Radical labour market reforms were implemented in Germany between 2002 and 2005, reforms that overturned the received idea that Germany was suffering from "reform paralysis". However, the part of these reforms that specifically concerned labour law was very small; their main purpose was to overhaul the social security and activation system for the unemployed and others of working age who are in need of support in line with a "work first" strategy. These reforms were extremely controversial and changed the party-political landscape in Germany.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!“ was the first successful ECI, achieving over 1.6 million validated signatures from across 13 Member States. The Initiative called upon the Commission to “implement the human right to water and sanitation in European law“.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential for governance improvements in the internal market with a view to removing bureaucratic hurdles for business. Its conclusion is that the European Commission, although active in cutting red tape in EU legislation, is not intervening yet in the case of gold-plating, which is over-compliance at the national/regional/local level. A key problem with gold-plating is precisely its tendency to overlap across multiple layers of competence. Gold-plating does happen and in certain cases undermines European competitiveness.
As the current economic and financial crisis drags on, many Europeans are being forced to get by on less. This loss of purchasing power puts consumers at risk of social exclusion. The EU estimates1 that more than 120 million people were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2013.
In November 1995, at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Barcelona, foreign affairs ministers of the EU and Mediterranean partner countries concluded a regional partnership, the aim of which was to establish a common area of peace and stability, create an area of shared prosperity, develop human resources, promote understanding between cultures and foster exchanges between civil societies. The Barcelona process was born and provided the foundation for broader cooperation across the Mediterranean.
For the eighth year in succession, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will be organizing a civil society media seminar for communication experts and national and international media specialists. This year's event will be held at the Palazzo Reale di Milano, from 27 to 28 November 2014.
The main theme of the 2014 seminar will be "European media and informed citizenship" which will be discussed in four panels, focusing on the following issues:
• The EU in the news: generating interest and citizen engagement
On the 6th november 2014, the European Economic and Social Committee unanimously adopted its contribution to the European Commission's 2015 work programme. This 15-page document is full of very specific proposals and suggestions for improvement, and clearly sets out the areas where civil society expects the new team heading the Commission to be active in the coming year.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the biggest and most ambitious free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the European Union. Economists believe that an agreement with the USA will be advantageous for both the European Union and the USA, and the negative effects of trade liberalisation will be insignificant. This publication is a summary of the debate on "What development opportunities does the TTIP bring to Europe?" that was held in Sopot on 2 October 2014 as part of the European Forum for New Ideas.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the EU economy. According to Commission estimates, the overall contribution of SMEs to EU-27 value added was more than 57% (EUR 3.4 trillion) in 2012. Although the role of SMEs in the EU economy is crucial and their well being should be a priority for European policymakers, they struggle with access to finance, especially in the countries severely hit by the crisis. The Greek experience can and should be taken as a case study and conclusions drawn on how to improve the system for the future.
In 2004 the European Union experienced its biggest enlargement so far, welcoming 10 new Member States. A decade later, members of the Employers' Group representing employers' organisations from these countries summarise the changes that have taken place thanks to accession to the EU.