The EESC has in numerous opinions urged for a fair, efficient and growth-friendly corporate tax system, based on the principle that companies should pay taxes in the country where profits are generated. Thus, the Committee welcomes the Commission’s initiatives intended to combat aggressive tax planning and broadly supports the proposed measures as regards the essential elements of the two legislative proposals, the Anti-Tax-Avoidance-Directive as well as the Directive on Administrative Cooperation. It advocates for a more precise scope and framework in certain specific areas (such as e.g. the switch-over clause). The Committee urges to finish drawing up the list of countries or regions which refuse to apply good governance standards and considers that the envisaged legislative measures should not apply to SMEs. Last but not least, the EESC recommends to set a shorter deadline for implementing these rules which implement the commitments made during the negotiations on the OECD's BEPS process uniformly across the EU.
The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits. The opinion on the Commission's circular economy package includes a number of key recommendations, in particular addressing the Action Plan and upcoming legislative initiatives; among these recommendations, the EESC suggests the creation of a European platform of stakeholders involved in the circular economy to address strategic issues associated with the resource-efficiency transition and keep the political momentum high.
The opinion, as adopted by the SOC section, recalled that labour mobility is a cornerstone of the internal market and can help to bring employment opportunities and prosperity to European citizens and companies. When conducted under fair conditions and when it offers a positive option, such mobility can be enriching and beneficial for workers, employers and society as a whole.
Therefore, special effort is needed to guarantee and promote the free movement of workers in the EU abolishing any discrimination based on nationality, avoiding unjustified restrictions for both workers and businesses.
EU Member States face the arrival of many refugees, who need to be integrated into the host societies once their protected status is granted. The EESC is convinced that integration is a necessity for the preservation of social cohesion. This exploratory opinion, drawn up at the request of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, clarifies the meaning of "integration" and looks at comparability with previous refugee movements, successful integration measures applied in the various EU member states, and the financing of integration measures for refugees, resulting in a set of best practices and recommendations.
The EESC endorses the proposal for a Directive and suggests other measures which it considers could contribute towards increasing citizens' security: the possibility of placing indelible marks on bullets, which facilitates the traceability of arms and ammunition; making data available on interoperable databases at European level; the introduction of a gun buy-back programme; and reviewing the risks related to 3D printing of lethal weapons, without any possibility of verification or traceability.
In this Opinion on two proposals for directives (on supply of digital content and online sales), the Committee disagrees with the legal basis chosen by the Commission and proposes Article 169 TFEU instead; as a consequence, the Committee thinks that the measures adopted should be based on minimum harmonisation and would have preferred the use of a regulation instead of a directive.
The European Economic and Social Committee has been supporting the idea of a European Energy Union from its first inception as a European Energy Community in 2010. The annual State of the Energy Union report is also broadly welcomed by the EESC as a means to keep energy at the top of the political agenda across the European Union and ensure coordinated progress across sectors and Member states. The 2015 version of the State of the Energy Union is a snapshot taken only nine months after the launch of the Energy Union programme, limiting the reports' usefulness to judge progress made towards the Energy Union. However, as is noted in the opinion, the report's publication provides the EESC a welcome opportunity to identify particular aspects in advancing and governing the Energy Union that are of particular importance to Europe's civil society. Most notably, the opinion emphasises the social dimension and implications of the Energy Union process and its adequate reflection in the progress reporting and statistical measurement. Moreover, the EESC expresses its concern about the limited extent and underspecified ways in which civil society is to be involved in the governance and progress reporting of the Energy Union. Finally, the statistical foundations of the progress reporting are – in the opinion of the EESC – in dire need of improvement in order to avoid evaluating progress and taking decisions on the basis of at times outdated and at other times incomprehensive or even non-existent data.
The European Commission review of EU trade strategy is timely in the first year of a new Commission.
The intense public interest that has been aroused by the TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US demonstrates that trade is no longer an esoteric matter nor the concern of those few who are sufficiently involved to master the finer, highly technical detail that trade involves. It is now a popular issue and part of the public agenda, but because of its technicalities it is also open to wide misunderstanding.
The opinion concerns two EC proposals, implementing the European Security Agenda: the proposal for a directive on combatting terrorism and the action plan against trafficking in firearms and explosives. The opinion is based on previous EESC work and its usual focus on protection of fundamental rights. The main conclusions concern the common policy against terrorism and the shared competence of the EU and the Member States, as well as the definitions of terrorist acts and types of them, terminology, the issue of anticipated crime and other risks of collision between security and human rights.
The euro area needs to step up its external representation. This will strengthen its relative weight in international financial institutions and give it a more prominent position in international financial markets. The EESC endorses the rationale behind the two Commission documents and agrees with the main elements of the three-phase scenario to gain a single euro area chair at the IMF by 2025. At the same time, however, the EESC proposes that the Commission also draft scenarios for making stronger and more effective the links with other relevant international bodies, taking particular account of their remits. The EESC also recommends clearly and explicitly defining the roles of euro area external representation and their dovetailing with those of the EU as a whole, with a view to preserving the integrity of the single market.