"An open economy and open society are key enablers of European prosperity, wellbeing and way of life" states the Helsinki Declaration on Open Europe. The declaration was signed by the EESC Employers' Group, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and Finland Chamber of Commerce during the conference "An open Europe – How does it benefit us all?" on 9 October in Helsinki, Finland.
International trade is governed by a complex mixture of global rules agreed under World Trade Organization and bilateral and multilateral agreements. The free trade agreements are having a growing impact on citizens' rights. Under the Lisbon Treaty, EU trade policy must be conducted within the framework of the principles and objectives of the Union’s external action, including promotion of the rule of law, human rights and sustainable development.
We believe that this trend should be a guiding principle in EU trade negotiations and in trade relations. The fact that we at the EESC reconcile the positions and views of business, workers, professionals, farmers, consumers and other important stakeholders contributes real added value. We are in a position to efficiently relay the opinions of civil society and interest groups to international policy-makers both during negotiations and in the implementation of trade agreements. We have set up a Follow-up Committee on International trade to ensure that civil society has a say in the shaping of EU trade policy. We are also managing the Domestic Advisory groups set up under the trade and sustainable development chapters of the EU "new generation" trade agreements. These groups, composed of civil society representatives (from inside and outside the EESC) are responsible for identifying trade and sustainable development-related problems in the implementation of a trade agreement.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted at its March plenary session an opinion on the Joint Communication "Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy", issued by the European Commission and the EU High Representative in September 2018. The EESC considers it to be a seriously missed opportunity, with many significant strategic gaps, little ambition and no real depth of vision offered as to the development of EU's relationship and connectivity with Asia.
An effective solution for taxation of businesses in the digitalised economy should be found at the global level, to prevent further unilateral action and to ensure sustainable growth, investment, tax certainty and fairness, international tax experts and civil society representatives stated at a hearing held by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 29 January.
One year after the provisional entry into force of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), most small and medium-sized enterprises are doing well out of it. At a round table at the EESC on 4 October 2018, on the opportunities CETA gives small and medium-sized enterprises – "Opportunities arising from CETA for SMEs" – participants identified a number of initiatives companies could still take advantage of to ensure that all SMEs can benefit from the CETA. Although the agreement has been successful overall, there are some concerns about its implementation in certain sectors – such as dairy – and its ratification.
The Committee calls for a fair, consensus-based international solution at the OECD level which contributes to achieving fair taxation principles and fair revenues for small and large countries alike
The Section for External Relations of the European Economic and Social Committee discuss how to involve civil society with the EU Member States when ratifying trade agreements
Particular attention should be given to investment in sensitive areas such as infrastructure and key facilities, says the EESC
Brexit, the next EU budget and the future of the single market are the core interests of the European employers' organisations. On 14 March 2018, representatives of BusinessEurope, EuroChambres and CEEP presented the priorities of their organisations for 2018 and discussed the issues with the members of the employers' group.
The condition of the European economy, completing the Single Market, trade and Brexit – these are the top issues for European employers' organisations in the forthcoming months. On 29 March 2017, the Directors-General and Secretaries-General of BusinessEurope, EuroCommerce and Copa-Cogega presented their priorities and debated with the members of the EESC Employers' Group.