The EESC welcomes the fact that principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights reaffirms the right to access essential services/SGEIs. These are a vital component of social justice and are underpinned by the principle of equal treatment of users, prohibiting any kind of discrimination or exclusion whatsoever, and by the principle of universal access to services of a high level of affordability and quality.
Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN) - Related Opinions
The EESC takes careful note of the initiative's definition of disinformation as verifiably false or misleading information that is a threat to democracy and does public harm. Spreading disinformation has become a part of a hybrid war with a clear political aim. However, it also emphasises that, in addition to false information, highly selective information, defamation, scare-mongering and inciting hatred attack citizens' fundamental rights (freedoms) and minority rights.
Multiple actions from all stakeholders are needed to provide quality information and raise awareness. To this end, the EESC welcomes the initiative for coordinated action to protect the EU, its institutions and its citizens against disinformation. The EESC emphasises the urgency of such measures but is also concerned, however, that the impact of this action plan might be limited given that the May 2019 European elections are not far off.
The EESC supports the Commission's steps to ensure basic international HVG freight transport connectivity on a temporary basis between the Union and the United Kingdom.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the proposal for a regulation under examination grants UK road haulage operators the right, until 31/12/2019, to move freely within Union territory, in compliance with the common EU rules on access to the international haulage market, and provided that Union carriers can also move freely on UK territory under fair, equal and non-discriminatory conditions of competition.
The EESC underlined repeatedly that international aviation can only assume its role as an enabler for economic growth sustainably, if highest levels of safety are maintained. Prerequisites for safety are uniform standards which are implemented by all stakeholders and monitored by empowered agencies. Brexit may jeopardise such standards and uniform application in Europe in the field of aviation safety, because the pertinent EU regulations could no longer apply to UK aviation stakeholders as of March 2019.
In an – increasingly probable – "no Withdrawal Agreement" scenario, the legislation of the EU, in particular Regulation 1008/2008, would cease to apply for air services between the UK and the EU. This creates legal uncertainty, jeopardises planning stability and endangers continued connectivity for services between the UK and the EU. The EESC supports the thrust of the proposed Regulation as a contingency measure to secure basic air connectivity.
Digitalisation offers a wealth of new possibilities allowing people to make choices for a better life in an unprecedented way. On the other hand, the more digitalisation dominates our life, the more we can also be manipulated. The EESC calls for transparent rules to be developed, adapted and applied to these rapidly evolving technologies. Good persuasive technology should involve training, not manipulation, and comply with the principle of people's free choice, to guarantee human autonomy.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the Commission's initiative, considering it an important step in developing an industrial strategy for cybersecurity and a strategic move to achieve robust and comprehensive digital autonomy. These aspects are essential for strengthening Europe's defence mechanisms against the ongoing cyberwarfare that threatens to undermine its political, economic and social systems.
The EESC endorses the Commission's proposal and highlights the suggestions for future support put forward in the opinion.
The EESC does not suggest amending the proposal, but instead calls for closer monitoring of activities in areas raised in the opinion, particularly a sustainable development oriented approach in the choice of energy sources; proper consideration of the specific situation in Lithuania in particular, as well as in other countries concerned with regard to socio-economic aspects; dissemination throughout the EU of knowledge acquired in the area of dismantling and on the issue of training workers; safe and sustainable management of nuclear waste generated; and strengthening of performance indicators by including performance in relation to protecting workers from radiation.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the proposal for a regulation for the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) research and training programme 2021-2025.
The EESC considers the EURATOM budget to be proportionate to the objectives set and considers it essential to maintain this financial allocation regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The Committee also considers it crucial in this respect to manage the United Kingdom's exit from the Euratom programme with the utmost care, particularly with regard to research already in progress, shared infrastructure and the social impact on staff (e.g. working conditions) both on British soil and elsewhere.