
The opinion would serve primarily as the EESC contribution to the discussions on the main topics of interest in the TTIP negotiations. Additionally, a balanced and in-depth opinion from the EESC would contribute to fostering a more informed debate on key TTIP issues.
The EESC supports and endorses the Commission's strategic choice of an open European computing cloud geared to the scientific community, as part of a strong political and economic commitment to digital innovation. The EESC proposes a European cloud open to all citizens and businesses. The EESC calls for greater clarity on how the European Data Infrastructure, which is also intended to promote development and the implementation of High Performance Computing (HPC), will interact with the flagship initiative to boost quantum technologies.The EESC proposes that the Commission launch wide-ranging consultations, directly involving the scientific community and associations representing people's interests, on the decisive question of governance as well as on the progressive opening up to all and arrangements for data use and preservation.The EESC recommends that the hardware and software needed for the European cloud be acquired in Europe, and calls for greater clarity regarding the financial resources provided by various framework programmes, the structural funds, the CEF and the EFSI.In order to offer businesses and the public a clear and secure legislative framework in such a strategic but also complex and fast-changing sector as the digital one, the EESC proposes that a "single digital Europe portal" be set up, so citizens and businesses have ready access to relevant EU texts.Lastly, the EESC emphasises that if a fully-fledged digital revolution is to take place, there is a need for education and training for every age group of the European population, whether working or not. The EESC highlights the need to invest in the technological training of women and in enabling them to access senior and management posts in particular.
In September 2015 world leaders adopted the UN agenda Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, establishing a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, ensure protection of human rights and guarantee prosperity for all. As an initial step the Commission is carrying out an internal "mapping" exercise in order to identify which existing EU policies already address the challenges set by the SDGs. The Commission has asked the Committee to contribute to that process with the present exploratory opinion.
Fighting against tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning, both at the EU and at a global level, is an important political priority for the European Union. The EESC welcomes and endorses the Commission proposal, which aims to make the taxation system more transparent as this measure will boost public confidence. The EESC suggests that the Commission should aim for a more ambitious package. It proposes the disclosure of a wider range of data, the gradual reduction of the turnover threshold of EUR 750 Million and that the disclosed data is made publicly available in one of the official languages of the EU in order to achieve the objective of giving the public genuine access to data for the whole single market.
The EESC welcomes the "Action Plan on VAT", and calls for a definitive VAT system that is clear, consistent, robust and comprehensive, as well as proportionate and future-proof. The Committee welcomes the strong focus on closing the VAT gap and tackling the susceptibility of VAT to fraud. There should be results delivered without delay, including by improving cooperation between tax administrations. “Bona fide” enterprises should be protected and no new excessive measures should be imposed on them. The future system of reduced rates must combine flexibility and legal certainty, be transparent, and for the sake of simplicity the number of reduced rates and exemptions must be limited.