Addressing the European Commission's report on trends and issues to watch back in March, the EESC stressed that it could have helped much more if it had been involved in the foresight exercise from the start.

The EESC opinion on the 2022 Strategic Foresight Report (SFR), adopted at the March plenary session, stressed that the EESC can strengthen the EU's analysis and foresight capacities. As the eyes and ears of civil society, it is best placed to pinpoint emerging trends. As a demonstration of this, the EESC also volunteered early input to the forthcoming 2023 SFR.

The rapporteur, Angelo Pagliara, set out some of the thinking behind the opinion: "Many of the issues in the Commission's report have already been addressed by the EESC in its opinions in previous years, and we have very strong expertise and experience. So, come to us, involve us more, because we can really help you."

The 2022 SFR looks into how best to align the EU's climate ambitions and its potentially clashing digital goals, and identifies ten key areas where action is needed to maximise synergies and consistency. In this respect, the EESC calls for a strategic foresight agenda geared towards a new development model that combines economic, environmental and social sustainability and puts people at the centre.

One of the key weaknesses that the EESC pointed to in the 2022 report is the lack of a clear picture of risks and scenarios should the EU fail to meet its objectives when it comes to the availability of raw materials, rare earth metals and water resources.

Looking ahead to the 2023 SFR, which the Commission is expected to publish in the second quarter of 2023 focusing on a socially and economically sustainable Europe, the EESC singled out the following areas for special attention:

  • supply systems and the resilience of Europe's agri-food sector;
  • fostering a strong, cohesive and innovative European industrial system that is capable of generating quality jobs;
  • the need to achieve strategic energy autonomy and to support businesses and workers, following on from what was done during the pandemic crisis. (dm)