The forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU (Germany), aims to conclude together with the other EU Member States the new Territorial Agenda of the European Union (TAEU) together with the revision of the urban development policy based on the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities and also to update the steps for further developing of the Urban Agenda for the EU. In this context, the Presidency has asked from EESC to provide an opinion on both territorial and urban matters and thus to incorporate the points of view of the diverse interests the EESC represents in the discussions. The Presidency plans to adopt the renewed Territorial and Urban Agenda at the informal ministerial meeting for urban and territorial development on 30 November and 1 December 2020 in Leipzig.
Opinions in the spotlight
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 believes that the Communication on Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond should be a strategic policy tool for rethinking the EU sustainable model of tourism and transport and calls for a comprehensive package of measures.
The EESC affirms that it is time for the European Commission to propose legislation on mandatory due diligence that acknowledges responsibility based on current standards and offers a clear and secure legal framework for European businesses. It must be ensured that victims of business-related Human Rights infringements have guaranteed access to fair proceedings, courts and authorities.
Aviation is one of the sectors most badly affected by the Corona crisis and the EU Member States are willing to assist all economic sectors in the recovery process. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that global economic activities will regain pre-Corona levels in the near future. For this reason, the EESC calls upon the Commission to develop a comprehensive road map for the recovery of the entire European aviation sector; such an action plan should include dedicated resources to support all sub-sectors and their workforce.
- The common foundation of any EU political engagement leading to an equal development partnership with Africa shall be based on a multidimensional approach, articulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the respect of Universal Human Rights (UHRs) - including fundamental rights, the right to a healthy environment and the freedom to conduct a business.
- The EESC advocates promoting a decent life and good prospects, creating a middle class and supporting equal partnerships by strengthening sustainable social-liberal democratic structures in Africa.
- The EESC highlights that the EU strategy on Africa must focus on Development and welcomes the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
- The EESC reiterates the important role of organised civil society in the up-coming ACP-EU Partnership Agreement.
Global supply chains (GSC) are key and complex in economic activities across the world and in global trade. Economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship are also contested by evidence of negative implications for working conditions as well as for sustainability in some supply chains.
The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled the serious downfalls related to highly fragmented and undiversified supply chains. It exposed the vulnerability of workers' health and safety, and it highlighted violations of human rights. Trade will have to play a key role in promoting a sustainable economic recovery. However, stronger instruments need to deliver on a socially and environmentally responsible business, trade and investment agenda.
GSC need to become more resilient, diversified and responsible, and ambitious actions need to ensure they contribute to a fairer economic and social model, based on sustainability and decent work.
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.
Securing sustainable access to raw materials, including metals, industrial minerals and construction raw materials, and particularly Critical Raw Materials (CRM), is of high importance for the EU economy. However, the EU is confronted with a number of technological and environmental challenges along the entire production value chain of primary and secondary raw materials.