The Communication stresses the EU's commitment to safeguarding an online environment providing the highest possible freedom and security, for the benefit of its citizens.
Latin America and the Caribbean
The EESC has been working with Latin American and Caribbean counterpart organisations since the 1990s. Several EESC's opinions have focused on relations with this region, at regional, sub-regional and national level. The EESC's priorities include the development of civil society organisations, economic and social development, regional integration and cooperation in the multilateral sphere.
At a regional level, the EESC organises biennial meetings between civil society organisation representatives in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, as one of the preparatory events prior to the EU-CELAC Summit.
At sub-regional and national level, several permanent structures have been set up: In 2009, the EESC set up a civil society Round Table with the Brazilian Economic and Social Council to provide a forum for dialogue and continuous cooperation between representatives of Brazilian and European civil society. The EU-Chile Association Agreement gave the Committee a mandate to establish a Joint Consultative Committee with its Chilean civil society counterpart in order to monitor the agreement, which was finally set up in 2016. As regards the Andean Community countries, the EESC takes part in the Domestic Advisory Group monitoring the EU-Colombia/Peru/Ecuador free trade agreement. It also participates in the CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee that monitors the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement. Permanent relations have been established with the EESC's institutional counterparts in Mercosur (the Economic and Social Consultative Forum) and Central America (the Consultative Committee of the Central American Integration System).
The EESC is a strong advocate of a fair, well-administered and sustainable development policy at EU level. It is also very committed to the cause of greater tax justice. In recent years, questions have been raised as to whether the international tax policies of the Member States, in particular the concluding of certain types of double taxation agreements, are consistent with EU development policy objectives.
The 2030 Agenda, the new global framework for sustainable development agreed by the UN in 2015, needs to be reflected in EU's development policy, the major orientations of which are set out in the 2005 European Consensus on Development ("the Consensus").
To this end, the Commission issued Communication COM(2016) 740, "Proposal for a New European Consensus on Development: Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future" in November 2016. Interinstitutional negotiations are expected to result in its endorsement in the form of a Joint Statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, in May 2017.
The EESC wishes to draw up an opinion on the revision of the agreement with Mexico, paying special attention to civil society participation in the process, i.e. consultations during the negotiations and monitoring implementation of the new agreement following its entry into force.
The objective of the opinion under preparation will be to evaluate the appropriateness of the monitoring, evaluation and consultation mechanisms of organised civil society provided for by the Agreement as well as the compliance of Colombia and Peru with basic human, social and labour rights.