Through this Opinion, the EESC supports the proposal by the European Commission to extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech. It considers that the criteria set out in Article 83(1) of the TFEU for such an extension (significant developments in the area, a cross-border dimension, the need to act on a common basis) are met. The EESC therefore encourages the Council to adopt the proposed Decision in order to allow the European Commission to set minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and penalties in this area of crime.
Health and social services such as care, helping disadvantaged individuals and those with disabilities to break back into the labour market, childcare and social housing are fundamental when it comes to guaranteeing social cohesion in the ongoing period of post-pandemic recovery, humanitarian crisis and international tensions. European rules on state aid for these services are therefore fundamental.
The EESC welcomes the European Commission's decision to prolong the State aid Temporary Framework stemming from the pandemic. However, these measures are too exceptional for them to be extended to the general framework and therefore become permanent.
The EESC considers that engaging in dialogue with civil society and social partners constitutes an effective way for policy-makers to understand the varying needs of people belonging to different social groups. There can be no room for repression of social dialogue and civil society dialogue in the EU. Consultation processes should also be easy to find and to access. The EESC points at the potential for civil society to assist policy-makers in essential tasks such as monitoring, but that this should be accompanied with funding and technical support to enable CSOs to build capacity.
The EESC highly appreciates the first activation of the Temporary Protection Directive 2001/55/EC in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The current activation of the Directive could well be used to develop solidarity mechanisms among the Member States. It strongly supports an urgent need for effective, genuine, humane – and humanitarian – common European regulations on migration, asylum and security cooperation in an open, but equally secure Schengen area, in full accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The consequences of the war are also a threat for the European model of the social market economy as well as for the freedom and rights of EU citizens and other inhabitants. The EESC encourages preserving and valuing the Schengen area as it is currently constituted, to guarantee not only the free movement of human beings, but also the functioning of the Single Market.
The EESC fully supports the Commission proposal on the misuse of shell companies for tax purposes and its objectives. Ensuring an effective, fair taxation across the single market is crucial to favour a real recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee supports the choice of a Directive aimed at ensuring a common legal framework among Member States. The nature of the subject matter to be regulated and the objectives pursued means that they cannot be handled through single initiatives by Member States in their respective legal systems.