Since August 2020, the authoritarian regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko has carried out a mass attack on civil society, independent journalists, bloggers and writers in Belarus. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) published an information report on the political and media situation in the country, with a view to making recommendations on how to assist Belarusian media companies and journalists who have fled the country and, most importantly, those who are left behind fighting the regime.
With the threat of war at its doorstep, the Schengen area should be further strengthened through better police and judicial cooperation, with its internal borders kept open
The European Economic and Social Committee is calling on the European Commission to carry out more targeted impact assessments of its proposals for new EU budget funding sources to repay NextGenerationEU debt. The EESC generally agrees with the proposed EU "own resources" revenues for the budget. However, they need to be stable and fair – and should not burden households or businesses.
The EU's full range of competition policy tools - merger, antitrust and State aid control rules - and even its most basic concepts, such as market share, relevant markets and level-playing field, should be overhauled to serve the Union's climate and digital ambitions and the goal of resilience, which will require massive investment. Two new EESC opinions explain how this overhaul should be done.
In its resolution on the involvement of organised civil society in the implementation and monitoring of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) the European Economic and Social Committee calls for clear rules to effectively involve social partners and civil society organisations in the Member states' strategies to bring the economy back on track.
The May plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a debate led by its President Christa Schweng and the President of the European Council Charles Michel on Europe's response to this turning point in history.
The EESC president
The members of the European Economic and Social Committee condemn the unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Government and express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, calling for firm actions at both EU and national level in a spirit of unity at this dramatic time.
Ten years ago, the first Regulation on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) entered into application, launching a new era in the history of citizens’ participation. The 2022 edition of ECI Day will mark a special anniversary of this unique cross-border instrument.
Opinions in the spotlight
European Union statistics clearly show the enormous amounts of packaging materials currently used for the safety, hygiene, transportation, conservation, presentation and application of all kinds of goods – be they for industrial purposes, construction work, communication systems or individual consumption. Most of them are of carbonic or metallic origin, which are limited resources. A largely predominant part of the waste of these packaging materials can, and mostly do, have a negative environmental impact and may seriously endanger human health as well as animal and plant well-being.
The Communication on 8th Report presents the main changes in territorial disparities over the past decade and how policies have affected these disparities. It highlights the potential of the green and digital transitions as new drivers of EU growth, but argues that without appropriate policy action new economic, social and territorial disparities may appear.
The EESC considers that it is necessary to add new own resources to cover the debt repayment resulting from borrowing under the NextGenerationEU initiative without jeopardising the budgets of other EU programmes and instruments, or substantially increasing the Gross National Income (GNI)-based resource contribution.
The EESC considers that engaging in dialogue with civil society and social partners constitutes an effective way for policy-makers to understand the varying needs of people belonging to different social groups. There can be no room for repression of social dialogue and civil society dialogue in the EU. Consultation processes should also be easy to find and to access.
COVID-19 has shown how interconnected the world is. As part of global recovery, the EU wants to redesign how we connect the world to build forward better. The European model is about investing in both hard and soft infrastructure, in sustainable investments in digital, climate and energy, transport, health, education and research, as well as in an enabling environment guaranteeing a level-playing field.
The EESC highly appreciates the first activation of the Temporary Protection Directive 2001/55/EC in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The current activation of the Directive could well be used to develop solidarity mechanisms among the Member States. It strongly supports an urgent need for effective, genuine, humane – and humanitarian – common European regulations on migration, asylum and security cooperation in an open, but equally secure Schengen area, in full accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Through this Opinion, the EESC supports the proposal by the European Commission to extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech. It considers that the criteria set out in Article 83(1) of the TFEU for such an extension (significant developments in the area, a cross-border dimension, the need to act on a common basis) are met.