The EESC welcomes the approach taken by the annual growth strategy for 2020, based on the four key pillars that are the environment, productivity, stability and fairness and also welcomes the inclusion of the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It also welcomes the fact that social rights are highlighted in the 2020 growth strategy and hopes that special attention will be given to the gender issue. Long term investment in education, training and skills development and to boost research and innovation, with increased funds earmarked for them, is absolutely crucial and decisive for the EU competitiveness. The greatest priority of all is to restore sustainable growth, above all in the weakest countries and regions. Finally, the EESC agrees on the need to strengthen the stability and resilience of the financial system and tighten the rules governing the financial markets.
Leaving no one behind when implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
Just a few days ahead of last December's climate summit COP24 in Poland, the European Commission published its long-term strategy "A clean planet for all" presenting its vision for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a socially-fair transition in a cost-efficient manner. While the document does not contain any new policy proposals, it provides the direction of travel of EU climate and energy policy and frames what the EU considers as its long-term contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement temperature objectives in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The EESC is a bridge between the EU and its citizens, through the diversity of its members, and as such would like to propose its ambitious vision for the future, with Europe becoming the global leader on sustainable development
The EESC launched the idea of a Framework Directive on a European Minimum Income already in 2013 (SOC/482). As the principle of minimum income was integrated in the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), it was again supported twice by the EESC (SOC/542 and SOC/564). Applying the open method of coordination (OMC) as the only mechanism to reduce poverty continues to be insufficient to achieve the target set in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Introducing a binding European framework for a decent minimum income in Europe, enabling minimum income schemes in the Member States to be made "decent" (adequate) is a key European response to the serious and persistent problem of poverty in Europe.
The EESC welcomes the proposal for the ESF+ to improve merge funds and simplify procedures, but is critical of a financial cut in EU cohesion policy, and, as regards the ESF+, of the 6% decrease of the funding allocated to it. It calls for 30% of total resources for economic, social and territorial cohesion policies to be allocated to the ESF+ and for 30% of the ESF+ resources to be earmarked for social inclusion measures.
The EESC agrees with the aims of the Council Recommendation and with some of its proposals. However, it expresses its disagreement with the proposal for the aggregate fiscal stance of the euro area to be neutral, as well as with the way that the recommendation on salaries is formulated.
The EESC supports transparent and predictable working conditions for all workers, including in atypical employment, as a concrete step towards implementing the European Social Pillar. The definition of worker and employer should be clarified in the Commission's proposal and on-demand workers be guaranteed a minimum number of hours or pay. The EESC finds the provisions relating to minimum requirements relating to working conditions acceptable, but recommends clarification of certain aspects, recommending a strong role for social dialogue and that responsibility be left up to the national level.
The EESC welcomes the efforts made by the EC to address the persistent pay gap between men and women by proposing an Action Plan with eight areas for action, but finds that each area should be further developed. It is important to look at the stereotypes that affect career choices, as well as to the underlying causes of labour market segregation, in order to counter them. It agrees with the EC proposal for pay transparency and pay audits to be introduced in order to facilitate the collection of individualised data and develop appropriate action plans at sector and business level. Moreover, it welcomes the EC recognition of the crucial role social partners play in this, while also highlighting the contribution of civil society organisations. Finally, it insists on the need to obtain additional resources, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework, to implement the Action Plan, including the financing of childcare facilities and long-term care services.
Social sustainability is achieved through the reaffirmation of the role and value of the European social model, which represents the identity and specificity of our continent and which guarantees high social protection and citizenship rights for all. There is a clear connection between competitiveness, productivity and social sustainability: all stakeholders must commit themselves to promoting inclusive growth and at the same time foster conditions that are favourable for the world of enterprise, with the aim of creating more and better jobs.