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The hearing is part of the preparation of an initiative opinion on the same subject.

To meet the goals of the EU ambition to become a "recycling society" the Commission has asked external experts to consider a feasible system for incentives, based on the polluter-pays-principle for end-of-life ships and applicable to all ships entering EU ports. That system will be presented at the end of this year. The EESC intends to issue an opinion on this subject.


On 29 April 2016, the EESC's TEN Section project delegation conducted a study visit in La Rochelle to discover some of the inspirational smart city initiatives that have been implemented so far.

The delegation had the opportunity to make a technical visit to find out, inter alia, about the Atlantech project.


516th Plenary Session, with a debate on the Energy Union initiative on 28 April at 10.30 a.m., with Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the European Commission, responsible for the Energy Union


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The organisation and provision of long-term care (LTC) is a challenge many Member States are facing. The sector is low paid, highly feminised and employs often undocumented migrant workers. It suffers from workforce imbalances and skills shortages. Situations of undeclared work and poor working conditions affect mainly "live-in" care workers. Proactive measures to encourage the creation of quality, well-paid jobs in the sector with decent working conditions are needed to ensure an adequate labour supply for the LTC sector. The public hearing - which will contribute to the opinion on the subject - will elaborate on the human and social rights of "live-in" care workers in the context of labour supply and mobility issues. It will explore these issues in the interplay of labour and migration policies.


The hearing allowed aviation stakeholders to come together and shape concrete proposals for successful implementation of the aviation strategy, in order to inform the EESC's forthcoming opinion on this issue.

From agricultural to food policy – Towards healthy and sustainable production and consumption

On Thursday 21 April, the EESC's Various Interests Group has held an extraordinary meeting at the Dutch Economic and Social Council (Sociaal-Economische Raad/SER) in The Hague. The conference was entitled From agricultural to food policy – Towards healthy and sustainable production and consumption.


The digital revolution is bringing about changes in modes of production and patterns of consumption, in how we understand the world, in how we govern, and even in how we live together in society. The digital economy is, however, a double-edged sword. It presents risks as well as opportunities, and chances for inclusion as well as exclusion; it provides new prospects for growth within our territory, for us as well as for international players preying on our markets.Concrete action is needed to tip the scales on the positive side.


On 20th April 2016, a delegation of EESC Members of the "Transport, energy, infrastructures and information society" section went on mission to the Egadi Islands (IT), with the objective to evaluate the islands' use of local resources. With 54 000 hectares, the Egadi Islands constitute the most important marine reserve of the EU. Welcomed by M Giuseppe Pagoto, Mayor of Favignana and M Stefano Donati, Director of the Protected Marine Area of the Egadi Islands, EESC Members had a fruitful exchange of views with local stakeholders including citizens. The EESC delegation visited four projects developed in the island: a photovoltaic plant managed by the municipality, the Posidonia's pilot project managed by the Protected Marine Area, a marine rescue centre opened to fishermen, the conversion of an old tuna factory into a museum of archaeology supported by the Region of Sicilia, and a project combining water supply and waste reduction.


The ECI DAY serves as a meeting place and platform for the registered and future ECI organisers to meet and exchange information and experiences, and present their ECIs to the media.

The 2016 edition will focus on the ways of dealing with the identified difficulties, also to emphasize why the simplification of the rules is indispensable. The organisers will find out more about the help available, about what instruments are out there to maximize the impact of their initiatives. Finally, a broader context of participatory democracy in the EU will be drawn with information on the existing tools.


The consequences of the financial and economic crisis has triggered considerable changes in the ways in which services of general interest (SGIs) are provided and financed, incentivising providers to explore new modes and mechanisms to keep delivering affordable services without impacting the quality of services. Overall, an increased involvement of private players in the provision of SGIs through outsourcing and public-private partnerships (PPPs) has happened, driven by efficiency and budgetary concerns. On the financing side, there have been significant budget cuts, particularly in sectors such as education and healthcare, while new investments are needed. This has raised questions on the use of new financing modes, such as project financing and the use of new financial instruments.