The EU acknowledges the increasing importance of including the EU and partner countries' companies in the GSCs. It is also emphasised that the current interdependence of the economies may further increase due to the recently negotiated and implemented EU trade and investment agreements, as well as negotiations at the WTO. The EESC also recommends cooperation between international organisations and other relevant stakeholders. This would include adopting a common language and common definitions of elements related to global value chains, GSCs and decent work, and comparison and assessment of the statistical data between the various stakeholders, such as the OECD, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), WTO, the European Commission, the World Bank and IFM. This should help avoid confusion and misinterpretation, and support elaboration of a coherent policy between diverse public bodies involved.
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Opinions in the spotlight
An efficient reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is essential. While the EESC approves of the proposal to improve and speed up the determination of Member State responsible for examining an asylum application, it calls for including protective provisions on procedural issues, individual treatment of applications, maintenance of discretionary clauses, maintenance of the deadline for the cessation of obligation for a Member State to assume responsibility and the rights of applicants.
In its evaluation of the implementation of EU directives on legal migration from the perspective of organised civil society in selected Member States, the EESC considers the impact of these directives to be generally positive, albeit partial and fragmented. It also notes the impact of irregular migration on the directives' applicability.
The EESC provides a series of recommendations, covering the design of wider legal channels for labour migration; the role of the social partners and other organisations in this field; a simplified implementation of the directives and the modification of some of them; fact-based discourse to better inform the general public, integration and the fight against discrimination.
The EESC endorses the aims of the Commission proposals in the area of the CCCTB and recommends the greatest efforts be made to pursue the CCCTB by consensus. The Committee recognizes that the Commission relaunched the CCCTB proposal both with the objective to aid the single market and to combat aggressive tax planning, attributing income where the value is created.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) endorses the priorities set out in the European Commission's 2017 Annual Growth Survey.
The European Semester is seen as a good instrument for further progress in policies and reform, leading to recovery and employment. The AGS 2017 outlines the most pressing economic and social priorities, accompanied by specific recommendations, however the EESC takes very seriously the negative aspects of the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact and Country-Specific Recommendations applied at national level to set the euro area fiscal stance.
The Committee recommends that future crises in the European Union should be managed by striving for a better balance between fiscal and social objectives and urges the Commission to design "supplementary economic and social recovery" programmes, to be applied at the same time as or at the end of an adjustment programme. The EESC recommends that in any future crises situation, the EU Institutions should be solely responsible for developing and implementing the adjustment programmes and stresses that social partners and representatives of civil society must be included in the programme's monitoring and assessment panel, on an equal footing with representatives of the EU, the ECB and other bodies.
The European maritime technology industry is an important sector in terms of employment, directly providing more than 500 000 jobs. Shipyards and firms manufacturing marine equipment make a significant contribution to the economic development of the regions where they are located, and across the entire supply chain, which is particularly important to SMEs. Each direct job in a European shipyard means, on average, seven jobs created in the region.
The EESC appreciates the proposed roadmap for completing the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) but its support is not full and enthusiastic, since a number of social, political and economic issues, highlighted in our previous opinions, were not taken into consideration. The completion of the EMU requires first of all strong political commitment, efficient governance and better use of the available finances, in order to actually cope with both risk reduction and risk sharing among Member States. For these reasons the EESC underlines that the principles of responsibility and solidarity at EU level should go hand in hand.
The EESC supports the Commission's Fin Tech Action Plan and considers that the development of FinTech can deliver a number of benefits to both European businesses and their clients. Measures included in the action plan on improving cyber security and the resilience of the financial sector are important, but should be supplemented by rules to ensure uniformity in the development of FinTech in the EU. Similarly, the Committee believes that the level of regulation for FinTech should be equivalent to that in the financial sector.
The EESC calls on the Commission to identify possible rules for companies offering cloud services with regard to their responsibility for securing the data they host.
The EESC believes that AI and automation processes have enormous potential to improve European society in terms of innovation and positive transformation, but they also pose significant challenges, risks and concerns.