On Thursday 21 April, the EESC's Various Interests Group has held an extraordinary meeting at the Dutch Economic and Social Council (Sociaal-Economische Raad/SER) in The Hague. The conference was entitled From agricultural to food policy – Towards healthy and sustainable production and consumption.
The digital revolution is bringing about changes in modes of production and patterns of consumption, in how we understand the world, in how we govern, and even in how we live together in society. The digital economy is, however, a double-edged sword. It presents risks as well as opportunities, and chances for inclusion as well as exclusion; it provides new prospects for growth within our territory, for us as well as for international players preying on our markets.Concrete action is needed to tip the scales on the positive side.
On 20th April 2016, a delegation of EESC Members of the "Transport, energy, infrastructures and information society" section went on mission to the Egadi Islands (IT), with the objective to evaluate the islands' use of local resources. With 54 000 hectares, the Egadi Islands constitute the most important marine reserve of the EU. Welcomed by M Giuseppe Pagoto, Mayor of Favignana and M Stefano Donati, Director of the Protected Marine Area of the Egadi Islands, EESC Members had a fruitful exchange of views with local stakeholders including citizens. The EESC delegation visited four projects developed in the island: a photovoltaic plant managed by the municipality, the Posidonia's pilot project managed by the Protected Marine Area, a marine rescue centre opened to fishermen, the conversion of an old tuna factory into a museum of archaeology supported by the Region of Sicilia, and a project combining water supply and waste reduction.
The ECI DAY serves as a meeting place and platform for the registered and future ECI organisers to meet and exchange information and experiences, and present their ECIs to the media.
The 2016 edition will focus on the ways of dealing with the identified difficulties, also to emphasize why the simplification of the rules is indispensable. The organisers will find out more about the help available, about what instruments are out there to maximize the impact of their initiatives. Finally, a broader context of participatory democracy in the EU will be drawn with information on the existing tools.
The consequences of the financial and economic crisis has triggered considerable changes in the ways in which services of general interest (SGIs) are provided and financed, incentivising providers to explore new modes and mechanisms to keep delivering affordable services without impacting the quality of services. Overall, an increased involvement of private players in the provision of SGIs through outsourcing and public-private partnerships (PPPs) has happened, driven by efficiency and budgetary concerns. On the financing side, there have been significant budget cuts, particularly in sectors such as education and healthcare, while new investments are needed. This has raised questions on the use of new financing modes, such as project financing and the use of new financial instruments.
The Consultative Committee (CC) is one of the 5 institutions foreseen in the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement. The CC is composed of 40 (25 from the CARIFORM side and 15 from the EU side) standing representatives of organisations of the civil society representing employers' organisations, trade unions, other economic, social and non-governmental organisations, including development and environmental organisations; and the academic community.
The Labour Market Observatory (LMO) addressed the topic of labour migration in its 42nd meeting which took place on 18 April 2016. Discussions focused on the outcomes of the European Migration Forum of 6-7 April 2016 and on Commission's and EESC's work on legal migration, including the revision of the Blue Card Directive. The discussions were very useful in the context of the preparation of the SOC/539 opinion on a Coherent labour migration.
Our first exhibition linked to the Dutch EU Presidency in 2016 is called "Time will change". It consists of two projects: Living colours and Biobased collection. The opening of the exhibition will take place on 16th of March at 6.30 pm and the exhibition will remain open until the 15th of April in the Foyer 6 (JDE building). The exposed student works form a joint exhibition of the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy (Locatie Avans Hogeschool, Breda) and AKV St Joost Academy of Art & Design, both situated in the Netherlands.
The European Commission made a proposal for a directive on a European Accessibility Act, which will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services, and will help people with disabilities at EU level to participate fully in society.
The EESC is currently preparing an opinion on the Commission's proposal . On 13 April 2016, the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) will hold a public hearing in conjunction with the work on this opinion.
The conclusions of the hearing will feed directly into the work of the drafting group which will hold its second meeting in the afternoon of the same day.
The Raw Materials Initiative and the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials are key policies that may contribute decisively to maintaining the competitiveness and sustainability of European industry and, consequently, the maintenance or creation of new jobs.