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On 29 April 2016, the EESC's TEN Section project delegation conducted a study visit in La Rochelle to discover some of the inspirational smart city initiatives that have been implemented so far.

The delegation had the opportunity to make a technical visit to find out, inter alia, about the Atlantech project.


516th Plenary Session, with a debate on the Energy Union initiative on 28 April at 10.30 a.m., with Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the European Commission, responsible for the Energy Union


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The organisation and provision of long-term care (LTC) is a challenge many Member States are facing. The sector is low paid, highly feminised and employs often undocumented migrant workers. It suffers from workforce imbalances and skills shortages. Situations of undeclared work and poor working conditions affect mainly "live-in" care workers. Proactive measures to encourage the creation of quality, well-paid jobs in the sector with decent working conditions are needed to ensure an adequate labour supply for the LTC sector. The public hearing - which will contribute to the opinion on the subject - will elaborate on the human and social rights of "live-in" care workers in the context of labour supply and mobility issues. It will explore these issues in the interplay of labour and migration policies.


The hearing allowed aviation stakeholders to come together and shape concrete proposals for successful implementation of the aviation strategy, in order to inform the EESC's forthcoming opinion on this issue.

From agricultural to food policy – Towards healthy and sustainable production and consumption

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 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.

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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.


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.