2015 is marked as the European Year for Development (when the process of discussion for the post-Cotonou arrangements will begin to gain momentum), but also as the year where the Millenium Development Goals (defined until 2015) will give way to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To combine development and sustainability, all available resources of financing must be explored. The magnitude of this challenge is so large that all players including governments, private sector, banks, civil society organisations and development agencies must contribute to the implementation of these goals.
This opinion should present the position, proposals and recommendations from the civil society represented in the EESC in order to bring improvements into the financing to development, including the role played by the private sector. It could also represent the EESC position vis-à-vis the Commission Communication "A Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015" (published on 05/02/15) as regards the financing to development.
The own-initiative opinion will focus on the impact of the TTIP on SMEs and reflect on the provisions that would need to be included in the TTIP in order to take account of the specific character of SMEs in the negotiations and implementation of an eventual EU-US agreement. The opinion will also look at how to increase the awareness of SMEs as to existing support services and programmes, and particularly about the new business opportunities that may arise with this agreement.
The EESC wants the conditions be created for an efficient, modern financial services sector with appropriate regulations, which grants access to capital providers by companies seeking investment, especially SMEs and high growth companies, and finds it of utmost importance to overcome the current fragmentation of the markets.
Since a Capital Markets Union (CMU) is to a significant extent a reality for large companies, the EESC stresses the need for measures that will also allow SMEs to benefit from it, for example through accepting simplified standardised criteria for registration on regulated markets, and providing a definition of an emerging growth and high growth company and devoting special attention to the needs of such companies on the capital market.
The EESC furthermore highlights the importance of traditional banking for the stability of the financial system and affirms that sustainable high quality securitisation calls for promoting basic structures with short intermediation chains.
The EESC considers that smart cities can become drivers for development of a new European industrial policy that can influence the development of specific productive sectors, extending the benefits of the digital economy onto a large scale. To achieve this, it is essential to converge towards a development model that is more advanced and effective than those applied to date, which have been characterised by extremely fragmented action.
The EESC endorses the Energy Union and considers its implementation urgent – this could lead to making energy the fifth EU freedom. At the same time, the Committee stresses the need for a clearer message a leading vision – on what European citizens and enterprises will gain from the Energy Union. It also underlines that the Commission, when preparing proposals for reviews of energy legislation, as outlined in the roadmap, should avoid inconsistencies and increasing costs but rather try to simplify processes. The Committee recommends that the most urgent priority, notwithstanding the importance of security of supply and the sustainability, should be action on energy costs.
The Neighbourhood policy is high on the agenda of the EESC's external relations priorities. This opinion will provide the contribution of the Committee to this consultation process as a first step, to be followed by a reaction to the Commission document that will be issued in the 2nd semester of 2015.
The EESC is of the opinion that persisting imbalances as well as the creation of trust and confidence across Europe require more effective and democratic economic governance, notably in the Eurozone. It has become clear that the current system of rules underpinning the EU, and particularly the euro area, has created confusion on the legal, institutional and democratic fronts. A new approach is therefore needed. With this in mind, the Committee presents its contribution to the new five presidents' report which will propose next steps on better economic governance to the European Council in June. The EESC contribution summarises the different stages and puts forward institutional proposals and preparatory initiatives regarding the completion of the political pillar of the Economic and Monetary Union.
The Food and drink Industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the EU economy employing directly 4.25 million workers in the EU. It is a non-cyclical and resilient pillar with a strong presence in all member states. It processes 70% of EU agriculture produce and provides safe, quality and nutritious food to the benefit of European consumers, besides being the largest global exporter of food and drink products. The sector generates 7% of EU GDP and should be an important contributor to achieve the EU target set in the 2020 strategy of achieving the necessary expansion of the manufacturing sector that will make it a contributor of 20% of European GDP.
Key competitiveness indicators show that the sector is losing its competitive edge. An EESC own –initiative opinion will help make the case with the EU Commission for a sectoral focus on the sector. It will indicate those measures necessary to reverse this negative trend and to enhance the sector’s competitiveness both in the Internal Market and in the Global market. The main thrust will be focused on the creation of sustainable employment all along the food supply chain, encouraging and facilitating new investment, promoting innovation policies and enhancing export performance.
The EESC welcomes the Proposal for a Directive presented by the European Commission, through which the Commission is continuing to implement the measures included in the action plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion. Information on advance tax rulings and advance pricing arrangements is very important and can help the Member States to trace artificial transactions. The EESC recommends that the Member States make efforts to ensure that the provisions of the proposal for a directive are transposed correctly.
The Employment Guidelines cover job creation, skills supply, well-functioning labour markets, social protection and fighting poverty. They should set quantified objectives for employment and poverty reduction, and support entrepreneurship and the social economy. Public investment should not be considered as expenditure. Workers' mobility should safeguard the transferability of their social rights.