This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament with a view to a forthcoming Commission initiative on fair minimum wages. The question of Decent minimum wages across Europe is a complex and sensitive issue. It is important that any EU action is based on accurate analysis and understanding of the situation and sensitivities in the Member States and fully respects the social partners' role and autonomy, as well as the different industrial relations models.
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.
The EESC recommends that the Commission encourage all decision-making authorities to: create the conditions for access to energy for all, reduce energy poverty, and gather qualitative and gender-specific data with appropriate indicators; strengthen and enforce existing legislation; provide for a targeted policy on gender equality in the energy sector.
The health, economic and social crisis of COVID-19 has intensified the severity of the affordable housing crisis that Member States have been facing for years, particularly for homeless people, overcrowded households, residents of working class neighbourhoods and seasonal workers and immigrants – victims of housing conditions that have directly affected the infection rate in society. Although housing policy remains the competence of the Member States, the shortage of decent and affordable housing in the European Union requires a European action plan on housing that includes a comprehensive set of measures, which are easy for people to understand, to help Member States, regions and cities in Europe to sustainably boost the supply of social and affordable housing and effectively combat homelessness.
The EESC, through its consultation and platform can offer an expert, objective view that identifies key priorities for future rural policy, thereby considering in particular the needs of the vulnerable regions. Rural-proofing needs to be reinvigorated alongside specific rural policies while transgenerational and smart community measures need to be mainstreamed.
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.
The European Commission has put the social economy at the top of the agenda for 2020. The aim of the opinion is to emphasise the importance of the common good as a key European value, including in the area of economic activity, and to highlight the high level of innovation of social economy enterprises committed to the common good, with a focus on the provision of social services.
The EESC proposes launching a European pact to effectively combat tax fraud, evasion and avoidance and money laundering. The Committee calls on the European Commission to promote a political initiative involving national governments and the other European institutions in achieving this goal, fostering the consensus needed for this and involving civil society. Cooperation between Member States should be the main pillar of the pact. The Committee urges the European institutions and the Member States to provide the financial and human resources required for the effective implementation of existing European legislation and to agree on a commitment to adopt all necessary new legislative and administrative measures to effectively combat tax offences and bad practices, money laundering and the activities of tax havens. This requires permanent evaluation of the outcome of implementing each measure.