The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) believes that the prospect of a European circular economy should bring a major boost to the systemic competitiveness of the EU, a driver for growth and a generator of new green jobs and skills, providing it is based on a shared European strategic vision with active participation from the world of work, governments, employers and employees, consumers and legislative and regulatory authorities at various levels.
The Committee calls for the launch of a major participatory foresight initiative at European level, with a view to moulding a common vision among all public and private players, in order to pave the way for a consensus-based transition to a circular economy with coherent and effective policies and instruments at EU, national and regional levels, and in order to give concrete impetus to the green innovation agenda
The Committee welcomes the two communications and the package of amendments to the waste directives and supports the campaign to make all businesses and consumers aware of the need to phase out the current linear economic model of "take, make, consume and dispose" and accelerate the transition to a circular model that is restorative by design and aims to rely on renewable energy, in order to minimise the use of natural resources.
However, the Committee regrets that the specific proposals put forward by the Commission focus too much on waste policies and legislation while similar specific proposals "upstream" aimed at improving the entire lifecycle of products are missing.
The framework proposed by the European Commission should share the work involved in promoting awareness and changing behaviour fairly between stakeholders: looking to the future, achieving scientific progress, introducing innovative applications, and safeguarding Europe's competitiveness and the common interest should all be kept in balance. Consumers and producers must be made aware of their responsibilities.
The EESC welcomes the Commission Communication on "European film in the digital era – Bridging cultural diversity and competitiveness" (COM(2014) 272 final), and emphasises that there needs to be an appropriate balance between the audio-visual sector's value in a business and commercial sense and its value to Europe from a cultural heritage perspective. Intrinsically these two aspects cannot be dealt with separately.
It is high time that one or more innovative business models for the sector be openly discussed with a view to taking up opportunities existing within the digital world. The EESC therefore encourages the sector, the Commission and also national governments to be open and willing to discuss and promote such business models.
One common rule to apply in all Member States can be much simpler and more efficient than a complex web of varying rules. However, the challenge is to keep this legislation simple by making use of withdrawals, amendments and repeals.
The EESC proposes to reduce and standardise the range of different taxes, extend tax bases, align tax rates more closely, and strengthen cooperation and information exchange mechanisms in order to combat fraud and evasion.
Tax should be captured where the economic substance is located. Feeding into the current political discussion, the EESC equally calls to urgently eliminate practices used in the Member States to grant selected corporations special tax privileges. The Committee wants to involve citizens in combating the black economy, tax evasion and tax fraud by encouraging instruments such as service vouchers and forms of electronic payment that leave a trace.
The objective of the own-initiative opinion is to analyse the state of affairs of civil society in Russia and to elaborate recommendations on how the EU and EU civil society organization can contribute for improving the working conditions for civil society organizations in Russia and for the strengthening of genuine civil and social dialogue.
This opinion aims at exploring the obstacles to overcome and the conditions for developing quality services for the family in order to create decent and attractive jobs.
Previous work on the professionalisation of domestic work and on a family policy that tackles the challenge of demographic change need to be continued and updated by: revealing and describing the nature of the obstacles currently blocking the development and professionalisation of these jobs which; and making known positive experiences and good practices being implemented today in a number of Member States and major companies.
Following the event in Strasbourg, the EESC has launched the Social Enterprise Project to identify policy ideas and specific measures that can be taken.
Throughout the project, the EESC has gathered valuable input from people working in field across Europe, and met with stakeholders at local, regional, national and European level across sectors. There is a width and breadth of knowledge and experiences to be listened to and acted on. The social enterprise community of supporters is clearly expanding, and there appears to be a common view on what the EU institutions' key priorities should be for the coming years if we are to fully unleash the potential for social enterprise in European societies.
This stakeholder input is the foundation of this report and has been summarised in the form of recommendations and observations.
Europe 2020 and Horizon 2020 goals will not be reached without stronger input from female scientists. Today, only 20% of all professors and just 10% of university vice-chancellors are women. This issue is constantly raised by both civil society and EU institutions, yet there is a lack of focus on this topic. The opinion aims to analyse the reasons for the gender gap in science (especially in STEM fields) and tackle the main obstacles to gender equality in science. It will provide a thorough analysis of the education and science sectors in the EU in relation to gender and make recommendations to ensure the appropriate talent allocation, which will increase Europe’s talent pool, promote employability and innovation and benefit the economy.
The EESC fully supports the aim of the European Commission to rapidly create an optimal investment climate for RPAS production and operations activities in the EU. The Committee sees many resulting positive effects on direct and indirect employment and the associated increase in productivity in general.
The EESC considers the emergence of harmonised rules as a fundamental prerequisite for the use of small RPAS in the EU. This particularly concerns the safety and training requirements applied to RPAS operators. Appropriate rules and provisions are also needed for privacy, data protection, liability and insurance.
This new and innovative business segment is promising as a future contributor to growth and jobs: the EU is extraordinarily well placed to reap the benefits of a developing RPAS industry, which promotes Europe's role as a knowledge centre for technology and development. Existing European SME funding could further stimulate the development of this industry.