This opinion deals with three of four megatrends at the heart of the new Commission priorities: climate change, biodiversity loss and globalisation. While the European Green Deal will result in higher environmental standards with, for instance, stricter climate change targets, it is important that all Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are not undermining these improvements by contributing to deforestation or biodiversity loss in other countries. As one of the world's largest importer of energy, agricultural goods and raw materials, the EU has contributed to deforestation and biodiversity loss in other countries.
The Commission's new Circular Economy Action Plan focuses on sustainable products, less waste, product value chains, and circularity in regions and cities, and the global level.
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, through its consultation and platform can offer an expert, objective view that identifies key priorities for future rural policy, thereby considering in particular the needs of the vulnerable regions. Rural-proofing needs to be reinvigorated alongside specific rural policies while transgenerational and smart community measures need to be mainstreamed.
The forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU (Germany), aims to further discuss and analyze the policy objective 1 under the Common Provisions Regulation for cohesion policy that refers to '' a smarter Europe by promoting innovative and smart economic transformation''. In this context, the Presidency has asked the EESC to provide an opinion on how the structural measures and cohesion policy programmes can help in this process. The Presidency plans to present the key findings of this discussion in a High-level conference that will take place on 29th of September where also the opinion of EESC will be discussed.