You are here
Opinions in the spotlight
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to the ongoing reflection on the modernisation and simplification of the CAP post 2020. A reshaped CAP must retain the positive aspects of the current policy and adopt new measures to deal with the new challenges which include societal demands for the delivery of public goods, the EU commitments under the United Nations SDGs, climate change commitments under the COP21, bilateral trade deals and market volatility. A reshaped CAP must also get the correct balance between the needs of the consumer, taxpayers and producers.
The EESC supports the Commission's proposal to expand the scope of controls and the competency of the authorities in order to conduct checks and confiscate goods, whenever there is a reasonable indication of illicit activities. The EESC recommends to improve cooperation, both between the competent authorities and between Member States and suggests that penalties should be harmonised across Member States and communicated to the Commission in a coherent way. The Committee also proposes that, in addition to gold, other "highly liquid commodities" should be included in the definition of cash from the moment the new regulation is adopted and it draws attention to the threat of further use of pre-paid cards by criminals and terrorists to covertly finance their activities.
The EESC considers the intention to create ETIAS as a currently inevitable step corresponding to the threats caused by external and internal circumstances. ETIAS should be based on the right balance between risks and safety, at the same time avoiding increased administrative burdens and barriers for people travelling to the EU. The Committee stresses that ETIAS should fully respect the fundamental rights of applicants and avoid any discrimination. All data gathered by the system must be protected and access to it should be strictly limited. All applicants should be allowed to use the services of intermediaries to obtain the travel authorisation, if needed. However, the costs charged by these intermediaries for their services should be monitored and evaluated by EU delegations in the third countries.
The EESC welcomes the "clean energy" package, which aims to accelerate, transform and consolidate the EU economy's clean energy transition, while pursuing the important goals of economic growth and job creation. The proposed package includes important proposals in the areas of renewable energies and electricity market design and regulation, energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings, energy innovations, transport, and governance – and the Committee views many of the initiatives favourably. However, the opinion – drawing on nine other opinions concerned with the individual proposals of the clean energy package – also identifies a number of challenges that civil society and co-legislators need to be aware of.
The EESC proposes an EU Platform For Change ("Platform"), to address gender equality in transport, initially prioritising increasing women's employability in the sector. This initial objective could later be supplemented by including "women as users". Membership could include, but not exclusively, EU- and national-level representative bodies of policy makers, the transport industries, their trade unions, media, passenger organisations and NGOs willing to commit to concrete actions to address gender inequality in transport.
The EESC very much welcomes the Commission’s package of proposals and hopes that it will contribute effectively to complementing the work done after the crisis to reform the financial sector. The Committee welcomes the underlying holistic and integrated approach and believes that the proposed measures will undoubtedly help strengthen Europe’s prudential and resolution framework for banks. The Committee also these proposals will enable progress to be made not only in further advancing the Banking Union, but also in implementing its third pillar, the European Deposit Insurance Scheme and that certain specific adjustments in the proposals should facilitate the pursuit of a Capital Markets Union.
In the opinion on "Inclusive Islands" drawn up at the request of the Maltese Presidency of the EU, the EESC identifies permanent solutions for islands to address their structural difficulties. Europe's islands are home to over 21 million people. They account for approximately 4% of the EU-28's total population. There is therefore an urgent need for the adoption of an integrated policy framework to address the economic, social and territorial cohesion issues faced by European islands. The EESC calls for a greater effort to be undertaken by the EU to recognise the uniqueness of the challenges facing islands.
The EESC is committed to open and fair trade and recognises its value as a driver of growth and jobs. Therefore, the EESC calls for a level playing field between European and third country exporting producers, and for effective trade defence instruments. The EESC supports the Commission's proposal that the dumping margin should be calculated not using the standard methodology, but on the basis of benchmarks that take account of significantly distorted production and sale costs. The EESC points out that in its 2016 opinion on preserving sustainable jobs and growth in the steel industry, it already called for the standard methodology not to be used in anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into Chinese imports as long as the country failed to meet the EU's five criteria for market economy status. The EESC welcomes the Commission's intention of using specific criteria to determine whether there are significant distortions in the market situation.