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Editorial

Reasserting Europe's values

Dear readers,

Less than seven months ahead of the EU elections, Europe finds itself at a crossroads.

What a few years ago seemed impossible now appears to be our daily challenge: I am talking about the questioning of the EU and threats to its values. Whether it is democracy, freedom, equality, respect for human dignity and human rights or the rule of law, our values are challenged in many parts of the Union. But values are the cornerstone of the EU, and when they are threatened the Union is shaken to its core.

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Diary Dates

22-23/11/2018, Athens, Greece

12th EESC Civil Society Media Seminar - Reasserting Europe's values

28/11/2018, Brussels

EESC Consumer Summit

30/11/2018, Brussels

Tackling premature obsolescence in Europe

12-13/12/2018, Brussels

EESC plenary session

In short

Gianluca Brunetti, new Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has appointed Mr Gianluca Brunetti, former HR and Finance Director at the EESC, as its new Secretary General from 14th November 2018.

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The EESC loves European cinema

On 23 October the premiere of the film Cold War by Paweł Pawlikowski (Oscar for IDA in 2015 and Best Director award at Cannes in 2018) was held in Brussels' Centre for Fine Arts, known as BOZAR. The EESC was a co-partner for this event, organised in tandem with the European Commission (Creative Europe), the European Parliament (Lux Film Prize) and BOZAR.

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Luca Jahier: "Europe must be sustainable or it will simply not be"

Luca Jahier stated at the high-level conference on Sustainable Development Goals and Initiatives for Sustainable Global Value Chains co-hosted by the EESC, the European Commission and the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands that there is no alternative to a sustainable economy: "Europe must be sustainable or it will simply not be".

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Civil society organisations ask Serbia to strengthen the rule of law

The 7th meeting of the EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) that took place in Belgrade on 23 October enabled civil society organisations from both sides to examine the state of play of Serbia's accession process.

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EESC welcomes first loan to social economy under Juncker Plan

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted the Spanish social economy enterprise ILUNION a EUR 35 million loan from. The loan recognises the potential of the social economy, which the EESC has long acknowledged. The loan is expected to create 725 new jobs.

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EESC News

Commissioner Stylianides: rescEU is only a first upgrade of Civil Protection Mechanism

Given the dramatic impact of climate change, the EESC has urged the EU institutions to adopt further joint measures and policies as part of its rescEU proposal to respond to disasters more efficiently and effectively.

 

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EESC wants civil society to play greater role in EU external action

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, attended the EESC's plenary session on 17 October 2018 to discuss the main external threats and challenges facing the EU. EESC president Luca Jahier highlighted the important role of the EU as a major humanitarian aid donor, pointing out that "civil society organisations are willing to be part of this effort".

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40% of EU budget should be earmarked for climate change

With its opinion on a"Finance-climate pact", the EESC wants to ensure the financing of the necessary transitions to green our economy. It argues that 40% of the EU budget should be devoted to the fight against climate change and its consequences. 

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A strong, fully-funded CAP is essential

The EESC believes a strong, fully-funded common agricultural policy (CAP) is essential and rejects any cuts to the CAP budget. It welcomes the legislative proposals on the CAP, with the new focus on greater ambition in the area of the environment and climate change, subsidiarity and simplification, but is keen to ensure that the CAP remains a common policy with a strong single market.

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EESC gives fresh input to improve economic governance in EU

EU economic governance

In October, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted a package of opinions on EU economic governance, providing European decision-makers with new input for the ongoing discussions on deepening economic and monetary union (EMU) and the next European Semester exercise.

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Cuts to cohesion policy budget send out wrong signal

The EESC firmly believes that cohesion policy is a key element for Europe's future, warranting sufficient resources and appropriate reform. A budget cut for the 2021-2027 programming period would send out the wrong signal to the public and could be harmful for cohesion policy. The budget must be kept at the level for territorial cooperation.

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EESC calls for swift but gradual transition to sustainable economy

The EU has committed itself to working towards a low-carbon, more resource-efficient and sustainable economy in addition to social goals. Financing these commitments, taking into account environmental, social and governance criteria, constitutes an enormous investment challenge.

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EESC supports testing SBBSs on markets but calls for stronger enabling framework

SBBS

Sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBSs) can contribute to greater diversification of and risk reduction for sovereign bond portfolios held by banks and other financial operators. This could have a positive impact on the stability and resilience of the financial system and improve financial market integration.

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New migration and border management funds should focus on migrant integration

The EESC supports the new Fund for asylum and migration and Fund for border and visa management. In the opinion adopted at its October plenary session and drafted by Giuseppe Iuliano, the Committee agrees with the Commission decision to increase the budget for both policy areas, but says the word "integration" should stay in the name of the fund for migration, and that provisions should be made for regular to access to the EU.

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EESC against slashing EU main fund for investing in people

The EESC is highly critical of the proposed six percent reduction in allocations for the new European Social Fund Plus which will, in the new EU long-term funding period 2021-2027, merge several existing funds and programmes aimed at strengthening the Union’s social dimension.

 

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Third Mobility Package should take all forms of transport into account

The new Commission proposal must go further, encompassing all available forms of transport. It should focus on intermodality in freight and passenger transport. In the opinion drafted by Giulia Barbucci and adopted at its October plenary session, the EESC backs the Third Mobility Package presented by the Commission but advocates a more ambitious project.

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Digitalisation must be inclusive

The Digital Europe programme put together by the Commission takes a step in the right direction by recognising the key role played by digital skills, but could be more closely tied to social realities. In the opinion drawn up by Norbert Kluge and Ulrich Samm and adopted at the October plenary session, the EESC backs the Commission proposal and points out that digitalisation in Europe must be inclusive, with the "digital dividend" being distributed equally through appropriate policy measures.

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Bringing consumers closer to the heart of finance

Digital cross-border financial services are far from popular with European consumers, who still prefer the actual contact offered by national retail banks. More efforts are needed to give European consumers better choice, clearly understandable products and affordable services, while making cross border transactions safer and more secure. These were the main takeaways from a debate held at the EESC on 26 September.

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News from the Groups

The EU finally on the way to a social Europe?

By the EESC's Workers' Group

Workshop on the European Pillar of Social Rights in St. Pölten on 12 October 2018
 

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Liberal professions 4.0: sustainable transformation of professional features

By the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

The EESC's Diversity Europe group will be hosting an event on the liberal professions, focusing on the sustainable transformation of professional features. The event aims to gain new insights in order to come up with a future-proof definition of the liberal professions in a digitalised professional world.

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How to support businesses in the digital age – SMEs go digital

By the EESC's Employers' Group

Lack of awareness, underdeveloped infrastructure, high investment costs as well as skills shortages and mismatches – these are some of the challenges that SMEs are facing when trying to benefit from the digital revolution. The participants of the conference How to support businesses in the digital age – SMEs go digital tried to identify potential obstacles and propose solutions to address them in the future. The event took place on 24 October 2018 in Vienna, Austria.

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Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

Your Europe, Your Say! 2019: Vote for the future!

Your Europe, Your Say!, the European Economic and Social Committee's flagship event giving young people a voice in European policy-making, will turn 10 next year. 2019 will be an election year and the new European Parliament will have very important decisions to make, at a time when everything, from the economy to communication and from politics to social trends, is being revolutionised.

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