Blockchain technology contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), empowers citizens, boosts entrepreneurship and innovation, improves mobility and cross-border opportunities for businesses while enhancing transparency for consumers. However, several challenges still remain to be addressed, in particular the urgent matter of providing legal clarity and certainty and protecting privacy.
Digitalisation is on everyone’s lips, often spoken of as an irresistible force for change. We are told that in its scale, speed and complexity, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. These changes are transforming the nature of work and the individual behaviour of users in Europe without regard for the role and place of the human factor.
AI systems must comply with existing legislation. It is important to identify which challenges can be met by means of codes of ethics, self-regulation and voluntary commitments and which need to be tackled by regulation and legislation supported by oversight and, in the event of non-compliance, penalties.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Regulation, adopted in 2008, sets out its mission and tasks, as well as the framework for its operation. This regulation was amended in 2013 to bring it in line with the Horizon 2020 programme.
For the period 2021-2027, Horizon Europe will be the Union program that will finance the EIT. Since a number of provisions of the EIT Regulation refer directly to the current Horizon 2020 program, these provisions need to be amended to make them compatible with the forthcoming EU Framework Programmes for research and innovation. It is therefore proposed to make the new EIT Regulation temporally neutral, so that it would in principle not be necessary to modify it at the end of each MFF or that the changes would be only minimal. It is proposed to amend it by means of the legislative recasting technique to ensure greater legal clarity and readability.
The EESC welcomes the initiative of the European Commission (EC) to launch the assessment of the draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) submitted by the Member States, thereby following up on the new governance model launched by the Council and the Parliament in December 2018 and aimed at ensuring the transition to clean energy and climate protection through a multilevel interactive dialogue which fully involves civil society and public and private entities at local and regional level. The EU is the first major global economy to adopt, through specific National Energy and Climate Plans, a legally binding framework to deliver on its 2015 commitments under the COP21 Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda.
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to how environmental laws could be better supported at EU and national level and suggest ways to enhance the role of civil society in the framework of the EIR process.