Combating all forms of discrimination is one of the aims of the EU, as enshrined in the Treaties. Yet, Member States have never agreed on the Directive proposed by the European Commission in 2008, which would have extended the existing EU protection against discrimination to all policy areas. Such a situation has created an "artificial hierarchy of protected grounds" whereby areas such as sex, and racial or ethnic origin, enjoy wider protection than other grounds like religion or belief, age, disability and sexual orientation. This Own-Initiative Opinion seeks to address this situation, by recalling the need to adopt a comprehensive directive, but by proposing complementary actions notably based on the recognition of the general principle of equality.
Stručna skupina za zapošljavanje, socijalna pitanja i građanstvo (SOC) - Related Opinions
Rare diseases are often chronic and sometimes disabling diseases affecting an estimated 25/30 million European citizens. Even more people are affected as care taker or family. Patients and relatives face difficulties in access to diagnosis, treatment or care and in their inclusion to society and labour market. In this opinion, the EESC presents its recommendations on how to improve social protection for these patients and raise awareness on their situation and needs.
The role of family members caring for people with disabilities and older persons: the explosion of the phenomenon during the pandemic
This opinion draws attention to the needs of family members taking care of older, chronic ill or disabled relatives. Informal carers, as they are called, represented by a majority of women, work for free, and are more vulnerable to falling into poverty. The opinion calls for public policies in this field and a recognition of their important societal role.
The EESC believes that ensuring equal access to energy and the security of energy supply at affordable cost must be an absolute priority for the European Union (EU) and its Member States. It calls for the establishment of a broad and ambitious political coalition to analyse and address energy poverty from a holistic approach with the objective of bringing it to a minimum level by 2030 and eliminating it altogether in the long term. The actions of the coalition should be further developed in an EU Strategy against energy poverty. The EESC urges the EU to promote a common approach to energy poverty that will allow for a tangible and shared understanding of energy poverty and the collection of statistical data, taking into account Member States' differences and particularities.
This opinion presents the EESC's contribution to the current discussion on the future of care and health across Europe and to the European Care Strategy. The Committee recommends setting common minimum standards to ensure that every one living in the EU has access to affordable, accessible and high-quality care, that there is proper investment in the care services and in health, that the health sector, care providers and health workers are properly recognised and valued, including through investment in skills, decent working conditions, and the creation of quality jobs.
The EESC points at the need to improve youth participation, tackling in particular the lack of youth democratic representation and the lack of a youth perspective outside of the traditional youth policy domain. The EU Youth Test should not substitute meaningful engagement with young people in general and should complement existing participatory mechanisms. It should be part of the Better Regulation Toolbox as a separate tool, since future generations and young people deserve specific attention. The EESC encourages the EU institutions and Member States to implement measures and mechanisms that ensure that the youth perspective is taken into account in every policy field. Suitable resources should be made available for meaningful youth participation in policy-making.
The EESC considers that the proposed guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States are appropriate as they address the most urgent issues in the labour market. In current turbulent times, steps must be taken to strengthen both the role of the social partners and their involvement in designing and implementing employment, social and economic reforms and policies, including by building their capacity. As labour shortages are on the rise again, effective measures should be implemented in order to encourage the social partners to work on skills needs at national level, with action adapted to individual sectors and local situations. With fast technological change and the twin transition, the "lifespan" of previously acquired skills and competencies is getting ever shorter and lifelong acquisition of relevant skills and competencies is increasingly important for both workers and businesses. Labour mobility within the EU and legal labour migration should be encouraged.
This opinion presents the EESC's contribution to the European Commission's strategy to promote decent work not only within the EU but throughout the world. Decent work is unfortunately beyond reach for millions of workers across the globe. The Committee welcomes the Commission's initiative to promote decent work in all sectors and fields on the local and national level, within the EU and beyond. The EESC underlines that the EU must use all its policies, both internal and external, to promote and ensure decent work worldwide.
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