The introduction of digitalisation in business is having a momentous impact on the production systems, labour conditions and organisational models of the labour market and the society in general. Quality basic education, high-standard and effective training, lifelong learning, up- and re-skilling for all will be the necessary tools for grasping the job opportunities of the future and fostering enterprise competitiveness. In this context, it is important to keep a human-centred approach and to find ways to accompany vulnerable people who will not be able to respond to the growing demands of the new technological era.
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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.
The EESC agrees with the Commission's objectives regarding the harmonisation of legal systems and the interpretation of the 2004 intellectual property rights enforcement directive (IPRED).
With this amended proposal, the Commission proposes to extend the scope of the proposal for a Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods to cover also face-to-face sales.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's proposals in principle as a balanced compromise between the objectives of climate-neutral mobility, the innovation capacity of the European automotive industry and preserving quality jobs. In particular, the EESC considers the planned interim target for 2025 of a 15% reduction in emissions compared to 2021 to be very demanding as the required changes are to be made to combustion engines at the cutting edge of technology. Despite this, the EESC views the market development towards zero-emission vehicles and low-emissions vehicles and hybrids as an opportunity. Furthermore the EESC calls for a mid-term review for 2024 to include the state of play regarding the qualification and (re)training of staff as well as an updated analysis of the areas in which (additional) action is required.
The EESC has played an important role in raising awareness of EU trade policy among civil society both in the EU and in third countries. The EESC encourages the Commission to strengthen its dialogue with civil society to develop the functioning of TSD chapters in current and future trade agreements. However, the EESC urges the Commission to be more ambitious in its approach, in particular with respect to strengthening effective enforceability of the commitments in TSD chapters, which is of crucial importance to the EESC. TSD chapters must be given equal weight to those covering commercial, technical or tariff issues.
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.
The EESC notes that although economic recovery in the euro area has gathered pace since last year, it remains incomplete and atypical. It disagrees with the European Commission's proposal for an overall broadly neutral fiscal stance and instead proposes a positive fiscal stance of around 0.5% of GDP. It welcomes structural reforms that will not only increase productivity and growth potential, but also support the creation of quality jobs and reduce inequality. It supports the necessary steps for deepening the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as well as the measures against tax fraud and tax avoidance.
The EESC welcomes and supports the European Commission's decision to tackle the problem of intermediaries enabling aggressive tax planning. The Committee notes that the related administrative costs must be reduced to the furthest extent possible for all sizes of businesses and stresses that the taxpayer carries the ultimate responsibility to comply with the proposed directive.
The Bulgarian Presidency invited the EESC to draw up an exploratory opinion aimed at identifying a global approach to EU industrial policy that takes into account the need to improve the business environment and to support the competitiveness of industry.