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Editorial

A Europe that protects…

Dear readers,

A Europe that protects is the motto that Austria has chosen for its rotating presidency of the EU, which will run until 31 December. A motto that can be interpreted in many different ways: A Europe that protects its citizens from poverty by implementing a robust social pillar, from diseases by applying the best health care measures, from injustice and persecution by putting in place a fair and just legal system, etc. It could also be taken to mean a Europe that provides shelter for those fleeing persecution and injustice, poverty or war.

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Diary Dates

03/09/2018, Brussels

Justice, Rights and Values Fund - Public hearing

06/09/2018, Brussels

European Regional Development and Cohesion Policy for 2021-2027 – Public hearing

10/09/2018, Thessaloniki

European Company Law Package - Public Hearing

19-20/09/2018, Brussels

EESC Plenary session

In short

EESC President Luca Jahier and Communication Vice-President Isabel Caño Aguilar issue statement on tragic fires in Greece

On behalf of the Members of the European Economic and Social Committee we would like to assure the people of Greece of our full solidarity.

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Austrian contemporary art showcased at the EESC

Austria Contemporary displays a small yet representative selection of works from the Republic of Austria's collection of contemporary art, focusing on works created in recent times and offering insights into working methods and trends in contemporary art. The exhibition is one of the initiatives organised by the EESC in conjunction with the Austrian Presidency of the EU.

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María Echevarria, Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee ad interim

Since 10 July 2018, following the decision of the EESC Bureau, María Echevarria has been the acting secretary-general of the European Economic and Social Committee, and will remain in the post until the appointment of a new secretary-general.

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New publications

The EESC from the inside out – Annual Activity Report 2017

Anyone wishing to have a bird's eye view of the EESC's activities and achievements in 2017 should take a look at this brochure - a shorter, condensed version of the EESC's full Annual Activity Report intended for both the general public and the institutions.

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EESC News

2018 Civil Society Prize: applications open throughout the summer

Still time for organisations and individuals engaged in promoting European culture and heritage to apply for the EESC's 2018 Civil Society Prize in a bid to both raise their profile and get a cash injection to fund their future projects.

 

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The energy transition can benefit Europe's regional economies

The energy transition can benefit Europe's regional economies. The transition to decentralised, renewable and digitalised forms of energy supply would have economic benefits for the regions of the European Union, in addition to environmental benefits. In a report by Lutz Ribbe, the EESC says that there are at least four reasons why smart energy production can help regional economies and it asks the European Commission to systematically link future regional and social cohesion policy to the Energy Union initiative.

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Europe must do more to protect women with disabilities

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called on the EU institutions and Member States to step up their efforts to protect women and girls with disabilities, who continue to face multiple forms of discrimination in EU society on the grounds of both their gender and disability, often resulting in their social exclusion.

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Taxation of digital business activities should be tackled at global level

Digital tax

Any solution for the taxation of digital business models proposed for EU level must be in line with common international corporate taxation practice and agreements, says the EESC in a recently adopted report. Instead, the European Commission's legislative package aims to tax businesses' turnover rather than profits, and to levy taxes where sales take place instead of where value is created.

 

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EESC welcomes FinTech Action Plan with some reservations

The measures proposed by the European Commission concerning the development of technology for the financial sector (FinTech) in Europe must be adjusted so as to balance market stimulation and the security and stability of the financial and economic system. In the EESC's view, the proposed Action Plan is a good basis but additional measures are needed to tap the full potential of FinTech and ensure certainty, protection and equal market conditions for all market participants.

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More measures urgently needed to reduce non-performing loans

NPLs

The EESC welcomes the proposals on non-performing loans (NPLs) made by the European Commission. Although the Committee suggests an impact assessment for the proposed regulation, it believes that the proposals will contribute to strengthening the EMU and to moving towards the completion of the banking union.

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No more water privatisation, says EESC

The EESC believes that an updated Drinking Water Directive – following the Right2Water citizens' initiative - should be based on the WHO guidelines. It should embrace the human right to access to water. The EESC opinion Drinking water directive calls for a stop to water privatisation and wants to see measures that motivate people to make considered use of this finite resource. The Committee also wants potential problems in the mineral water industry to be anticipated.

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EESC urges Austria's EU presidency to use its power as a bridge-builder to reinforce Europe's unity

Migration was one of the main topics when Gernot Blümel, Austrian Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media, presented Austria's EU programme at the EESC plenary session on 11 July.

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EESC calls for a more integrated approach to transport

Transport plays a key enabling role in making sustainable development a reality. It contributes to the economy, trade and employment, but raises issues with regard to the environment, traffic and safety. In a report by Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala, the EESC reviews the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, by providing a cross-cutting approach where the economic, social and environmental aspects come together, urges the Commission to prepare a new and integrated framework for future EU transport policy.

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Digital transformation should be socially and ethically responsible

Digital transition in the EU should be underpinned by respect for European values and supported by more robust social policies so as to ensure that no one is left behind. European society as a whole workers, companies and the general public alike – should instead be able to benefit from the huge potential offered by new technologies, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) said at its July plenary.

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Social policy reforms among top priorities for Montenegro's EU accession

Members of the European Economic and Social Committee  and representatives of Montenegro's civil society met in Podgorica on 17 July to discuss the state of play and the work ahead in Montenegro's EU accession negotiations and adopted a joint declaration.

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Young African entrepreneurs at the heart of economic and social development

The Africa-EU Economic and Social Stakeholders' Network sees young people in Africa as key actors in Africa's economic and social development. Their annual meeting focused on Africa's young people as a driver of economic development and as the age group most concerned by migration.

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News from the Groups

Skills mismatch: we are losing millions, and will be losing even more!

By the EESC's Employers' Group

The European economy loses over 2% of productivity per year due to a skills mismatch, according to a recent study commissioned by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). This means a loss of 80 cents per hour of work. The situation will get even worse if no reforms are undertaken.

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Work 4.0 hits hardest where social partners are weakest

By the EESC Workers' Group

A study by the EESC's Workers' Group of national strategies on Work 4.0 shows that the involvement of the social partners is essential and that workers are worst hit where collective bargaining has declined.

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Regaining citizens' trust and confidence in the EU

by the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

A structured brainstorming session organised by the EESC's Diversity Europe Group on 20 July encouraged participants to think out of the box and come up with ideas to feed into proposals for the Sibiu Summit on the Future of Europe.

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