The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the Commission's initiative, considering it an important step in developing an industrial strategy for cybersecurity and a strategic move to achieve robust and comprehensive digital autonomy. These aspects are essential for strengthening Europe's defence mechanisms against the ongoing cyberwarfare that threatens to undermine its political, economic and social systems.
Opinions with Employers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
The EESC welcome the definitive destination principle-based VAT system for taxing goods in B2B relations and reminds that it is an important achievement proving the continuous consolidation of the EU internal market. The Committee urges the Commission to explore how a common VAT system for both services and goods can be rolled out as quickly as possible. The EESC recommends greater collaboration between national fiscal and enforcement authorities in order to make the new destination-based VAT system more effective in terms of both effectiveness against fraud and reliability in favour of European enterprises.
The European Economic and Social Committee would like to reiterate its commitment to the WTO as the guardian of international trade and a crucible for developing rules and disciplines to ensure fair trade, the liberalisation of trade in goods and services, and transparency in trade-related policy-making.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to speed up returns, but regrets that the recast was not supported by an impact assessment and/or public consultation on the existing Directive 2008/115/EC.
The EESC believes that an effective returns policy should be part of a truly common policy and legislation for legal migration and for asylum, which is currently missing, giving the impression that the EU adopts a purely security and policing-focused vision of migration as a criminal matter. Such a comprehensive common EU migration policy would also be the best answer to the extreme right-wing and nationalist discourse on migration.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to making the return procedure quicker and more efficient. Even so, consideration should be given to how realistic the proposed time-scales are and an assessment made of the obstacles that could frustrate this intention.
The EU’s geopolitical context has changed dramatically in the last decade. The situation in its neighbouring regions is unstable and it faces a complex and challenging environment in which new threats, such as hybrid and cyber-attacks, are emerging, and more conventional challenges are returning.
EU citizens and their political leaders agree that the EU should collectively take more responsibility for its security. In the joint declaration of 25 March 2017 in Rome, leaders of 27 Member States and the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission stated the Union will strengthen its common security and defence and foster a more competitive and integrated defence industry.
This opinion responds to a request from European Parliament for an exploratory opinion on gender equality in European labour markets, which had put a special emphasis on the pay situation and care obligations.
The opinion considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to policies for improving equality between women and men and to help implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. It reiterates the EESC positions on the gender pay gap and work-life balance and recommends gender neutral pay systems. It pleads to fight gender segregation in education, training and the labour market, in particular of women belonging to vulnerable groups.
The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) aims to prepare candidates and potential candidates for the rights and obligations of EU membership. First established for the 2007-2013 programming period, under the 2014–2020 MFF it is called IPA II. Its beneficiaries include the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Turkey. The proposed financial envelope for IPA III for the period 2021-2027 accounts for a 13 % increase compared to current IPA II funding, or €14.5 billion in current prices. The general objective of the IPA is to support EU aspirants to adopt and implement all reforms (political, institutional, legal, administrative, social and economic) required to comply with EU’s values and to progressively align to EU rules, standards policies and practices on their path towards EU membership.
The EESC supports the proposal to provide the Agency with its own permanent operational arm made up of 10 000 staff, while it recommends that cooperation between the Agency and the national administrations be defined and organised at European level in a clear and transparent manner.
Given the role which would be played by the Agency in the event of detention of individuals and their potential return to their countries of origin, the Committee recommends that statutory staff are given training modules on respect for fundamental rights.
The Committee calls for the EESC to be part of the Consultative Forum.
The proposal for a Regulation (COM(2018) 366) is based on Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union: the EU pursues the goal
to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples, the EU
shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced. But there is a clear perception that the number of challenges to face is larger, in particular the competition from online platforms and search engines, the concentration of the sector around a limited number of big players, or the rise of disinformation. With this new programme, the EU Commission wants to offer opportunities for operators to develop technologically and artistically innovative European trans-border initiatives to exchange, co-create, co-produce, and distribute European works. The purpose is also to strengthen the position of EU actors in the EU and global markets.