The opinion presents the EESC's proposal for the new European Disability strategy 2020-2030, at a crucial moment in the EU landscape. With a new European Commission, a new European Parliament and a new budget programming period, the timing is perfect to come up with a Disability Strategy that fully takes into account the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD), the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The opinion tackles various policy areas, drawing attention to the crosscutting character of disability rights.
Against a background of rising poverty levels during the crisis, levels that remain high in many Member States, in particular among the unemployed, this own-initiative opinion would address the huge differences in levels of protection under national unemployment insurance systems within the EU.
Possible standards in this respect could be:
- a minimum standard for the net replacement rate of unemployment benefits;
- a minimum standard of coverage ratio of unemployed people receiving unemployment payments;
- a minimum standard for the duration of unemployment benefit entitlement;
- a right to (re)qualification and training
With the objective of promoting upward social convergence within the EU, the proposal for such standards is a concrete step towards effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights recently announced by the EU institutions in Gothenburg.
An effective and principled competition policy to be one of the pillars of the European Union and an essential tool in achieving the internal market, pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the construction of a social market economy and the content of the Social Pillar. In the 2018 report on Competition Policy 2018, the European Commission develops an approach aimed at strengthening the Single Market, economic development and social policy objectives.
When it comes to development and EU-Africa relations, the EESC consistently emphasised the importance of sustainable development and cooperation based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Initiatives focused on trade, investment and business relations with Africa could be welcomed, but not to the detriment of traditional development policies focusing on reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EU and Africa leaders agreed in 2015 at the Valletta summit on migration on setting up the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), as the main instrument of EU external migration policy. The Fund finances the development of border protection capacities, but also long-term development policy projects so as to decrease the likelihood of further migration.
Taxation policies are fundamental for the SDGs as they determine the economic environment in which investment, employment, and innovation take place while providing the government with revenues for financing public spending. Businesses are global drivers of productivity, inclusive economic growth, job creation, investment and innovation. Private sector expertise holds the keys to unlocking many of the challenges linked to sustainable development. Tax bases should be as broad as possible allowing tax rates to be as non-distortive as possible.
This own-initiative opinion refers to what a comprehensive approach to industrial policy should include, in order to reposition European production of goods and services in the global context, on the basis of an eco-social open market model that responds to the tradition and the future of the EU.
The EESC echoes the European Parliament's call to phase out all investor schemes and recommends that until then certain mitigation measures are put in place. Member States should be urged to apply a due diligence process without specific duration restrictions and adapted to the high-risk profile of applicants. A coordination mechanism should allow Member States to exchange information on successful and rejected applications for citizenship and residence permits. All agents and intermediaries providing services to applicants should be subject to anti-money-laundering rules as set out in the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The EU should encourage all agents providing services to applicants to be accredited and subject to a code of conduct. Authorities should maintain primary responsibility for accepting or rejecting applicants. Authorities must also maintain a set of measures to avoid conflicts of interest or bribery risks.
This additional opinion complements and updates the proposals made in the yearly EESC AGS opinion. The EESC welcomes country-specific recommendations focus on investment and underlines that special attention must be paid to productive investments and investment in social infrastructure to prioritise sustainable growth. Next year's cycle should contain more CSRs to combat the existential threat of climate change. Investment would also be needed to enable the implementation of the social pillar to prevent an increase of social, economic, and environmental inequality. Taxation should favour this type of investment.