The EESC endorses the European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility (the strategy), including its aims and methods, and its holistic approach, which provides coherence between transport and other policy areas. It would have liked this approach to be further developed in terms of the links between the strategy and the communication on the upgrading of the internal market. This also applies with regard to the prospects of the digital economy and the development of a sharing economy and a circular economy. It underscores the potential effects of these developments on transport patterns, and draws attention to their social implications.
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The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) endorses the priorities set out in the European Commission's 2017 Annual Growth Survey.
The European Semester is seen as a good instrument for further progress in policies and reform, leading to recovery and employment. The AGS 2017 outlines the most pressing economic and social priorities, accompanied by specific recommendations, however the EESC takes very seriously the negative aspects of the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact and Country-Specific Recommendations applied at national level to set the euro area fiscal stance.
This exploratory opinion was drawn up at the request of the European Commission in the framework of the mid-term evaluation of the LIFE programme over the 2014-2020 period. It reiterates the support of the European civil society in favour of an independent budget line dedicated to the environment and looks at possible options for improving LIFE after 2020.
The EESC appreciates the European Commission's effort to apply an economic policy that focuses on supporting the strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth of the euro area as well as a balanced mix of monetary, fiscal and structural instruments in order to achieve this, including a positive fiscal stance.
The EESC welcomes the Commission proposal for a Council Directive to improve double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms in the EU. Double taxation is one of the biggest tax obstacles to the Single Market. There is an urgent need for mechanisms ensuring that cases of double taxation are resolved more quickly and more decisively when they arise between Member States. Therefore it is urgent to implement this proposal.
The EESC is pleased that the Maltese Presidency has chosen "High quality education for all" as an priority theme. However, the EESC fears that the value of this initiative could be lost when austerity measures still apply to many of our societies, hindering them to fully benefit from high quality education. Europe should not forget the essential role played by high quality education for all in building up a European society committed to upholding fundamental rights and values.
The EESC welcomes the New Skills Agenda for Europe. However, it wishes to see more innovative solutions in the fields of education and skills development, as Europe needs a genuine paradigm shift in the goals and functioning of the education sector. The EESC considers that helping individuals to acquire a minimum set of skills is not enough, and that it is crucial to ensure that a Skills Guarantee becomes a guaranteed pathway that enables people to advance and reach the highest achievable level of skills. The Committee calls for more focus on social and gender perspectives, non-formal and informal learning and entrepreneurship as a life skill. It also regrets the lack of new financing to back up the Agenda and encourages more dialogue with organised civil society.
The EESC advocates the creation of an integrated European fund to combat poverty and social exclusion, based on the experiences of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The current use of the ESF and the FEAD in the Member States should be monitored more effectively and the process should involve civil society organisations. Member States should make greater use of global grants and regranting, and treat in-kind contributions on an equal footing with financial contributions. A greater share of the resources allocated to operational programmes should be earmarked for projects with smaller budgets. The EESC is ready to develop – in cooperation with CSOs – a consultation platform to ensure better coordination of ESF and FEAD interventions and to enable discussion on the basic principles of a future integrated EU fund.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) believes that the European Agenda on Migration should be designed so as to take into full consideration the humanitarian dimension of its scope, and the EU should not forget its fundamental commitments and legally binding rules to protect lives and human rights, especially of people in danger. The EESC supports the vision to provide a long-term response to migration, addressing the root causes of migration and creating a dialogue with third countries based on cooperation and shared responsibility. Tailored and specific agreements with each country, with full respect of human rights are also supporter. Flexibility provides the right perspective and combination of actions and incentives.