A number of topical industrial developments and trends are currently at the focus of attention. At the same time it should be recognised that people must live everywhere in Europe, including in many regions that these innovative trends are not likely to reach even in the next 50 years. Without undermining their importance and while supporting the political efforts promoting these trends, it is necessary to recall that these businesses are the key element in the creation of new activity and value in resource-constrained areas and are crucial to enhancing economic prosperity and cohesion across Europe. Against this background, the main objective of the opinion is to identify and analyse the particular challenges these businesses face and find solutions and possibilities to support them.
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Opinions in the spotlight
This own-initiative opinion is a joint proposal of the two EESC bodies with a cross cutting and horizontal approach: the SDO and the Europe 2020 Steering Committee (SC).
This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. For this reason, the EESC considers it essential to have a balanced mix of euro area economic policies, with their monetary, fiscal and structural components properly interlinked. The Committee notes the improving economic situation in the euro area and recommends that, in order to maintain and bolster this, crucial steps be taken to stimulate investment and carry out reforms, while also strengthening the social and democratic dimensions of euro area governance.
The Commission has identified three main strands of further work to move a step closer to a genuine Single Market for financial services:
Increase consumer trust and empower consumers when buying services at home or from other Member States.
Reduce legal and regulatory obstacles affecting businesses when seeking to expand abroad.
Support the development of an innovative digital world which can overcome some of the existing barriers to the Single Market.
The EESC believes that equal access to healthcare, one of the main objectives of health policies, can benefit from digital support provided certain conditions are met: equal geographical coverage; bridging the digital divide; interoperability among the various components of the digital architecture (databases, medical devices); and protection of health data which must under no circumstances be used to the detriment of patients. The EESC highlights the need to develop and facilitate people's digital health literacy to encourage a critical approach to health information and to support the development of a nomenclature of reimbursable treatments and wellbeing services
Many atypical forms of work are now being developed and the associated social risks should be dealt with by means of coordinated efforts by all stakeholders. Automation and robots are having an increasing impact on work. While they have the potential to stabilise the economy in an ageing society, they are also affecting jobs: it is therefore essential that social dialogue on this point takes place at an early stage. In future, lifelong learning and professional training will be a necessity for everyone, but long-term developments can best be tackled through general education.
At this time of far-reaching changes in the world of work, the key objectives and principles of social dialogue and collective bargaining still hold true. Their role is not to oppose changes, but to steer them for reaping the full benefits, whilst ensuring that fundamental workers' rights can still be asserted. There is a need for participative management, for collective rules to be drawn up, for the adaptation of social dialogue and to find innovative responses. Digitalisation and its effects on work is a priority
The Committee calls on the Member States to step up their efforts in combatting aggressive tax planning, along with tax avoidance that could lead to significant losses of revenue for Member States' budgets. The EESC believes that the harmonisation and simplification of tax rules should be a priority for the Member States and that the elimination of tax barriers should go hand in hand with these harmonisation efforts. The Committee proposes to extend the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) and recommends that Member States to look for solutions to implement the recommendations of the High Level Group on Own Resources. Finally, the EESC feels that the introduction of qualified majority voting in the field of direct taxation could support better the efforts to harmonise the rules on establishing the tax base for the main taxes.
The EESC endorses the aims of the Commission proposals in the area of the CCCTB and recommends the greatest efforts be made to pursue the CCCTB by consensus. The Committee recognizes that the Commission relaunched the CCCTB proposal both with the objective to aid the single market and to combat aggressive tax planning, attributing income where the value is created.