The euro area needs to step up its external representation. This will strengthen its relative weight in international financial institutions and give it a more prominent position in international financial markets. The EESC endorses the rationale behind the two Commission documents and agrees with the main elements of the three-phase scenario to gain a single euro area chair at the IMF by 2025. At the same time, however, the EESC proposes that the Commission also draft scenarios for making stronger and more effective the links with other relevant international bodies, taking particular account of their remits. The EESC also recommends clearly and explicitly defining the roles of euro area external representation and their dovetailing with those of the EU as a whole, with a view to preserving the integrity of the single market.
Opinions in the spotlight
Alarming political decisions have shown that the EU lacks adequate instruments to safeguard fundamental values and the rule of law. A new European mechanism on the rule of law and fundamental rights is needed. The mechanism should include a regular assessment of Member States in a governance "policy coordination cycle", similar to the European Semester. The EESC should play an active role, as this will make for strong civil society involvement. The mechanism must be based on indicators, taking into account the indivisibility of fundamental economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights.
The EESC encourages the Commission to pursue its efforts to develop policy proposals aimed at promoting the creation of innovative and high growth firms. These policy proposals should strengthen the single market, reinforce the clusters and ecosystems in which innovative start-ups are created, develop the equity component of the European capital markets, encourage an academic agenda focusing on jobs for the future and minimise the cost and red tape involved in starting a new entrepreneurial venture.
The proposal from the Commission is a welcomed step further in the creation of a Digital Single Market, but it's not a game-changer. More ambitious and well-defined proposals for a Digital Single Market in favour of consumers and companies, should be put forward.
Justified geo-blocking resulting from different Member States' industrial policies and diverging legislation is also damaging the development of SMEs and scale-ups operating in Europe. The EU should focus equally on the remaining obstacles in the Single Market that discourage or hamper traders from selling on-line and/or off-line across borders.
- The EESC welcomes the Communication from the Commission confirming the importance of Internet connectivity for the Digital Single Market and the need for Europe to deploy now the networks for its digital future.
- The EESC notes that the Strategic Objectives for 2025 are ambitious but realistic, although they are largely dependent on national funding (private and public). There is a particular need for public investments to cover all remotes areas and guarantee minimum digital access for the vulnerable members of our society.
- The EESC agrees with the proposal to introduce a voucher system for small communities and SMEs and supports the free "WIFI4EU" initiative for all Europeans in public places, public administrations, libraries and hospitals as well as outdoor spaces even. It recommends following eIDAS digital identity, which offers guarantees for data protection and public security against.
The EESC very much welcomes the Commission’s package of proposals and hopes that it will contribute effectively to complementing the work done after the crisis to reform the financial sector. The Committee welcomes the underlying holistic and integrated approach and believes that the proposed measures will undoubtedly help strengthen Europe’s prudential and resolution framework for banks. The Committee also these proposals will enable progress to be made not only in further advancing the Banking Union, but also in implementing its third pillar, the European Deposit Insurance Scheme and that certain specific adjustments in the proposals should facilitate the pursuit of a Capital Markets Union.
The EESC recognises the important role of transport as a driver of the EU economy and supports the European Commission (EC) in its ambitions to ensure that the EU remains in a leading position in clean, competitive and connected mobility in the future.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the EC is taking the initiative to clarify the regulatory framework on road transport and to ensure better enforcement and closer cooperation between Member States.
However, the EESC is of the opinion that the proposed changes to legislation on driving times and rest periods and on the posting of drivers fail to effectively address the identified problems in road transport in several aspects, including not making the rules simpler, clearer and more enforceable.
Social sustainability is achieved through the reaffirmation of the role and value of the European social model, which represents the identity and specificity of our continent and which guarantees high social protection and citizenship rights for all. There is a clear connection between competitiveness, productivity and social sustainability: all stakeholders must commit themselves to promoting inclusive growth and at the same time foster conditions that are favourable for the world of enterprise, with the aim of creating more and better jobs.
In response to the European Commission's communication on "Strengthening Europe's energy networks" (COM(2017)718 final), the European Economic and Social Committee shares the view that a sufficiently interconnected European energy grid is a prerequisite for achieving the aim of the Energy Union: to provide affordable, secure and sustainable energy that makes the energy transition to a low-carbon economy possible in a competitive way; considers that investments in grid infrastructure should be implemented with the same intensity as other energy investments, and in particular in coordination with the expansion of renewables; calls on the Commission and the Member States to draw up two-yearly monitoring reports on the achievement of the renewable development targets and national and transnational network; suggests that actively involving organised civil society in the design phases of the interconnection projects can help to mitigate the lack of public support for some projects; recomm