In this opinion, the EESC calls for society to begin an economic transition from over-exploitation of resources and a throw-away culture to a more sustainable, job-rich era, based on quality rather than quantity. In order to cope with the fundamental shift to a new economic model with major systemic consequences in many areas, it is recommended that a new cross-cutting and permanent body be set up in the EESC to analyse these developments.
New economy models and social innovation: an opportunity for a better Europe - Related Opinions
The emergence of a decentralised digital economy suggests that this could lead to a transformation in setting up businesses, jobs, production, consumption, governance. In view of this and in answer to the Commission's Communication on a new agenda for the collaborative economy, the EESC proposes a series of recommendations to face this new paradigm.
Defining the sharing economy makes it possible to distinguish between genuine practices requiring special arrangements and those that are wrongly classified merely to get around applicable regulations. New business models need to comply with the applicable national and EU legislation, so the Commission must urgently define a clear and transparent legal framework and publish without further delay the long overdue 'European agenda for the collaborative economy'. This agenda should provide a clear definition of the complementary role that self- and co-regulation must play in the sharing economy.
In this Opinion on two proposals for directives (on supply of digital content and online sales), the Committee disagrees with the legal basis chosen by the Commission and proposes Article 169 TFEU instead; as a consequence, the Committee thinks that the measures adopted should be based on minimum harmonisation and would have preferred the use of a regulation instead of a directive.
The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits.
The Economy for the Common Good model proposes the transition towards a "European Ethical Market" which will foster social innovation, boost the employment rate and benefit the environment, for example through using indicators of wellbeing and social development beyond the GDP such as the Common Good Product and the Common Good Balance Sheet. The EESC considers that the Economy for the Common Good model is conceived to be included both in the European and the domestic legal framework and demands from the European Commission, in the framework of the upcoming renewed CSR strategy, to make a qualitative step in order to reward (in terms of public procurement, access to external markets, tax advantages, etc.) those enterprises that can demonstrate higher ethical performance.
The opinion familiarizes the public with the phenomenon of collaborative consumption (CC). The document presents the conceptual approach and describes briefly best practices in CC. The EESC proposes also a general strategy for the sound development of CC in the EU. Given that CC covers mostly bottom-up initiatives, studies are needed before the appropriate regulations, rights and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved can be established.
Planned obsolescence is associated with a form of industrial production that relies on a minimum renewal rate for its products. Although product renewal is necessary, certain abuses need to be addressed. The EESC would like to see a total ban on products with built-in defects designed to end the product's life.