This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. Against this background the Committee advocates the exploration of tools to improve economic governance in the EMU, for instance by creating a permanent Euro Finance Minister, while ensuring full democratic accountability. Bundling competences would enhance coherence of EMU policies.
Opinions in the spotlight
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. The Committee appreciates the fact that Member States are invited to promote the active involvement of social partners regarding apprenticeship schemes. Furthermore, the Committee also believes that apprentices themselves and other relevant stakeholders – such as youth and parent organisations and students' unions should also be actively involved. Also, the EESC considers that apprentices should be able to influence their learning experience, to create more productive learning experiences. The EESC also calls for initiatives that explore the potential of transnational mobility of apprentices in the EU.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - The Future of Food and Farming
Transport is a vital enabler of several SDGs. It contributes strongly to the SDGs regarding economic development, industry and SMEs, as well as trade and investment. Consequently, it also helps achieve the SDGs that aim to promote employment and well-being, and to reduce inequalities and exclusion. Meanwhile, transport presents many challenges with respect to the SDGs, such as the need to reduce climate and environmental impacts, to improve transport systems and traffic safety, and to manage concerns related to jobs and decent work.
The EESC calls on the Commission to prepare a new, integrated policy framework for the next generation of transport policy. Moreover, it calls on the Commission to assess the SDG indicators from the transport point of view and to enhance the development of indicators that are relevant, give a realistic and informative picture of developments, and are in line with the integrated approach.
The EESC underlines European territorial cooperation (ETC) is a unique instrument of cohesion policy and one of the very few frameworks in which national, regional and local players from different Member States are systematically called upon to carry out joint measures and exchange practices and strategies.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the fact that the European Commission has established a Digital Europe programme, which underscores the intention to make Europe a leading player in digitalisation and to increase its economic strength and competitiveness on the world stage. The aim of the Digital Europe programme is to enable a digital single market and to shape the digital transformation in a positive way for all citizens of Europe.
The EESC supports the intention of the Dutch Presidency of the Council to address poverty through integrated approaches and through cooperation between public and private stakeholders. However, to do so, Member States must be supported by a common European framework and best-practice actors by national anti-poverty strategies. The EU Council should reiterate the commitment made to meet Europe's poverty target by 2020.
The Committee welcomes the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It regards the adoption of this agenda together with the Paris COP 21 agreement on climate change as a big breakthrough in setting a global course of action to end poverty, promote prosperity for all and protect the planet's natural resources in an integrated way. The Dutch Presidency of the Council requested that the Committee draw up an exploratory opinion on how a mechanism for civil society involvement at EU level in the implementation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals could be practically set up.
The Committee recommends the creation of a European Sustainable Development Forum in partnership with the Commission and representatives from civil society as a platform involving a broad range of civil society organisations and stakeholders in setting the framework for the implementation of this agenda in the EU, and its ongoing monitoring and review.
"Nudges" are small, cheap, easily implemented solutions drawing from behavioural sciences to help people modify their individual behaviours. They consist in inducing towards the most reasonable or responsible option, without forbidding anything, through soft cognitive signals in a wide range of fields, including sustainability. This opinion looks at how to encourage nudging approaches at the European level.
The EESC believes that the fight against terrorism and its financing and efforts to combat money laundering and other related forms of economic crime should be permanent EU policy priorities. These efforts should be linked more closely with the efforts needed to combat tax fraud and tax avoidance. Therefore, the EESC considers creating public national registers of the beneficial owners of bank accounts, businesses, trusts and transactions, and access to them by obliged entities, to be a priority. Furthermore, all obligations laid down in the Anti Money Laundering Directive should be extended to all territories or jurisdictions whose sovereignty resides with the Member States. And free trade and economic partnership agreements should include a chapter on measures to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing, tax fraud and tax avoidance.