Cuba poses a major challenge to relations between the European Union and Latin America. The European Union has maintained diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba that have been the focus of special attention, in particular by the European Parliament, since the changes initiated by Raúl Castro's government from 2010 onwards. Among other things, these changes affect the organisation of work, the trade union movement and civil society organisations. The EESC is increasingly engaged with issues of bilateral cooperation, especially with those parts of the world experiencing transformations that bring local organised civil society into the framework of official cooperation relations with the EU. In this regard, the EESC has set itself the aim of ensuring the greatest possible participation by civil society.
In its evaluation of the implementation of EU directives on legal migration from the perspective of organised civil society in selected Member States, the EESC considers the impact of these directives to be generally positive, albeit partial and fragmented. It also notes the impact of irregular migration on the directives' applicability.
The EESC provides a series of recommendations, covering the design of wider legal channels for labour migration; the role of the social partners and other organisations in this field; a simplified implementation of the directives and the modification of some of them; fact-based discourse to better inform the general public, integration and the fight against discrimination.
The EESC has been asked by the European Commission to contribute to the EC's mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus+ programme. In this context, two questionnaires were widely disseminated by the EESC in the member states and four fact-finding missions have been organised. The EESC also held an expert hearing to collect the views of specialised civil society organisations. An information report has been drafted containing the results of this exercise, accompanied by a detailed technical appendix containing important data on the awareness and perception of the programme. The aim of this evaluation was to provide information to the EC on the experience of civil society organisations with the enlarged and improved programme.
The EESC welcomes the CEF's support for clean, low-carbon transport and sustainable energy structures, as well as the attention given to energy vulnerability. However, the Committee would like to see more financial resources allocated to the CEF.
It will be possible to meet the expectations of city "users" – inhabitants, businesses, visitors and administrators – thanks to digital service ecosystems overlaying high-quality material and immaterial enabling infrastructure. Establishing this infrastructure will also have a significant impact in terms of growth, employment and productivity.
The Mid-term evaluation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is one of the evaluations on which the Commission is consulting the EESC.
The CEF was proposed as a financing programme for the completion of trans-European infrastructure networks in the fields of transport, energy and information and communications technology (ICT).
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the opportunity to take part in the evaluation of the CEF programme. Transport, energy and ICT are also the core of the EESC Smart Islands Project. Therefore, the EESC's response is based on the above mentioned project, which analyses primary data collected through fact-finding missions taking place in the EU in the course of 2015 and 2016.
The European car industry employs 2.5 million workers. Together they account for 8% of total value added in industry. Indirectly the sector provides employment for 12 million workers. European exports of cars are twice as big as imports, resulting in a large trade surplus. European assembly plants produce one out of three cars worldwide. The sector is highly innovative as it accounts for 20% of industrial research funding in Europe.
The survey initiated by the EESC on the automotive industry and its value chain was inspired by the GEAR 2030 initiative and the changes taking place in this sector. It is expected that the new challenges of electrification, digitisation, connectivity and mobility will define the structural transformation of traditional automobile manufacturing. During the next decade, innovation and transformation will take place much more quickly than they have done over the course of the last century.The survey initiated by the EESC on the automotive industry and its value chain was inspired by the GEAR 2030 initiative and the changes taking place in this sector. It is expected that the new challenges of electrification, digitisation, connectivity and mobility will define the structural transformation of traditional automobile manufacturing. During the next decade, innovation and transformation will take place much more quickly than they have done over the course of the last century.
The EESC advocates the creation of an integrated European fund to combat poverty and social exclusion, based on the experiences of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The current use of the ESF and the FEAD in the Member States should be monitored more effectively and the process should involve civil society organisations. Member States should make greater use of global grants and regranting, and treat in-kind contributions on an equal footing with financial contributions. A greater share of the resources allocated to operational programmes should be earmarked for projects with smaller budgets. The EESC is ready to develop – in cooperation with CSOs – a consultation platform to ensure better coordination of ESF and FEAD interventions and to enable discussion on the basic principles of a future integrated EU fund.