Blockchain technology has the potential to transform society, but there is a need for legal clarity and certainty and therefore a common EU approach. This is the key message of an own-initiative opinion adopted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 30 October, which also calls on the European Commission to launch a comprehensive initiative to make the EU a global authority in this field.
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Originally associated with cryptocurrencies, blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) are in fact very versatile and can be usefully applied to the social economy. However, it is important to regulate them properly and gear them to benefits for all, allowing everyone to participate, says the EESC in a report tabled at its July plenary.
So far, actions to boost the development of a circular economy in Europe have centred on production, getting industries to introduce circular business models and bring circular options to the market.
The single market has been a great achievement. The EU needs to make sure citizens are aware that many of the very real benefits they have enjoyed in the past 25 years as consumers, business owners or workers are the result of the single market. This will help rally the support needed to make it fit for the digital era, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) argues in its response to the European Commission's assessment of the state of play of the single market.
The development of artificial intelligence in Europe should be as broadly inclusive as possible, the EESC says in its assessment of the European Commission's Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence. Policy should ensure civil society reaps the numerous benefits of AI while minimising risks such as the manipulation of democratic processes.
Opening the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference at the European Commission on 6 March, EESC President Luca Jahier said the Circular Economy Platform and the ambitious initiatives emerging from it are again proof that Europe is at its best when it works together, when it pools the skills and know-how of its different stakeholders - EU institutions, organized civil society and European citizens.
At its last plenary session, held on 17 October 2018, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion aiming to improve the EU space programme's outcomes and raise its profile. The EESC supports the EU's efforts to remain a major independent space power, but calls for more investment in research, start-ups and business incubators as well as for a consistent application of the "European preference" principle. Clear emphasis should be placed on space mining research and the benefits that space activities could provide in terms of sustainable development.
Measures to enhance the international competitiveness of European SMEs by reducing costs and streamlining registration and company changes through digitalisation were welcomed by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in a report adopted at its October plenary. New common rules simplifying cross border conversions, mergers and divisions also received a thumbs-up, with European civil society appreciating the Commission's wholistic approach, taking into account the impact of these processes on employees and society as a whole.
The EU needs to ensure that the AI revolution does not endanger the quality of work in Europe. Interactions between workers and machines must be regulated in such a way that humans never become underlings to machines, argues the European Economic and Social Committee in a report adopted at its September plenary.
European business and consumer representatives united in a lukewarm welcome of the Commission's proposed New Deal for Consumers at the European Economic and Social Committee's plenary session on 20 September. Taking a position on the package, the Committee wondered whether the New Deal does in fact live up to its promise of making consumer legislation in Europe fit for the digital age. Focusing on the actual enforcement of existing consumer protection rules should have been a priority, in the EESC's view.