In this booklet we briefly showcase how EESC members’ expertise makes a difference in each of the main policy EU areas it covers: economic, social, environmental and international. Committee members have reached out to young people in both schools and universities, listening to their views and harnessing their enthusiasm. The EESC has brought together people from all sectors of society to promote solidarity and thrash out solutions to the economic crisis, including innovative responses such as social entrepreneurship. It has encouraged high standards in business and stronger partnerships between politicians, industry and communities.
Overall, the EESC is working to strengthen dialogue and active citizenship, and to make Europe a better place to live. And the fact that every step is taken in consultation with organised civil society gives the Committee – and therefore the EU – an even greater democratic legitimacy.
Nearly half of all food gets wasted in the EU each year. This statistic is even more shocking when one considers that 79 million EU citizens live beneath the poverty line and some 16 million depend on food aid from charitable institutions. In 2011, in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, 24.2% of Europeans – 119.6 million people – were on the brink of social exclusion.
Food waste prevention and reduction strategies are vital in the wider context of food security – better resource management is needed to feed an ever-growing global population for example – but should also support the most deprived in society. In this respect, food banks can play a crucial role in the food donation process by recovering food from manufacturers, distributors, retailers or individuals (food still fit for consumption that might otherwise be wasted) and redistributing it to civil society organisations and social services.
European industry is a crucial part of the EU economy. Manufacturing still accounts for 80% of EU exports and ¼ of its employment. The goal of increasing manufacturing industry's share of EU GDP to 20% is still some way off. It currently sits at 15.1%. In order to increase this share, European industrial policy must be the focus of EU policy makers. The publication summarises a discussion entitled "Reinforcing European industrial competitiveness" organised by the EESC Employers' Group in November 2014 in Rome, Italy.
The EU is highly dependent on energy resources. More than a half of EU energy consumption is linked to imports. Increasing instability in the Middle East together with the deterioration of EU-Russia relations mean that energy security will remain at the top of the EU's agenda in the coming years. How can we achieve a true energy union? How can interconnectivity be increased between Member States? What should the ideal energy mix look like and how can energy efficiency be increased within the EU? The publication summarises the debate that seeks answers to these questions. The discussion was organised by the EESC Employers' Group in November 2014 in Zagreb, Croatia.
At a time when the European Parliament has just started a new term and the European Commission has a new team in place, the European Economic and Social Committee is continuing to move forwards as a committed partner of the Latvian Presidency. As the representative of European civil society, our committee has recently seen confirmation of its key role in building a more democratic European Union in the European Parliament report that has recognised its work as being critical to the success of the European citizens’ initiative. And this is the path on which we wish to continue.
This study examines whether it would be appropriate to introduce a guaranteed minimum income (GMI) at European level. It begins by describing the features of GMI systems implemented in the Member States for individuals of working age who are fit for work as well as the challenges they encounter and current trends. The study then looks at the legal feasibility of a binding European instrument relating to GMI schemes. A careful analysis both of institutional initiatives (Commission, Council) and of Community legislation shows that Article 153(1)(h) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, on the integration of persons excluded from the labour market, might provide a promising legal basis for future EU initiatives in this area. The financial cost of a revaluation of national GMIs has also been analysed in accordance with various scenarios, taking into account poverty lines and GMI take-up. This cost, estimated at the very least to be EUR 17.2 billion, should be borne by a European social solidarity fund either financed by the European Union or co-financed by the EU and the Member States. Alternative sources of financing are also put forward.
Economic and social councils, the institutionalised platforms for social and civic dialogue in the European Union and in most of its Member States, show a broad range of diversity – in set-up, composition and name. This patchwork of practices seems to stem from political, social and economic traditions in the various countries. Another source of variation is the opinion on who is considered a social partner and on how they should be represented in an institutionalised platform.
In this report 21 national social and economic councils have been examined. This concerns Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Spain.
In first instance, these national social and economic councils have been analysed on their mission and approach. Secondly, there has been an identification of the membership and representation in the different councils and the position of NGOs or representative groupings as a full member. At last, there has been an assessment of the role and implication of NGO in the programming of European Structural Funds on a national level.
The objective of this study is to facilitate food donation in the EU by providing a comparative overview of relevant legislation and practices in the Member States, mapping any hurdles they present to efficient food donation and identifying best practices.
The event will stimulate a debate on the impacts of climate change on employment and the ways in which climate change is being addressed from a labour perspective. It will highlight the increasingly important role of the social partners, workers and employers organizations, in the dialogue on climate policy, and address possibilities for strengthening the decent work dimension in the future climate agreement.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is an advisory body of the European Union which represents Europe's organised civil society. The EESC has 353 members from the 28 Member States, divided into 3 groups representing employers, workers and other civil society stakeholders, in particular professional and community associations, youth organisations, women's groups, consumers and environmental campaigners.
Following the great success of the first edition of this innovative guide to the terminology of sustainable construction in the EU, the EESC together with its partner CEMBUREAU and European Architects' Council has improved and updated the publication and is now launching the 2nd edition, both as a practical printed spiral bound booklet and an online and mobile version.
In response to the need for more sustainable construction, new concepts, phrases, terms and expressions are being used in the construction industry across Europe. These concepts are aimed at improving the environmental, social and economic impact of the industry and its outputs. From Air Source Heat Pumps to Net Zero Carbon Buildings; from Whole Life Costing to Photovoltaic Electricity; from Recycled Resources to Passive House; it is important that the industry reaches a common understanding of these terms – to speak a common language for sustainable construction – in order to provide a base for harmonised development in the future.
Second Edition for this version only