The Commission's decision to create a Digital Single Market (to remove virtual borders, boost digital connectivity, and make it easier for consumers to access cross-border online content) is therefore a welcome move. But what does it mean for SMEs in practice? How will this affect their day-to-day running? And, given the lessons learnt from previous rapid changes, how do we make an "inclusive" success of the Digital Single Market?
541st Plenary session, 20-21 February 2019 - Related Opinions
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
In an – increasingly probable – "no Withdrawal Agreement" scenario, the legislation of the EU, in particular Regulation 1008/2008, would cease to apply for air services between the UK and the EU. This creates legal uncertainty, jeopardises planning stability and endangers continued connectivity for services between the UK and the EU. The EESC supports the thrust of the proposed Regulation as a contingency measure to secure basic air connectivity.
The own-initiative opinion aims to analyse the link between current food systems and diet-related diseases; identify policies, tools and instruments that are needed to foster healthier diets both on the supply and demand side, for example sustainable dietary guidelines, sustainable food labelling schemes, education modules in school curricula, information campaigns, specific agricultural schemes (such as the EU school food scheme), food product reformulation, etc.; highlight examples of good practices at national and local level - including civil society and business initiatives; contribute to the debate on the implementation of food-related SDGs and in the context of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition; provide recommendations for future EU action.