This opinion calls on the EU to develop a strategy to enhance continuous, learner-centred learning, with digitalisation and the deployment of trustworthy AI at its heart, and stresses the essential role of both public education and non-formal education to enhance inclusiveness and active citizenship. Such a strategy requires an increased allocation of EU funds and more cooperation between policymakers, education providers, social partners and other civil society organisations.
Opinions with Employers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
European industrial, energy and climate policy is hampered by contradictory requirements on the price for Greenhouse effect Gas (GHG) emissions: on the one hand, high prices would be necessary to incentivise investment and changes in consumption patterns; on the other, the preservation of the external competitiveness of EU energy-intensive industries, as well as the prevention of “carbon leakage”, would require low prices.
The proposed own-initiative report investigates the technical and legal feasibility of Border Adjustment Measures for the internal price of GHG emissions: importers pay the price, exporters get it refunded, as it already is the case for VAT. The refund of the GHG emission price to exporters could be based on a VAT-like accounting system. The GHG emission price paid by importers could be based on the basic metals and materials content of the product. This system would be in line with WTO rules, and rely upon fully proven methodologies.
The European Commission’s first progress report on the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries shows that a variety of actions have been launched to develop a significant battery industry in the EU. Although it is far too early to draw definitive conclusions, the EESC supports the initiatives that the Commission has taken and has announced it will take to work with Member States and European industry to break Europe's dependence on non-EU – particularly Asian – countries. There is much to be done in the coming years to achieve the necessary level of technological expertise in the EU, to secure the supply of raw materials from third countries and EU sources and to ensure that batteries can be recycled safely and cleanly. Investing in staff is the joint responsibility for the government and the business community.
This own-initiative opinion will focus on the interface and inter-linkages between the European semester and Cohesion policy under the new Multiannual Financial Framework with a view to developing policy proposals to improve sustainable growth performance. With the Europe 2020 Strategy coming to an end, these proposals can contribute to the preparation of a new European strategy post-2020.
The EESC calls for synergy between European PES Network strategy going beyond 2020 and the principles of the EPSR. An innovative role for PES in implementing national employment and labour market policies and in guaranteeing more effective services for companies has to be properly supported at national level with sufficient capacity, skilled staff, IT and technical equipment and financial support. Greater efforts should be made to monitor, evaluate and benchmark PES services to assess the effectiveness of these services in assisting jobseekers entering the labour market.
The future of Europe and of the EU will be shaped and developed by our young people – by the students sitting in classrooms today. The foundations of their perceptions of and attitudes towards developments in Europe and the EU, and of their according them value or rejecting them, are already being laid in class and during discussions at school. The aim of a "Teaching Europe" initiative would be to put more emphasis on Europe and the EU in teaching in schools, and to highlight the EU's main achievements and its future challenges. The way the history of the EU Member States is taught should also be taken into consideration. As an idea, easy-to-use teaching materials could be developed, which would explain, among other issues, the role played by the EESC, civil society and the social partners.
The EESC notes that the international role of the euro has not yet recovered to the pre-financial crisis level. Whereas the European Commission's proposed measures are welcome and deemed necessary by the EESC, they may not go far enough given the extent of the euro area's social and economic challenges. Social cohesion, economic upward convergence and the promotion of competitiveness and innovation should be the basis on which the euro area's economy gathers pace and supports a stronger international role for the euro.