This brochure is based on the 2013 Annual Activity Report issued in June 2014.
In line with the EESC's mission statement, this report aims to highlight what we are doing and why we are doing it!
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
How do Europeans go a-wooing? Probably in much the same way as everyone else, although obviously down the ages every country and culture has had – and still has – its own courtship manuals. Thus were born great myths, with the Mediterranean “type” raising the greatest expectations of all, in the guise of the Latin lover, the legendary Don Juan, or the beauty and bohemian spirit of the Spanish señora, not to mention the refinement of French ladies or the rather wild allure of some Balkan and eastern peoples, in contrast to the aplomb and elegance of English lovers and the cool nonchalance of Nordic women.
This publication is part of a series of catalogues published in the context of the exhibitions organized by the EESC.
This study provides a comparative overview of current legislation and practices concerning food donation in the EU Member States (MS) by mapping key hurdles preventing food donation, by identifying best practices in the field and by developing recommendations on how to legislate or interpret legislation in order to facilitate food donation. The study investigates five main legislative areas impacting food donation (product liability, food safety and hygiene, food durability and date marking, tax legislation, and the food waste hierarchy) in 12 Member States selected with balanced geographic representation across the EU (the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Denmark and Sweden). The study illustrates that Denmark, Spain and Sweden still impose VAT on food donation and that only France and Spain have corporate tax benefits in place to incentivise food donation. The study also shows that there is a general confusion with regards to the donation of foods exceeding their ‘best before’ dates and a general interest for legislation limiting liability for food donors (such as the Good Samaritan Law in Italy). The study recommends clarification around VAT liability on donated food and EU guidelines for assessing additional lifetime of products.
In 2013 the European Economic and Social Committee’s Permanent Study Group on the Transport White Paper commissioned IFOK with drawing up a study on civil society involvement in European transport policies and projects. The aim of the study is to identify existing good practices in the field and, building on their assessment, to develop possible approaches for the EESC by which it can contribute to more participatory decision-making. Additionally, the study identifies a possible process for the development of a set of guidelines on civil society’s and citizens’ involvement in European transport policy and projects.
The study draws both on research and interviews conducted specifically for it, and on IFOK’s wide-ranging expertise and long-standing experience in the design and implementation of tailored participative, deliberative and consultative processes. It is intended for policy and decision-makers, and civil society representatives, both within and beyond the EESC. As such it has been written from a user’s perspective, focussed on providing practical and actionable insights and expertise.
The four case studies spotlight some of the wealth of different methods available for involving citizens and civil society in transport projects and policies. Importantly, they highlight eight lessons learned. Most notable amongst them is the value of an early and substantive involvement of all relevant stakeholders, the centrality of transparency and active communication about the process and its outcomes, and the essentiality of ensuring the process has an impact.
In the toolbox of approaches for effective participatory decision-making, five tailored possible approaches for the involvement of citizens and civil society have been developed for the EESC. The range from low-hanging fruits – easy and quick wins for greater civil society involvement in the EESC’s work – to more ambitious processes, or ones specifically tailored for certain policy fields. All highlight the central role of the EESC in bringing in civil society’s voice into European policy and decision-making, and show how this can be done in an even more collaborative manner.
The concept put forward for the development of a set of guidelines for civil society and citizen involvement in European transport policies and projects makes use of the learning and expertise captured in the study. It highlights how the benefits of deliberation and participation can be captured by the EESC as it works to establish a more cooperative decision-making in Europe.
The following study gives an overview of the current economic and social situation in Austria, with a particular focus on explaining the Austrian labour relations model and the importance of social partnership and its role in developments since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008-2009.
Austria is an interesting case study in the context of the continuing difficulties the EU faces and the wide disparities between Member States in terms of recent trends and current situation. The main socio-economic indicators presented show Austria's position to be broadly satisfactory, especially compared with the rest of the euro area. Some years after the peak of the financial and economic crisis, Austria's GDP per capita is very high, employment is high and unemployment relatively low. Austria's positive economic ranking is partly due to its strong situation before the crisis and partly to subsequent trends. Over the longer term, Austria has benefited from above-average growth, which can be attributed in part to its efficient institutions and ability to adapt to changing conditions and in part to the positive impact of EU eastern enlargement and the country's geographical location in a strong and dynamic economic region.
Radical labour market reforms were implemented in Germany between 2002 and 2005, reforms that overturned the received idea that Germany was suffering from "reform paralysis". However, the part of these reforms that specifically concerned labour law was very small; their main purpose was to overhaul the social security and activation system for the unemployed and others of working age who are in need of support in line with a "work first" strategy. These reforms were extremely controversial and changed the party-political landscape in Germany.
Shortly after the reforms were introduced, a trend reversal took place on the German labour market: unemployment fell, employment with mandatory social insurance contributions picked up again, and the German labour market proved extraordinarily resilient through the 2008-2009 financial and economic crisis. Since then, the German economy has been so strong as to arouse increasing concern about economic imbalances within Europe. At the same time, however, neighbouring European countries are endeavouring to emulate Germany's supposed path to success by implementing "structural reforms" along the lines of the German model, in the hope of achieving similar results.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!“ was the first successful ECI, achieving over 1.6 million validated signatures from across 13 Member States. The Initiative called upon the Commission to “implement the human right to water and sanitation in European law“.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential for governance improvements in the internal market with a view to removing bureaucratic hurdles for business. Its conclusion is that the European Commission, although active in cutting red tape in EU legislation, is not intervening yet in the case of gold-plating, which is over-compliance at the national/regional/local level. A key problem with gold-plating is precisely its tendency to overlap across multiple layers of competence. Gold-plating does happen and in certain cases undermines European competitiveness.