As international and regional players gather in Brussels for the second Conference co-chaired by the EU and the UN on Supporting the future of Syria and the region, the newly elected President of the European Economic and Social Committee Luca Jahier urged the EU to do whatever it takes to bring change for the millions of civilians at risk in the war-torn country.
The EMU needs a common strategic vision, efficient governance mechanisms and a clear social dimension
Italy’s Luca Jahier has been elected as the 32nd president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the EU body representing organised civil society, which he will head for the next two and a half years. The two new vice-presidents will be Milena Angelova (Bulgaria) for budget and Isabel Caño Aguilar (Spain) for communication. Read the inaugural speech.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has used an own-initiative opinion to call for sufficient funding resources to be put in place for implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. Adopted at its plenary session on 19 April 2018, the opinion calls for improvements in the Member States and a robust commitment in terms of budget, investment and current spending to make the Social Pillar a reality.
EESC opinion calls for strong industrial and manufactory policy based on reciprocity
EU accession remains a key motivation for reforms in the countries of the Western Balkans
Making a reality of the European Pillar of Social Rights (the "Social Pillar") will require improvements in Member States and a robust budgetary base, investment and current spending.
The EESC considers that the strong position of the European industry must be maintained and used to accelerate, transform and consolidate the EU economy's clean energy transition, with the important goal of achieving leadership in new technologies on the world market.
The Committee welcomes the general technology-neutral approach, notes, however, that it is far from sure that our future mobility will be all-electric, and other propulsion technologies, such as hydrogen or completely fossil-free liquid fuels, also provide big potential for clean mobility.
In response to the European Commission's communication on "Strengthening Europe's energy networks" (COM(2017)718 final), the European Economic and Social Committee shares the view that a sufficiently interconnected European energy grid is a prerequisite for achieving the aim of the Energy Union: to provide affordable, secure and sustainable energy that makes the energy transition to a low-carbon economy possible in a competitive way; considers that investments in grid infrastructure should be implemented with the same intensity as other energy investments, and in particular in coordination
The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the opportunity to provide an opinion on the Third report on State of the Energy Union by the European Commission, as it did before for the first and second reports. As expressed in previous opinions, the EESC strongly supports the idea of a European Energy Union and would like to stress that the Energy Union is not only relevant to sectoral policies such as energy, transport and climate but offers opportunities to make Europe more democratic, more cohesive, more competitive, and more just.
The EESC welcomes the efforts made by the EC to address the persistent pay gap between men and women by proposing an Action Plan with eight areas for action, but finds that each area should be further developed. It is important to look at the stereotypes that affect career choices, as well as to the underlying causes of labour market segregation, in order to counter them. It agrees with the EC proposal for pay transparency and pay audits to be introduced in order to facilitate the collection of individualised data and develop appropriate action plans at sector and business level.
The EESC appreciates the proposed roadmap for completing the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) but its support is not full and enthusiastic, since a number of social, political and economic issues, highlighted in our previous opinions, were not taken into consideration. The completion of the EMU requires first of all strong political commitment, efficient governance and better use of the available finances, in order to actually cope with both risk reduction and risk sharing among Member States.
The EU has one of the world's most open investment regimes, and collectively EU Member States have the fewest restrictions in the world on foreign direct investment (FDI). The OECD expressly acknowledged this in its FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index which measures statutory barriers against foreign investment in over 60 countries.
At the request of the future Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU (January-June 2018), the EESC was asked to prepare an exploratory opinion on the challenges and priorities countries of the Western Balkans are facing in the European integration process, as well as in the area of economic and social cohesion. Western Balkans will be one of the policy priorities of the Bulgarian presidency and a Western Balkans Summit is scheduled to take place in May 2018 in Sofia.
The EESC welcomes the Commission’s proposals and recommends that they be swiftly adopted and implemented by the Member States. The Committee agrees with the Commission's proposal to allow Member States to use two reduced VAT rates and recommends that the Member States continue to apply reduced rates to certain classes of goods and services of general interest.
In its opinion, the EESC acknowledges the positive role that apprenticeships can play in improving employability and providing for skills that are relevant to the labour market, for both young persons and adults.