EESC plenary to host Commissioner Nicolas Schmit ahead of Porto Social Summit

 PLENARY SESSION: 27-28 April 2021

EESC, Jacques Delors building and online

Highlights of the European Economic and Social Committee's April plenary:

  • 27 April, 5.30 pm / The EESC plenary will debate and vote on a resolution on the Conference on the Future of Europe, setting out a vision centred on a new narrative for Europe.
  • 28 April, 10.00 am / Adina Vălean, European commissioner for transport, will join the EESC for a debate on an EU strategy for sustainable and smart mobility and hear the EESC's proposals to ensure the strategy ties in better with the needs of civil society on the ground (see below).
  • 28 April, 11.00 am / The EESC will welcome Nicolas Schmit, European commissioner for jobs and social rights, for a discussion on the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, ahead of the Porto Social Summit next month and the planned EU Action Plan for Social Economy.

Key opinions to be put to the vote:

Health and COVID

  • Building a European Health Union (SOC/665, rapporteur Ioannis Vardakastanis – Diversity Europe, EL)

The Commission's recent proposals on the first building blocks of a future European health union aim to better prepare the EU against current and future health crises. They envisage a beefed-up mandate for the EU's two key agencies in the domain of public health and a stronger health security framework. The EESC emphasises the need to ensure equal access to quality healthcare for all, and in this context advocates that vaccines should remain a public good. It warns that the future health union should also pay due attention to non-communicable diseases and to mental health. More

  • Digital Green Certificate (SOC/683, rapporteur George Vernicos – Employers, EL)

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the tourism sector hard and revealed the importance of tourism for Europe not only from an economic point of view, but also in terms of living together. In the EESC's view, the introduction of the Green Digital Certificate is an excellent common standard to facilitate administrative work and minimise complexities for travellers, but cannot be considered a "free movement key accelerator". The Committee underlines that the certificate needs to be fully interoperable, secure and verifiable and that all EU countries should work together to achieve uniform framework conditions. More


  • Union of Equality: LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 (SOC/667, rapporteur Ionuț Sibian – Diversity Europe, RO; co-rapporteur Maria del Carmen Barrera Chamorro, Workers, ES)

The EESC welcomes and supports the European Commission's courage in adopting the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025, which aims to reduce discrimination and ensure the safety and fundamental rights of LGTBIQ people throughout the European Union. One of the most pressing issues concerns discrimination in the workplace and access to the labour market, which need to be addressed by improving the employability of LGTBIQ people, adopting active employment policies and introducing an LGTBIQ perspective in employment. More


  • Communication on cybersecurity strategy (INT/930, rapporteur Philip von Brockdorff – Workers, MT)

Hailing the strategy as a step forward towards protecting governments, people and businesses across the EU from global cyber threats, the EESC nonetheless flags up a skills gap in cybersecurity, calling for an EU-wide "Cyber Security Career Pathways Tool" to help individuals who wish to start a career in cybersecurity to identify, navigate and build a career path for themselves in this fast changing field. The EESC also stresses that any cybersecurity strategy should cover the crucial issue of preventing disinformation, and that any foreign investment in strategic sectors in the EU should conform with the EU’s security policy. More

  • Cybersecurity and Resilience of Critical Entities (TEN/730, rapporteur Maurizio Mensi – Diversity Europe, IT)

The EESC welcomes the Commission's two proposals to make public and private entities more resilient to threats from cyber and physical attacks, but calls for simplification by merging them into one single text and says that a regulation would be preferable to a directive. More


  • Strategy for sustainable and smart mobility (TEN/729, rapporteur Stefan Back – Employers, SE; co-rapporteur Tanja Buzek – Workers, DE)

The Committee addresses the Commission's new Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, stressing the advantages and vital role of transport for people and the EU economy, but also highlighting the disadvantages and costs for society. More


  •  Digital Markets Act (INT/928, rapporteur Emilie Prouzet –Employers, FR)

The EESC overall welcomes the Digital Markets Act proposed by the European Commission to prevent digital "gatekeepers" from imposing unfair conditions on businesses and consumers and ensure that key digital services remain accessible. Specific provisions need beefing up though, in the EESC's view, such as for instance the conditions for triggering a market investigation into a gatekeeper's use of unfair practices – which in the proposal are set at three non-compliance acts within five years – and the penalties for infringers. More

  • Digital Services Act (INT/929, rapporteur Gonçalo Lobo Xavier –Employers, PT)

The EESC is supportive of the European Commission's efforts to prevent the proliferation of national rules and regulations, and believes the DSA is an opportunity to establish global standards for digital markets and at the same time carry the EU's strong consumer protection into the digital age. However, the Committee highlights a number of weaknesses, among others the many shortcomings linked to the country of origin principle. The Committee would recommend that the country of destination principle be applied instead in tax, labour and consumer issues unless there is a stronger regulation at EU level. More

  •  Regulation on European data governance (INT/921, rapporteur Giuseppe Guerini –Diversity Europe Group, IT; co-rapporteur Marinel Dănuț Mureşan – Employers, RO)

As data processing, storage and sharing are becoming more and more important both for the economy and for social and civic reasons, the Committee believes that a harmonised set of rules is essential if people and companies are to trust that their data will be properly protected. In the area of work, the EESC highlights that there need to be rules for the use of data management and processing tools based on artificial intelligence, which should first be discussed and negotiated with the social partners. More

 Agriculture and rural development

  • Evaluation of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (NAT/805, rapporteur José Manuel Roche Ramo – Diversity Europe, ES)

While the current Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive has proven to be effective in achieving better use of plant protection products, the lack of adequate knowledge remains the main obstacle to its optimal use. Despite the fact that European farmers remain strongly committed to moving towards more sustainable farming practices, they need to have alternative solutions and new technologies that are sufficiently cost-effective at the same time. More

  • Evaluation of the CAP's impact on territorial development of rural areas (NAT/806, rapporteur Piroska Kállay – Workers, HU)

In a time of paradigm shift (uncertain climate, increasing prevalence of epidemics, teleworking, digitalisation, new technologies and solutions), the CAP needs to support this change and the adaptation of the agri-food sector and the whole rural economy in a more participatory way. More needs to be done in the field of infrastructure, innovation and access to finance, towards more balanced territorial development. More

EESC plenary session
Jacques Delors building and online

27 April, 2.30 to 8 pm, 28 March, 10 am to 1 pm

Watch the plenary session here - The agenda is available here