The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a Data Strategy that sets cross-sectoral data sharing as a priority and to improve the use, sharing, access and governance of data with legislative, sector-specific action. An ambitious Data Strategy can address the critical need to enhance EU data capabilities.
In this opinion, the EESC notes that platforms have "a generally positive impact on the economy", contributing as much to job creation and innovation, flexibility and autonomy for workers, as to ensuring income for workers (often supplementary) and allowing vulnerable people to access employment. It also notes that there are risks that must not be underestimated: (i) for workers, the denial of basic rights, including the rights to organisation and collective bargaining; precariousness; low pay; the increasing intensity of work; the extreme fragmentation of work on a global scale; the non-affiliation of workers to social security schemes; and (ii) for society, the increased risk of competition based on undercutting social standards.
The Commission's decision to create a Digital Single Market (to remove virtual borders, boost digital connectivity, and make it easier for consumers to access cross-border online content) is therefore a welcome move. But what does it mean for SMEs in practice? How will this affect their day-to-day running? And, given the lessons learnt from previous rapid changes, how do we make an "inclusive" success of the Digital Single Market?
In this own-initiative opinion, the EESC calls on the European Union to develop a coherent and uniform approach to protecting unaccompanied foreign minors in Europe. It urges the European Commission to draw up a Directive on the protection of unaccompanied minors that serves the best interests of the child. The principle of "the best interests of the child" should take precedence over all other national and international law. The EESC calls on the Member States to evaluate minority based on a body of evidence, consisting principally of the declarations by the person in question, civil status documents presented and interviews with the person. Given that bone tests are not really reliable, the EESC calls for them to simply be stopped.
Europe is embarking on a transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership. European businesses can lead the way as we enter this new age, as they has done in the past.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are essential to Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity. Based on the new SME Strategy, the EU will support SMEs by:
- encouraging innovation through new funding and digital innovation hubs as part of the sustainable and digital transitions;
- cutting red tape by reducing barriers within the Single Market and opening up access to finance;
- allowing better access to finance by setting up an SME Initial Public Offering Fund (with investments channelled through a new private-public fund) and the ESCALAR initiative (a mechanism to boost the size of venture capital funds and attract more private investment).
The EESC congratulates the Commission's for its strategy to encourage the uptake of AI technologies while also ensuring their compliance with European ethical norms, legal requirements and social values.
In this opinion the EESC makes the following points:
1. The EU and Member States should ensure that the gender perspective is fully integrated in COVID-19 recovery measures.
2. Gender equality should be fully taken into account in the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
3. The Gender Equality Strategy should be coordinated involving all Member States, social partners and civil society organisations.
4. To put an end to the gender pay gap (16%), binding measures on gender pay transparency are unavoidable.
5. ... Read more
This EESC opinion will respond to the European Commission's proposal for a regulation on establishing a European Climate Law and it will look into the role of citizens in driving the transformation towards climate neutrality.