A European standardisation system that functions well contributes to overall economic growth, supports innovation and global competitiveness of the European industry. It also helps to ensure that the levels of safety, health and consumer and environmental protection set out in Union legislation are met in practice. It also facilitates market access while contributing to a continuous deepening of the Single Market and providing the necessary legal certainty.
The objective of this proposal is to provide an update of EESC's positions related to the cohesion package presented by the Commission on May 2018. While the discussions in the Council and the Parliament are still ongoing, this opinion will reflect better the developments in view of a successful cohesion policy in the post-2020 period.
The Romanian presidency who has asked for this opinion proposes that the conclusions drawn in this opinion could stimulate the informal ministerial debate of the cohesion ministers to be held in April 2019.
The EESC considers there is no better moment in the history of European integration for the EU to lead the way by charting a new direction for peace-building worldwide.
The EESC presents The WhiteDoveWay, a metaphorical and physical route map pointing the way forward, focusing on conflict prevention, civil society involvement, and effective communication using education and information, and a European Path of Peace to physically engage citizens so they are included and empowered in the EU peace process.
The EESC calls for the new EU budget to devote greatly increased funds to conflict prevention in all EU external relations peace programmes.
The EESC strongly recommends greater involvement of civil society in the decision-making process.
The EESC calls for a serious communication effort to promote the role of education and information to deliver the EU peace-building story.
The EESC considers the Joint Communication to be most timely. The world order is changing at its fastest rate for nearly thirty years, the post-war international trading order is under significant challenge, the balance of global economic power is moving eastwards and Asian global purchasing power is growing exponentially.
The EESC welcomes the emphasis in the Communication on sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based connectivity.
The EESC takes careful note of the initiative's definition of disinformation as verifiably false or misleading information that is a threat to democracy and does public harm. Spreading disinformation has become a part of a hybrid war with a clear political aim. However, it also emphasises that, in addition to false information, highly selective information, defamation, scare-mongering and inciting hatred attack citizens' fundamental rights (freedoms) and minority rights.
Multiple actions from all stakeholders are needed to provide quality information and raise awareness. To this end, the EESC welcomes the initiative for coordinated action to protect the EU, its institutions and its citizens against disinformation. The EESC emphasises the urgency of such measures but is also concerned, however, that the impact of this action plan might be limited given that the May 2019 European elections are not far off.
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 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.