High-level officials from the European External Action Service (EEAS), members of the European Parliament (EP), and a representative from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) convened in Kiev for the 3rd Association Exchange Forum. Together they discussed recent achievements and shared experiences, best practices and lessons learnt regarding AAs, institutional set-ups, implementation monitoring issues and civil society involvement. Dr. Istvan Komoroczki, EESC chairman of the EU-Georgia Civil Society Platform from the Employers Group, also took part in the Forum.
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The priorities of the Croatian presidency and the contribution of employers to their implementation were the main topics of the Employers' Group president's bilateral meetings during his visit in Zagreb on 14 and 15 November 2019. Jacek Krawczyk met representatives of the Croatian government and parliament, and leaders of Croatian employers' associations.
Dr Angelika Winzig, Member of the European Parliament, joined the EESC's SMEs, Crafts and Family Business Category meeting on 13 November to discuss current priorities and challenges for Europe's SMEs and their competitiveness on a global scale.
The transition to a climate-neutral future by 2050 needs to be supported by significant investment and a regulatory framework that ensures a level playing field for companies from Europe and other parts of the globe. Moreover, such a transition will only be feasible if all stakeholders are on board. The road to climate neutrality will entail costs for all parties – governments, companies, and citizens too – and everyone needs to be aware of that. These are some of the main takeaways from the Round Table on the "Business perspective on the transition to a climate-neutral future by 2050" that took place in Brussels on 6 November.
The list of new work appointments for October 2019 and the most recent list of ongoing EESC work are available for download in the attachments below.
Having SME policy as a horizontal priority is an indispensable way to address numerous, cross-cutting challenges that they are currently facing. Current trends cause bigger challenges for SMEs than for bigger companies. Therefore, it is high time for policy makers to act upon it. This was discussed at the conference "Placing European SMEs at a horizontal priority in post-2020 policy making process". The conference took place on 24 October 2019 in Chania, Greece and was organised by the Employers' Group, Chania's Traders Association and the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
"An open economy and open society are key enablers of European prosperity, wellbeing and way of life" states the Helsinki Declaration on Open Europe. The declaration was signed by the EESC Employers' Group, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and Finland Chamber of Commerce during the conference "An open Europe – How does it benefit us all?" on 9 October in Helsinki, Finland.
On 25 September 2019, the European Economic and Social Committee voted on the opinion SOC/614 – The European Pillar of Social Rights – evaluation of the initial implementation and recommendations for the future. The document was adopted with 117 votes for, 44 votes against and 3 abstentions. The majority of the Employers' Group members voted against the opinion as the document does not present the variety of views within the EESC in a balanced manner. That is also why the members of the Employers' Group tabled over 40 amendments to the opinion.
Even though the current European Commission managed to remove a number of obstacles to the single market, there is still a long way to go, especially when it comes to services and the digital single market. Further completion of the single market will remain high on the new Commission's agenda. The Green Deal and Artificial Intelligence will have a significant impact on the economy and this is where the Commission will definitely need feedback from industry. These were some of the main outcomes of the discussion with Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. The debate took place at the Employers' Group meeting on 25 September 2019.
Striking the right balance between privacy and the free flow of data, "demystifying" artificial intelligence (AI), fostering cooperation between Member States and focusing on research were some of the answers given by the panellists to the question "What does Europe need to be a frontrunner in AI and digitalisation?" This question was discussed at the seminar on a Smart and Intelligent Europe held by the EESC Employers' Group and the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) on 30 August 2019 in Turku, Finland.