When it comes to development and EU-Africa relations, the EESC consistently emphasised the importance of sustainable development and cooperation based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Initiatives focused on trade, investment and business relations with Africa could be welcomed, but not to the detriment of traditional development policies focusing on reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EU and Africa leaders agreed in 2015 at the Valletta summit on migration on setting up the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), as the main instrument of EU external migration policy. The Fund finances the development of border protection capacities, but also long-term development policy projects so as to decrease the likelihood of further migration.
Opinions with Diversity Europe - Group III members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
The opinion presents the EESC's proposal for the new European Disability strategy 2020-2030, at a crucial moment in the EU landscape. With a new European Commission, a new European Parliament and a new budget programming period, the timing is perfect to come up with a Disability Strategy that fully takes into account the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD), the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The opinion tackles various policy areas, drawing attention to the crosscutting character of disability rights.
Blockchain technology contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), empowers citizens, boosts entrepreneurship and innovation, improves mobility and cross-border opportunities for businesses while enhancing transparency for consumers. However, several challenges still remain to be addressed, in particular the urgent matter of providing legal clarity and certainty and protecting privacy.
The proposed opinion will look at new approaches to more fairly distributing the burden of transformation towards a sustainable Europe.
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to how environmental laws could be better supported at EU and national level and suggest ways to enhance the role of civil society in the framework of the EIR process.
The EESC supports the Commission's aim of ensuring equal treatment, for VAT purposes, for armed forces of Member States working together within an EU framework and NATO armed forces employed in the EU, which already benefit from VAT exemption. The Committee suggests that different national tax authorities should have one system under which the new exemptions are implemented.
The EESC welcomes the initiative of the European Commission (EC) to launch the assessment of the draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) submitted by the Member States, thereby following up on the new governance model launched by the Council and the Parliament in December 2018 and aimed at ensuring the transition to clean energy and climate protection through a multilevel interactive dialogue which fully involves civil society and public and private entities at local and regional level. The EU is the first major global economy to adopt, through specific National Energy and Climate Plans, a legally binding framework to deliver on its 2015 commitments under the COP21 Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda.
The EESC echoes the European Parliament's call to phase out all investor schemes and recommends that until then certain mitigation measures are put in place. Member States should be urged to apply a due diligence process without specific duration restrictions and adapted to the high-risk profile of applicants. A coordination mechanism should allow Member States to exchange information on successful and rejected applications for citizenship and residence permits. All agents and intermediaries providing services to applicants should be subject to anti-money-laundering rules as set out in the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The EU should encourage all agents providing services to applicants to be accredited and subject to a code of conduct. Authorities should maintain primary responsibility for accepting or rejecting applicants. Authorities must also maintain a set of measures to avoid conflicts of interest or bribery risks.