This opinion will assess the chances and challenges that SMEs face due to the green transition and will call the EU and the Member States to provide them with a favourable business environment, proper funding and support measures.
Opinions with Employers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
The Leipzig charter as a strategic part of Urban policy in Europe has recently been modified by the Ljubljana agreement that the Commission adopted on 26 November 2021. It signals the start of a new phase of the Urban Agenda for the EU.
In this context, the forthcoming Czech EU Presidency, asks the contribution of the EESC to explore how these changes could impact on the creation of new Thematic Partnerships. Amongst others the Czech presidency is putting forward the following questions:
What should be put into consideration while implementing the new theme of urban communities and the involvement of citizens?
What should be the thresholds to create a functioning mechanism for strengthening the position of citizens and groups of citizens to achieve the targeted cooperative partnerships.
The EESC considers that it is necessary to add new own resources to cover the debt repayment resulting from borrowing under the NextGenerationEU initiative without jeopardising the budgets of other EU programmes and instruments, or substantially increasing the Gross National Income (GNI)-based resource contribution. Although the Commission proposals as set out in the communication are deemed necessary, EESC believes that the Commission should ensure that the design of the new system is based on achieving equity and fairness, efficiency, transparency, simplicity and stability, with a focus on competitiveness and applying solidarity where necessary.
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.
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.
European Union statistics clearly show the enormous amounts of packaging materials currently used for the safety, hygiene, transportation, conservation, presentation and application of all kinds of goods – be they for industrial purposes, construction work, communication systems or individual consumption. Most of them are of carbonic or metallic origin, which are limited resources. A largely predominant part of the waste of these packaging materials can, and mostly do, have a negative environmental impact and may seriously endanger human health as well as animal and plant well-being. Material transformation and recycling for the reuse of the basic substances can only very partially reduce the many problems connected.
The Communication on 8th Report presents the main changes in territorial disparities over the past decade and how policies have affected these disparities. It highlights the potential of the green and digital transitions as new drivers of EU growth, but argues that without appropriate policy action new economic, social and territorial disparities may appear. It also launches a reflection on how cohesion policy should evolve to respond to these challenges and in particular how to ensure that place-based, multilevel and partnership led approaches continue to improve cohesion, while building on synergies and mainstreaming cohesion objectives into other policies and instruments.
EESC will present its views on this report stressing the important role that civil society plays and that local policies need local strategies, drawn up with local partners.