The EESC welcomes the fact that principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights reaffirms the right to access essential services/SGEIs. These are a vital component of social justice and are underpinned by the principle of equal treatment of users, prohibiting any kind of discrimination or exclusion whatsoever, and by the principle of universal access to services of a high level of affordability and quality.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's Communication on Further Strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union. It regrets that the short reflection period has not allowed for deeper consultation. The EESC recalls the essential watchdog role played by the civil society, which should be further supported. It reiterates its support for an EU mechanism to monitor rule of law and fundamental rights and proposes to establish an EU stakeholders Forum to debate solutions. The EESC also calls on the Commission to adopt a Strategy on communication, education and citizen awareness concerning these key issues.
In October 2018, the European Commission launched the updated European Bio-economy Strategy. The purpose of this update to the 2012 Bio-economy Strategy was to address the challenges of living in a world of limited resources.
According to Eurostat forecasts (2015), over the coming decades, Europe’s population will grow slowly from 507 million people in 2013 to 526 million in 2035. This will be accompanied by substantial ageing: the section of the population aged 65+ should increase from 18% to 28%. And by 2060 the 65+ age group will number 149 million.
The exploratory opinion will aim to show how to boost social economy enterprises. It will seek to identify the best ways to strengthen their role in addressing tomorrow's challenges, in particular in the social field.
The revision of the energy performance in buildings directive will have a significant impact on economic activities in the construction sector by increasing the average rate of annual renovation and through the implementation of long term renovation strategies in Members States. This will have a positive impact on employment and open the opportunity to acquire new and additional skills and qualifications in order to ensure sustainable quality employment and competitiveness of the construction sector.
Gender equality is not only a human rights issue; it is a social and economic necessity for the EU, its Member States and businesses, as it hugely impacts on sustainable growth and GDP, while allowing to use the potential of 51% of the EU population. The EU needs to elevate gender equality to a stand-alone goal with a binding strategy, centred in the following measures: fighting the economic inequality affecting women and the current backlash of their rights; ratifying and implementing the Istanbul Convention on all forms of violence against women (including harassment); addressing once and for all gendered stereotypes, namely through the media; and supporting civil society organisations working for greater gender equality.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's strong message on reinforcing the Single Market and the need for commitment from all Member States and citizens. The EESC calls for a Single Market that must be perceived as an opportunity to reassert European values, fundamental rights and duties to achieve progress and welfare for all Member States and citizens. Values like liberty, economic growth, democracy, peace, science and innovation, political stability, consumers and social rights must be present in citizens' mindset as a result of a process that started 60 years ago.
The EESC welcomes the coordinated plan and calls for urgency in its implementation. To succeed in global competition, the EU must be at the forefront in innovation and investment, following the principle of "human in command" and trustworthiness of AI.
The objective of the opinion, requested by the Romanian Presidency, is to explore which measures and initiatives should be taken at EU and national level in order to promote organised philanthropy and eliminate barriers within the internal market that are hindering the realisation of its full potential, so as to maximize its contribution to EU values, such as cohesion, social justice and European Policies, and to the competitiveness of the European economy.
The opinion is expected to feed into the Romanian presidency programme and into the political priorities for the new Commission.