Traineeships have become an important gateway through which young people enter the labour market. However, although traineeships have become standard in European labour markets, their spread has been accompanied by growing concerns as to learning content and working conditions. To facilitate access to employment, traineeships should offer good quality learning content and adequate working conditions.
In several Eastern and Southern EU countries there is a steady flow of young people leaving their hometowns to find work in distant cities. This is a worrisome trend. An ever-increasing global food demand will require in the near future that all agricultural surfaces be cultivated.
To abandon large production areas is a luxury that the EU cannot afford. In order to attach young workers to their rural territories, or to bring them back if they are already gone, the availability of good job opportunities is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. Education and health services, ICT links, even cultural activities have to reach a minimum level that makes living in these places not only acceptable but indeed attractive.
The Commission launched the initiative "Opening up Education" to improve the use of Open Educational Resources and Massive Open Online Courses and the ICT infrastructure and connectivity in schools.
The EESC agrees that the digital approach in education improves its quality and creativity. Required will be the involvement of teachers and the mobilisation of all stakeholders. The initiative must be supported by EU and national funding and coordinated by the Commission. Students' social inclusion must be ensured.
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.