The EESC believes that AI and automation processes have enormous potential to improve European society in terms of innovation and positive transformation, but they also pose significant challenges, risks and concerns.
Opinions with Employers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
The EESC welcomes the request of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union for an exploratory opinion on "The impact of subsidiarity and gold-plating on the economy and employment". It adds value and more aspects to the ongoing debate on Better Regulation to provide legal certainty, clear rules and "to ensure that regulatory burdens on businesses, citizens or public administrations are kept to a minimum".
The EESC reiterates its demand that future-related issues including debates on competences and on the level of regulations must be addressed at national and European level with the full participation of social partners and other civil society organisations. This is a fundamental expression of multi-level participatory democracy and must therefore be strengthened in the EU and the Member States.
The annual revision of the Eurostat SDG Report must be an opportunity for broader dialogue with civil society concerning which indicators be included and what the target for each of these should be. This own-initiative opinion examines how organised civil society could be better involved in a more qualitative follow-up of the annual revision of the Eurostat SDG report as part of SDG monitoring and follow-up programmes that have been established.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the Commission has made it clear that research and innovation must continue to be an essential EU priority.
The Internet of Things (IoT), thanks to its interconnectivity of persons and objects, offers a vast range of opportunities for individuals and businesses. These opportunities must be backed by a series of safeguards and controls so as to ensure introduction of the IoT is problem-free. With this opinion the EESC aims to promote awareness-raising and digital capacity-building initiatives and calls inter alia on the European institutions and EU Member States to ensure that security and privacy are protection by building appropriate regulatory frameworks that contain strict monitoring and control provisions.
The future Austrian Presidency of the Council has requested the EESC to draw up an exploratory opinion on the Bioeconomy, and how it can contribute to achieving the EU's climate, energy goals and the UN's sustainable development goals.
The EESC underlines European territorial cooperation (ETC) is a unique instrument of cohesion policy and one of the very few frameworks in which national, regional and local players from different Member States are systematically called upon to carry out joint measures and exchange practices and strategies.
The EESC advocates for a stronger budget for the Connecting Europe Facility for after 2020.
The EESC recommends that the European Commission and the Member States further encourage synergies at project level between the three sectors, which are currently limited because of the rigidity of the budgetary framework as regards the eligibility of projects and of costs.
The EESC urges the co-legislators to maintain the commitment in the previous CEF regulation to spend "the major part" of the energy budget on electricity projects.
The EESC recommends that the financial capacity of the CEF programme under the next MFF should be increased and better balanced between the three sectors in order to maintain high credibility and attractiveness for investors.
The EESC welcomes the proposed Regulation. It builds on and replaces the existing Regulation, on which the EESC commented in January 2011, and tries to learn from experiences at national and EU level since it came into force in 2013 and into (intended) full effect by September 2014. The EESC notes a number of areas where greater clarity on the scope and implementation of the Regulation should be considered; these will also need to be discussed in greater detail with Member States in the months ahead. The EESC questions the effectiveness of grouping such widely disparate substances under a single regulatory regime. This makes the legislation hard to draft and even harder to implement or comprehend as a professional user or member of the general public. A different substance-specific approach is therefore recommended. EU legislation in respect of drug precursors provides a useful model for this.