Digitalisation offers a wealth of new possibilities allowing people to make choices for a better life in an unprecedented way. On the other hand, the more digitalisation dominates our life, the more we can also be manipulated. The EESC calls for transparent rules to be developed, adapted and applied to these rapidly evolving technologies. Good persuasive technology should involve training, not manipulation, and comply with the principle of people's free choice, to guarantee human autonomy.
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 reforms aimed at increasing high-quality investment and productivity growth, inclusiveness and institutional quality, and to ensure macro-financial stability and sound public finances. The EESC also welcomes the recognition of the need for investment focused on education and training and the need to strengthen the EU’s social dimension. However, it remains to be specified how these objectives are to be achieved. The EESC underlines that progress is very slow and proposals often rather modest in areas where new policies have been proposed, including fair taxation, the banking union and the functioning of the euro area. Moreover, the EESC recognises the importance of addressing climate change but measures so far adopted remain insufficient.
The EESC supports the Commission's steps to ensure basic international HVG freight transport connectivity on a temporary basis between the Union and the United Kingdom.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the proposal for a regulation under examination grants UK road haulage operators the right, until 31/12/2019, to move freely within Union territory, in compliance with the common EU rules on access to the international haulage market, and provided that Union carriers can also move freely on UK territory under fair, equal and non-discriminatory conditions of competition.
The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the Commission's proposal to ensure the continuation of two bilateral cooperation programmes involving Ireland namely the PEACE IV (Ireland-United Kingdom) and the United Kingdom-Ireland programme, after UK's intention to withdraw from the Union pursuant to art. 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
The EESC underlined repeatedly that international aviation can only assume its role as an enabler for economic growth sustainably, if highest levels of safety are maintained. Prerequisites for safety are uniform standards which are implemented by all stakeholders and monitored by empowered agencies. Brexit may jeopardise such standards and uniform application in Europe in the field of aviation safety, because the pertinent EU regulations could no longer apply to UK aviation stakeholders as of March 2019.
The EESC is of the opinion that building economic resilience, an objective that underlies the recommendations of the European Commission on the economic policy of the euro area, is of the utmost importance for the euro area economies. However, the Committee would like to stress that the pursuit of economic resilience should go hand in hand with increased labour market resilience, that is, the capacity of labour markets to weather shocks with limited social costs.
The EU today faces an increasing demand for a constructive dialogue with civil society on trade, as seen with CETA and TTIP. Domestic advisory groups (DAG) are a great way to connect citizens with trade issues. DAG should responsibly advise on all aspects of EU Trade Agreements.
Domestic advisory groups should be advisory, consultative, institutionalized and competent to cover all provisions of FTAs.
The EESC considers that the participation of civil society in all FTAs is an indispensable element in the strategic ambitions of the external policies of the EU.
The EESC considers its participation in DAGs valuable and wishes to continue to be part of all of them.
The EESC asks budgetary authorities for an additional budget to support Domestic Advisory Groups to fulfil the expected work in terms of quantity and quality.
The EESC welcome the definitive destination principle-based VAT system for taxing goods in B2B relations and reminds that it is an important achievement proving the continuous consolidation of the EU internal market. The Committee urges the Commission to explore how a common VAT system for both services and goods can be rolled out as quickly as possible. The EESC recommends greater collaboration between national fiscal and enforcement authorities in order to make the new destination-based VAT system more effective in terms of both effectiveness against fraud and reliability in favour of European enterprises.