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The EESC notes that although economic recovery in the euro area has gathered pace since last year, it remains incomplete and atypical. It disagrees with the European Commission's proposal for an overall broadly neutral fiscal stance and instead proposes a positive fiscal stance of around 0.5% of GDP. It welcomes structural reforms that will not only increase productivity and growth potential, but also support the creation of quality jobs and reduce inequality. It supports the necessary steps for deepening the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as well as the measures against tax fraud and tax avoidance.
The EESC welcomes and supports the European Commission's decision to tackle the problem of intermediaries enabling aggressive tax planning. The Committee notes that the related administrative costs must be reduced to the furthest extent possible for all sizes of businesses and stresses that the taxpayer carries the ultimate responsibility to comply with the proposed directive.
With this amended proposal, the Commission proposes to extend the scope of the proposal for a Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods to cover also face-to-face sales.
Despite several initiatives over the past years, the landscape of the European defence industry is characterised by insufficient levels and quality of investment in the development and procurement of future capabilities. Member States are not cooperating enough, with more than 80% of procurement and more than 90% of Research and Technology run on a national basis. A high degree of fragmentation remains, with 178 different weapon systems in Europe compared to 30 in the US. Too little coordination in defence planning leads to an inefficient use of taxpayers' money, unnecessary duplication and suboptimal deployability of defence forces. There are wide differences in the level of defence spending between Member States. Enhanced solidarity, including through the involvement of the EU budget, is needed to deliver common defence capabilities.
The European defence policy was identified as a key political priority in President Juncker's political guidelines of July 2014. This should be also viewed in connection with the fact that after decades of peace and stability, the Union is facing increased instability and new emerging security threats. This changing security environment demonstrated in a clear way that only through joint efforts in investing in security development and cooperation at all levels can we deliver on the expectations of Union citizens and our partners. For Europe to take over more responsibility for its defence, it is crucial to improve competitiveness and enhance innovation across the Union defence industry.