The opinion familiarizes the public with the phenomenon of collaborative consumption (CC). The document presents the conceptual approach and describes briefly best practices in CC. The EESC proposes also a general strategy for the sound development of CC in the EU. Given that CC covers mostly bottom-up initiatives, studies are needed before the appropriate regulations, rights and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved can be established.
Accessibility is not just a technical issue but a human right. The aim of this own-initiative opinion is to draw the attention of policy makers to the challenges and barriers that still exist for people with disabilities.
The EESC welcomes the special attention devoted to drawing up a European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), in order to support cohesion and competitiveness in the light of challenges that cannot be satisfactorily resolved by single regions or countries through the usual means. The EESC believes that EUSAIR must adopt a comprehensive programme with an action-oriented list of projects and schemes, and strongly recommends that better use be made of the private sector's potential to attract investment (both local and international) and to create business opportunities. Simultaneously, the strategy should include a stronger social dimension, in order to better support inclusive growth in the Adriatic and Ionian region.
Five years into the economic and financial crisis which spread from the United States to engulf Europe, it is all the more necessary to carry out a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the shadow economy and undeclared work in the European Union. The EESC calls for the fight against the shadow economy also to look beyond EU borders and for corporate social responsibility to be applied where minimum decent working standards are lacking in third countries subcontracting for EU companies.
Secure, efficient, competitive and innovative electronic payments are crucial for the Internal Market in all products and services, and this has an increasing impact as the world moves beyond bricks-and-mortar trade towards e-commerce. The two Commission proposals on card-based payment transactions will introduce maximum levels of interchange fees for transactions based on consumer debit and credit cards. The EESC wants to lower the caps for both credit and debit electronic payments, and include at the same level commercial cards. The proposal strengthens consumer rights concerning international money transfers and will also promote the emergence of new players and the development of innovative mobile and internet payment systems.
The EESC considers the APS as a first step forward, recognising the steel sector as a strategically important sector for Europe and a motor for growth. It will be judged on the way it is implemented. Not only on medium and long term as foreseen but also on what practical measures will be immediately decided. The opinion makes specific immediate suggestions to ensure that the sector remains strategic for the European manufacturing industry and employment.
The EESC welcomes the debate on social impact measurements for social enterprises. However it feels that an incorrect or rushed approach may counteract the EU Institutions’ aim to support the development of the social enterprise sector. The EESC therefore urges the Commission to prioritise further awareness-raising and full implementation of the Social Business Initiative agenda. It recommends that, rather than developing a new method, the Commission build awareness of the most commonly used principles.
The EESC believes that the Mediterranean Region needs a Macro-Regional Strategy (EU MMRS) to help the regions face challenges that cannot be satisfactorily resolved by single regions or countries through the usual means. Such a strategy would help the regions concerned to address the causes of uncertainty that dominate the Mediterranean region by increasing the value-added of the positive achievements of the initiatives already launched and the Europe 2020 goals. The success of the MMRS will also have a positive effect on the EU as a whole.
Comparable data on volunteering in the individual EU Member States has never been available. Such activities, however, represent real economic value and this data could provide a very useful tool for facilitating implementation of many social and economic policies. Therefore the Committee calls on the European Commission to work on a standardised methodology for research into volunteer work and to ensure its adoption by the Member States via an appropriate EU Regulation. In so doing, use should be made of the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work. The Commission should also introduce binding legal measures to enable the non-profit sector to co-finance public grants with the economic value of volunteer work.