The European Union has close to 182 million hectares of forests covering 43% of its land area and these forest areas are one of Europe's most important renewable resources. EU forests are exceptionally diverse, with a large variety of forest types, characteristics and ownership structures. They provide multiple benefits for society and the economy whilst being a major source of biodiversity.
Since 2016, as requested by the Council, every second year the Commission publishes a report on the implementation of the existing macro-regional strategies (MRS). This is the fourth report, covering the period from mid-2020 to mid-2022. It assesses the state of play and progress on implementing the MRS and examines ways forward especially in the context of the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 crisis.
The opinion intends to contribute to the design of the EU regulation on critical raw materials and to its follow-up, and could influence the political and economic decisions to be taken at EU level in the new geopolitical context.
In its 2023 Work Programme, the European Commission announced a proposal for a second basket of new own resources, building inter alia on the proposal for a single set of tax rules for doing business in Europe (BEFIT). The aim of these measures will be to ensure more diversified and resilient types of revenue and avoid undue cuts to Union programmes or excessive increases in Member State contributions, in view of repaying the grant component of the NextGenerationEU recovery plan.
In view of the upcoming proposal that will be published in the third quarter of 2023, the European Commission requested the European Economic and Social Committee to provide an exploratory opinion on this subject in order to feed into the preparation of the Commission proposal.
In 2021 the European Commission announced the revision of the Council Directive 2011/64/EU on the excise rules for tobacco. In the inception impact assessment, the EC stated that there are areas of weakness and ambiguity in the current legal arrangements which give rise to market distortions, legal uncertainty and can also hinder the detection and prevention of fraud. The review will ensure that the rules remain fit for the purpose and improve the proper functioning of the internal market, and a high level of health protection. The policy changes focus on: