EESC September plenary tackles minimum wages in Europe

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Highlights of the European Economic and Social Committee's September plenary:

17 September, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm As the current term of office comes to an end this September, EESC President Luca Jahier and Vice-Presidents Isabel Caño Aguilar and Milena Angelova discuss with members the milestones and achievements of their time in office. With the participation of European Parliament Vice-President Klara Dobrev and writer and journalist Giuliano da Empoli, founding chairman of Volta think tank. Videomessages from top EU leaders.

  • Jacques Delors building – 16 September, 2:30 pm to 18 September, 7:30 pm
  • Watch the plenary session here
  • The agenda is available here

Key opinions to be put to the vote:

Social

  • Decent minimum wages across Europe (SOC/632, rapporteur: Stefano Mallia - Employers, MT, and Oliver Röpke - Workers, AT)

In this opinion, the EESC gives its input to the debate on the need for EU action on minimum wages launched by the Commission. The EESC says the majority of its constituents see such action as necessary to ensure a decent standard of living for all EU workers. The EESC Employers' Group has voiced its opposition, supporting the view that the EU has no competence over pay and that setting minimum wages is a matter for the national level. While recognising the complexity of the issue, the EESC believes that social partners are the best placed actors when it comes to determining wages, and would like to see measures promoting collective bargaining included in the EU action.

  • Fair work in the platform economy (SOC/645, rapporteur: Carlos Manuel Trindade - Workers, PT)

In this opinion, requested by the German EU presidency, the EESC discusses the status of platform workers and policy tools that could improve their working conditions. It argues that platforms, although having a generally positive impact on economy by generating jobs and revenue, can carry risks for workers that must not be underestimated, such as the denial of basic rights, precariousness, low pay and absence of social security coverage. The EESC urges the Commission and Member States to clarify the concept of employers and employees in platform work as it has repercussions for workers' rights. More.

Sustainable development

  • Towards structured youth engagement on climate and sustainability in EU decision-making (NAT/788, rapporteur Cillian LOHAN – Diversity Europe, IE)

The EESC will endeavour to amplify the voices of young people it climate and sustainable development policy making and implementation through strong and meaningful youth engagement at all stages of EU decision-making, from the drafting of legislative proposals and initiatives through to implementation, monitoring and follow-up. More

  • 2030 biodiversity strategy (NAT/786, rapporteur Antonello PEZZINI - Employers, IT, co-rapporteur Lutz RIBBE – Diversity Europe, DE)

The EESC considers it necessary to increase the size of protected areas, limiting the impact on agriculture and forestry as far as possible. It is urgent to restore habitats and combat species decline caused mainly by poor implementation of the legal framework and insufficient funding for the necessary measures. More

  • From farm to fork (NAT/787, rapporteur: Peter SCHMIDT - Workers, DE, co-rapporteur Jarmila DUBRAVSKÁ – Employers)

A comprehensive EU food policy should deliver economic, environmental and socio-cultural sustainability, integration across sectors and a combination of compulsory measures and incentives to accelerate the transition towards sustainable food systems. According to the EESC, the proposed Commission strategy does not reflect those objectives sufficiently. More

The EU as a global player

  • EU and Africa: Making an equal development partnership a reality based on sustainability and common values (REX/527, rapporteurs: Dimitris DIMITRIADIS - Employers, EL; Dilyana SLAVOVA - Diversity Europe, BG), Thomas WAGNSONNER – Workers, AT)

In this opinion, the EESC advocates promoting a decent life and good prospects in Africa, creating a middle class and supporting equal partnerships by strengthening sustainable social-liberal democratic structures. The EESC highlights that the EU strategy on Africa must focus on development and welcomes the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). More

  • Carbon markets: Emergence, structuring and challenges for European industry (REX/531, rapporteur: Emmanuelle BUTAUD-STUBBS – Employers, FR

The implementation of the Paris Agreement requires from the signatory countries the creation of regulated or free carbon markets in order to accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy. The main questions addressed in the opinion are: what are the components of carbon markets, what are the challenges for the future and, finally, the challenges for EU industry? The opinion is a contribution to the current political debate on the European Green Deal. More

  • Sustainable supply chains and decent work in international trade (REX/532, rapporteur: Tanja BUZEK - Workers, DE)

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. In this opinion, the EESC argues for stronger instruments to deliver on a socially and environmentally responsible business, trade and investment agenda. More

Economics and business

  • Combatting tax fraud, tax avoidance and money laundering (ECO/510, rapporteur Javier DOZ ORRIT - Workers, ES)

The EESC proposes launching a European pact to effectively combat tax fraud, evasion and avoidance and money laundering, a political initiative involving national governments and the other European institutions and civil society, where cooperation between Member States should be the main pillar.

  • An SME strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe (INT/898, rapporteur: Milena Angelova – Employers, BG; co-rapporteur: Dimitris Gkofas - Diversity Europe, EL)

In this opinion, the EESC points to ways in which the EU can help SMEs recover from the COVID-crisis and face the digital future. In the Committee's view, SMEs should be placed at the heart of all of Europe's key political decisions - the Green Deal, the Industrial Strategy, the EU budget and the Recovery Plan for Europe. The EESC also wishes to see a greater role for SME organisations and social partners than is currently envisaged by the Commission in its draft programme. More.

  • Economic governance review 2020 (ECO/506, rapporteur: Judith Vorbach – Workers, AT; co-rapporteur: Tommaso Di Fazio - Diversity Europe, IT)

The EESC welcomes the Commission's review, urging to begin work on a reform to establish a prosperity-focused economic governance where no one is left behind and taking into account that the best way forward is not a "return to normal" but a "turn" to a revised and rebalanced economic governance framework. More.

  • Revision of the European Territorial Agenda and the Leipzig Chapter for the Urban Agenda (ECO/507; rapporteur: Petr Zahradník – Employers, CZ; co-rapporteur: Roman Haken - Diversity Europe, CZ)

The EESC recommends that the new circumstances that have arisen during the operating period of the current Leipzig Charter, including the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, be fully included in the content of the new Charter to ensure that it is functionally compatible with the future EU multiannual financial framework and its links with the European Semester process. More

Energy, technology and mobility

  • The future of EU air transport in and after the Corona crisis (TEN/709, rapporteur: Thomas Kropp – Employers, DE)

The EESC calls upon the Commission to develop a comprehensive road map for the recovery of the entire European aviation, this sector being among the worst affected by the Corona crisis, with dramatic consequences for the revenues of both aircarriers and their employees. More.

  • Between a trans-European super grid and local energy islands (TEN/706, rapporteur: Lutz Ribbe – Diversity Europe, DE; co-rapporteur: Thomas Kattnig – Workers, AT)

 The Committee points out that energy transition is not just a technological issue but also a profoundly social and political challenge. Future energy system will have both centralised and decentralised elements, and its organisation should not be left to chance. The question of how the new energy system will be organised is therefore much more than just a technical question, it is a highly political issue. More.

  • Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond (INT/909, rapporteur: Dimitris Gkofas - Diversity Europe, EL)

Urging the Commission to shape a sustainable model of EU tourism and transport for 2020 and beyond against the backdrop of the COVID 19 crisis, the EESC advocates measures and guidelines to safely restore free movement, ensure a coordinated reopening of internal borders and the lifting of internal border controls. The EESC also asks for an EU strategic plan to help the Member States implement economic and support measures for the tourist sector. More.

Industry

  • Digital Mining in Europe: New solutions for the sustainable production of raw materials (CCMI/176, rapporteur: Marian Krzaklewski – Workers, PL; co-rapporteur: Hilde VAN LAERE – (CCMI Delegate, DE)

The digitalisation of the EU raw materials sector is a unique opportunity to enhance the resilience of European industrial supply chains, improve the environmental performance of the minerals sector and to increase transparency and dialogue with citizens and communities affected by mining activities. More.