The EESC is pleased that the proposal puts health, safety and fundamental rights at its centre and is global in scope. In line with its long advocated "human-in-command" approach to AI, the EESC strongly recommends that the AIA provide for certain decisions to remain the prerogative of humans.
This opinion seeks to analyse the impact of the emergency measures aimed at limiting unemployment, supporting income and helping businesses, with a particular focus on the SURE instrument. The EESC considers SURE as a positive and innovative financial instrument which delivers on European solidarity to preserve jobs, provide income support to workers and support businesses, as well as a tool for integration and socio-economic resilience in the EU. It is proposed that a SURE observatory is set up for as long as the financial instrument is in operation, involving the social partners and other civil society organisations. The EESC also fully acknowledges the positive results of SURE highlighted in the Commission's report of March 2021 and endorses the proposal for its stabilisation in support of workers and businesses as a tool for the EU's integration and socio-economic resilience in times of crisis such as the current one.
This opinion provides with the EESC's views on the new EU Strategy on voluntary return and reintegration, a key objective under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The EESC welcomes the strategy as a management tool that seeks to improve coordination and Member States' shared objectives in the field of migration governance. It also agrees with the Commission's approach of further reviewing and harmonising the existing instruments, in order to, among other things, improve the fragmented approach to the issue, reduce the costs of return and increase the funding allocated to programmes. The EESC however continues to hold the view that the strategic weakness of the European Union's immigration and asylum policy is its almost exclusive focus on tackling irregular situations, whether at the border or through voluntary and forced returns.
The Commission proposal contributes to the creation of a "Europe fit for the digital age" that can make the most of the digital transition, in order to give citizens better opportunities to connect, communicate and facilitate professional and business activity in the single market. The Committee welcomes this draft European regulation and deems it necessary that the proposal at last aim to provide consumers with the same level of service and protection abroad as at home.
Digital transformation begins with the trust of citizens and businesses. This exploratory opinion at the request of the Slovenian EU Presidency proposes the tools needed to build public trust in digital technologies and motivate people to participate in digital training.
Trade Policy Review - An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy
The EESC welcomes both the Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Child Guarantee, and considers that their implementation will help support efforts at European and national level aimed at promoting children's well-being and reducing child poverty. This opinion calls for the consultation and involvement of organised civil society, children's and family organisations, amongst other stakeholders, in the drafting of national action plans and their monitoring mechanisms. The EESC recommends all Member States to earmark ESF+ funding for lifting children out of poverty, with the designated 5% taken as a minimum. Furthermore, it recommends them to grant free access to early childhood education and care, education and school-based activities and healthcare or grant these services free of charge.
The Own Resources Decision (ORD) entered into force on 1 June, enabling the Commission to start borrowing resources for the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery instrument. For the EESC, a well-functioning funding strategy is key for the smooth implementation of NGEU. Sound and sustainable funding and solid risk management are in the very interests of civil society. Moreover, borrowing and debt management has to be based on democratic control, legitimacy and transparency.
The EESC stresses how important it is that the Commission manage the funding strategy directly and does not outsource this. The massive engagement on capital markets will be accompanied with a broad set of risks. The EESC supports the establishment of solid risk-management systems and the holding of the 'NGEU account' with the ECB.