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.
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 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 Commission's decision to create a Digital Single Market (to remove virtual borders, boost digital connectivity, and make it easier for consumers to access cross-border online content) is therefore a welcome move. But what does it mean for SMEs in practice? How will this affect their day-to-day running? And, given the lessons learnt from previous rapid changes, how do we make an "inclusive" success of the Digital Single Market?
The EESC asks the Commission to strictly monitor progress in the deployment and real use of 5G and calls on the Member States to further accelerate the process and ensure a responsible implementation.
In particular, the EESC believes it is vital to assess the risk profile of suppliers and apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high risk. In addition, the EESC reiterates its suggestion of having at least two suppliers for each country, at least one of which is European, in order to ensure political security of data and respect for heath requirements.
The EESC recommends that European technological diplomacy be strengthened to enable the EU to ensure more balanced, reciprocal conditions for trade and investment, in particular as regards market access, subsidies, public procurement, technology transfers, industrial property and social and environmental standards.