Welcomed as a much-needed addition to the European response to health emergencies, the Commission's proposal on HERA, the EU's new authority for countering cross-border health threats, still has much room for improvement. Critics object to its lack of ambition, limited transparency and insufficient independence, which some fear may lead to it caving in to the pharmaceutical industry instead of serving the public interest
New financial instruments are needed if the social economy is to keep growing beyond the stimulus provided by public programmes, says a newly-adopted report by the EESC, which also calls for financial training as a way to foster private funding.
The EESC firmly believes that a care model for dependent older people with long-term care needs should be mainstreamed into EU policymaking, given that the proportion of the population aged over 80 is expected to more than double by 2050. The pandemic revealed failures and shortcomings in this area, which must be addressed fast. The Commission's initiative to establish a new European Care Strategy is a step in this direction, but consultative institutions and European civil society organisations representing older people have to have a say.
In its opinion adopted at the January plenary, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) supports transport multimodality and smart shipping, pointing out that inland waterway transport is essential for the future and needs to be maintained and developed.
The current socio-economic situation in euro area countries is characterised by a high level of uncertainty, an unprecedented accumulation of public debt and the rise of inflation. Despite initial encouraging expectations for a recovery in the real economy, it seems that the process is more complicated due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the appearance of new variants. During its plenary on 19 January 2022, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the European Commission's (EC) recommendations on the economic policy of the euro area for 2022, according to present-day reality.
The EESC is urging the creation of a European network of special ombudsmen to help SMEs cope with the financial and funding issues they are experiencing, particularly as a result of the COVID crisis. The Committee also stresses that for SMEs to take up AI there needs to be the political will to support them in the process.
Disbursement of EU funds, including the Recovery Fund, must be tied to respect for the rule of law in all Member States. Systematic deficiencies in the rule of law always undermine the implementation of EU-funded programmes, and the absence of a rapid and comprehensive EU response to this will jeopardise the EU's credibility, warns the EESC
Clear EU taxation rules for energy products and electricity are needed to make sure they continue to contribute to the smooth functioning of the internal market, while at the same time tackling climate- and environment-related challenges. In an opinion "Revision of the Energy Taxation Directive", adopted during its plenary on 20 January 2022, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomed the objective of the European Commission (EC) to clarify and update the existing Union framework and to structure European taxation in a way that favours sustainable non-fossil energy. However, the EESC is also concerned at the possible negative socio-economic impact of some of the measures found in the EC Proposal for a Directive.
In the EU, 2022 will be the Year of Youth. Proposed by the Commission, the Year aims to promote opportunities for young people and engage them to become active citizens and actors of change. Although such an initiative is to be applauded, we must ensure it is geared towards achieving concrete and enduring outcomes for all young Europeans
With China and Russia on the offensive, a renewed and reliable transatlantic partnership is the key to maintaining international and legal order and peace. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) supports the idea of an Alliance of Democracies, ensuring that civil society has significant say in the joint defence of universal values and rights.