The EESC adopted unanimously in September 2020 the opinion "SME strategy". Amongst its main conclusions were the plead to the Commission to draw up a "Next Generation SME Strategy". Unfortunately, in its 2021 Work Program, the European Commission chose to commit to an update of the Industrial, but not of the SME Strategy. The objectives of this follow-up opinion are the following: present the SME position on how to channel in the best way the unprecedented financial support, coming from the MFF 2021-2027, Next Generation EU and Recovery and Resilience Facility Mechanism; identify and respond to the difficulties SMEs face when accessing the single market and generate ideas on how to use the COVID-19 crisis as a driver for change and catalyst of the transition of the SMEs towards sustainable and digital economy.
The proposal builds on 2030 Digital Compass, in which the Commission laid out the vision for a successful digital transformation of Europe's economy and society by the end of the decade. It introduces now a robust governance framework to reach the digital targets in the form of a Path to the Digital Decade.
The upcoming French Presidency of the Council of the European Union asked the EESC to prepare an opinion on how the industrial ecosystems identified by the Commission will contribute to the EU's strategic autonomy and the well-being of its citizens.
The Commission intends to renew its strategic partnership with the outermost regions, adapting it to the EU priorities on green and digital transition for a stronger recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. The new Communication is expected to be published in April 2022. In this context, the forthcoming French EU Presidency, aims to conclude together with the other EU Member States this new strategic approach to the outermost regions for a green, digital and fair recovery. More specifically, the Presidency plans to adopt Council conclusions on outermost regions that are going to be presented in the GAC (General Affairs Council) on June 2022. The French Presidency asks the contribution of civil society organisations on the new priorities for the strategic approach and partnership with these regions.
EESC opinion: The benefits of the outermost regions for the European Union
The EESC :
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) face challenges in the area of digitalisation and access to artificial intelligence, but this segment can take great advantage of the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence.
The main objective of the opinion is to propose concrete measures which can be easily implemented in order to avoid MSMEs being “left behind” from the transition to artificial intelligence. The main issues to be addressed are: the use of new technologies to offer innovative products and services and strengthen Europe’s capacity to invest in disruptive innovations; create closer links in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) between universities and public administration, on the one hand, and businesses, in particular SMEs and micro-enterprises, on the other; support the MSMEs in recruiting and ensuring skills development for their employees to cope with the technological changes brought about by AI; facilitate the access to EU funding.
Environmental criminal offences are a growing concern for human health, the environment and the economy that is reflected in increasing levels of pollution, degradation of wildlife, a reduction in biodiversity and the disturbance of ecological balance within and outside the EU. This EESC opinion will cover the Commission's Proposal for the new Directive and the Communication that accompanied it.