This report is the result of the commitment of the EESC Euromed Follow-Up Committee to women issues in the region.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is fully aware of the varying circumstances in different countries in the Mediterranean region. It is particularly aware of the conflict and instability affecting many southern Mediterranean countries. The EESC calls on the European Commission (EC) and governments of the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region to develop shared solutions to these challenges – including poverty, economic challenges, conflict and terrorism – which are resulting in unacceptable suffering, especially among women.
The central role that women play in the process of democratisation during transitional periods, when drafting national constitutions and when reforming current laws must be safeguarded and sustained through good governance in order to prevent setbacks in gender equality.
Following the Baltic, Danube and Adriatic Ionian Regions, the Alpine space was the fourth to adopt its macro-regional strategy on 28 July 2015. The EESC welcomes the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region and sees it as an element of value added for the Alpine area as well as a driver for development that can nurture the competitiveness and cohesion of Europe as a whole.
The EESC sees the need to safeguard basic welfare provision by having common rules at EU level. The opinion sets out social policy principles which could provide a basis for the Commission's recommendations, especially in the context of the European Semester, the Europe 2020 strategy, the open method of coordination and the social impact assessment under Article 9 TFEU. Such principles should also provide the basis for a binding social protection floor and for the action and governance of the EU institutions themselves.
The EESC wishes to draw up an opinion on the revision of the agreement with Mexico, paying special attention to civil society participation in the process, i.e. consultations during the negotiations and monitoring implementation of the new agreement following its entry into force.
A genuine stabilisation of the economic and monetary union (EMU) can only succeed if the deficits in the EMU architecture are solved and to this end major reforms are undertaken. The longer the current austerity policy continues, that primarily looks at spending cuts without the addition of an effective investment plan and measures to enhance income through growth, social cohesion and solidarity, it will become increasingly clear that Europe's economic integration and prosperity is at risk from growing social inequalities. The EESC calls for greater "parliamentarisation" of the euro area, with a grand EP committee comprising all members of parliament from the euro area and from those countries wishing to join (26 Member States), combined with stronger coordination of members of parliament from the euro area on EMU issues (COSAC +).
The Economy for the Common Good model proposes the transition towards a "European Ethical Market" which will foster social innovation, boost the employment rate and benefit the environment, for example through using indicators of wellbeing and social development beyond the GDP such as the Common Good Product and the Common Good Balance Sheet. The EESC considers that the Economy for the Common Good model is conceived to be included both in the European and the domestic legal framework and demands from the European Commission, in the framework of the upcoming renewed CSR strategy, to make a qualitative step in order to reward (in terms of public procurement, access to external markets, tax advantages, etc.) those enterprises that can demonstrate higher ethical performance.
The EESC reiterates its support for the Juncker Commission's objective to fight social dumping as expressed in its 2015 opinion on the Roadmap to a single European transport area, as well as its call for the Commission to propose preventive measures.
The EESC regrets that the notion of social dumping while extensively used is not defined. For the purpose of this Opinion the EESC considers as social dumping practices that endeavour to circumvent or are in breach of social or market access regulations (letterbox companies) in order to gain competitive advantages. This opinion will focus on ways to deal with this kind of action.
EU aviation is at a crucial junction: without a compelling and coherent strategy, it runs the risk of further difficulties and thereby losing its economic clout and growth potential. In order to be able to compete in a globalised economy the entire European aviation value network needs more intermodality, better connectivity, better use of secondary hubs and regional airports, as well as optimisation of current processes. This does not, however, require new legislation in all cases. The EESC again urges the Commission to do more to ensure that current EU legislation is implemented. The Commission’s strategy for EU aviation should be driven by a compelling vision of how best to promote European competitiveness without distorting competition or undermining the social and labour relations.