The euro area needs to step up its external representation. This will strengthen its relative weight in international financial institutions and give it a more prominent position in international financial markets. The EESC endorses the rationale behind the two Commission documents and agrees with the main elements of the three-phase scenario to gain a single euro area chair at the IMF by 2025. At the same time, however, the EESC proposes that the Commission also draft scenarios for making stronger and more effective the links with other relevant international bodies, taking particular account of their remits. The EESC also recommends clearly and explicitly defining the roles of euro area external representation and their dovetailing with those of the EU as a whole, with a view to preserving the integrity of the single market.
Industry and Industrial Change - Related Opinions
The EESC reiterates its firm commitment to an Energy Union and a European energy dialogue. It supports optimal implementation of the SET Plan, which can be achieved through a joint, consistent approach involving the cooperation of energy policy stakeholders, cooperation between States, an efficient internal energy market and the consolidation and better coordination of energy research and innovation programmes. The added value of the SET Plan will derive from better coordination and a new system of governance for the European energy system. The most important task is the technical and scientific development of technologies and innovation, and the promotion of factors that encourage new ideas and concepts.
There is an urgent need to reindustrialise Europe. In order to achieve this the engineering and technical professions should be focused. These professions are indispensable in developing innovative production methods and products. However, without appropriate human resources and their potential, experience and knowledge, this goal is not to be achieved. Industry and companies should introduce communication policy to emphasise the attractiveness of the industrial sector; the crucial role belongs to industry associations. Better dialogue between companies and organisations in charge of vocational training might be an important step in facing the employment creation issue. What is more it could reduce differences between demand and supply.
In June 2011, the Commission adopted a Communication on Fighting Corruption in the EU, establishing the EU Anti-Corruption Report to monitor and assess Member States' efforts in this area with a view to developing a stronger political engagement to address corruption effectively. Corruption is defined in the report in a broad sense as "any abuse of power for private gain".
Digital technologies have reached a degree of maturity that allows their use across a wide range of economic sectors in manufacturing as well as in service industries. According to the 2010 edition of the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), more than 50% of the EU workforce use ICT in their daily work, with individual EU Member States reaching rates above 85%. Services sectors are identified as the heaviest users of ICT (for instance, more than 90% of finance employees using ICTS in their daily work), which is to be seen as a natural consequence of the increasing digitalisation of many services – such as eBanking, eCommerce, and online media.
The offshore industry comprises offshore energy production, together with the gas, oil and minerals extraction sectors. Some of the most rapidly developing markets are linked to these sectors, offering potential for long-term sustainable and smart growth. Maritime industries linked to the European offshore industry, including sectors such as shipbuilding, ship repairs and conversion, marine equipment and shipping supplies, have both specialist expertise and the requisite human potential enabling them to tap into markets linked to offshore sectors.
The Commission’s 2012 Communication on "promoting the cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the European Union" was a milestone in the recognition of the economic, social and cultural importance of these industries by the European institutions. This Communication was accompanied by two staff working documents (SWD) — one relating to the competitiveness of high-end industries , and the other to the competitiveness of the European fashion sector . This was followed by an action plan on the competitiveness of high-end industries and the European fashion sector.
The Food and drink Industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the EU economy employing directly 4.25 million workers in the EU. It is a non-cyclical and resilient pillar with a strong presence in all member states. It processes 70% of EU agriculture produce and provides safe, quality and nutritious food to the benefit of European consumers, besides being the largest global exporter of food and drink products. The sector generates 7% of EU GDP and should be an important contributor to achieve the EU target set in the 2020 strategy of achieving the necessary expansion of the manufacturing sector that will make it a contributor of 20% of European GDP.
The EESC welcomes the Proposal for a Directive presented by the European Commission, through which the Commission is continuing to implement the measures included in the action plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion. Information on advance tax rulings and advance pricing arrangements is very important and can help the Member States to trace artificial transactions. The EESC recommends that the Member States make efforts to ensure that the provisions of the proposal for a directive are transposed correctly.
The EESC is of the opinion that persisting imbalances as well as the creation of trust and confidence across Europe require more effective and democratic economic governance, notably in the Eurozone. It has become clear that the current system of rules underpinning the EU, and particularly the euro area, has created confusion on the legal, institutional and democratic fronts. A new approach is therefore needed. With this in mind, the Committee presents its contribution to the new five presidents' report which will propose next steps on better economic governance to the European Council in June. The EESC contribution summarises the different stages and puts forward institutional proposals and preparatory initiatives regarding the completion of the political pillar of the Economic and Monetary Union.