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.
Opinions in the spotlight
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.
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.
COVID-19 has shown how interconnected the world is. As part of global recovery, the EU wants to redesign how we connect the world to build forward better. The European model is about investing in both hard and soft infrastructure, in sustainable investments in digital, climate and energy, transport, health, education and research, as well as in an enabling environment guaranteeing a level-playing field.
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.
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.