The EESC welcomes the fact that principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights reaffirms the right to access essential services/SGEIs. These are a vital component of social justice and are underpinned by the principle of equal treatment of users, prohibiting any kind of discrimination or exclusion whatsoever, and by the principle of universal access to services of a high level of affordability and quality.
Opinions with Workers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
The EESC notes that the international role of the euro has not yet recovered to the pre-financial crisis level. Whereas the European Commission's proposed measures are welcome and deemed necessary by the EESC, they may not go far enough given the extent of the euro area's social and economic challenges. Social cohesion, economic upward convergence and the promotion of competitiveness and innovation should be the basis on which the euro area's economy gathers pace and supports a stronger international role for the euro.
According to Eurostat forecasts (2015), over the coming decades, Europe’s population will grow slowly from 507 million people in 2013 to 526 million in 2035. This will be accompanied by substantial ageing: the section of the population aged 65+ should increase from 18% to 28%. And by 2060 the 65+ age group will number 149 million.
The objective of the opinion, requested by the Romanian Presidency, is to explore which measures and initiatives should be taken at EU and national level in order to promote organised philanthropy and eliminate barriers within the internal market that are hindering the realisation of its full potential, so as to maximize its contribution to EU values, such as cohesion, social justice and European Policies, and to the competitiveness of the European economy.
The opinion is expected to feed into the Romanian presidency programme and into the political priorities for the new Commission.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's strong message on reinforcing the Single Market and the need for commitment from all Member States and citizens. The EESC calls for a Single Market that must be perceived as an opportunity to reassert European values, fundamental rights and duties to achieve progress and welfare for all Member States and citizens. Values like liberty, economic growth, democracy, peace, science and innovation, political stability, consumers and social rights must be present in citizens' mindset as a result of a process that started 60 years ago.
Endocrine disruptors (EDCs) are chemical substances that alter the functioning of the hormonal system and, as a consequence, negatively affect the health of humans and animals. With this Communication, the Commission is updating its approach on EDCs for the years to come, building on the increased knowledge, experience gained and results achieved in the twenty years since the adoption of the Community Strategy on endocrine disruptors.
The opinion, requested by the Romanian Presidency, aims to look at possible ways through which people can acquire solid knowledge about the European Union, its foundations, procedures and actions, as well as its positive achievements and the concrete benefits it offers. This type of education would contribute towards building citizens' ownership over the European decision-making process and ensure that their vision, needs and priorities are adequately reflected in the European agenda at all levels.
The EESC takes careful note of the initiative's definition of disinformation as verifiably false or misleading information that is a threat to democracy and does public harm. Spreading disinformation has become a part of a hybrid war with a clear political aim. However, it also emphasises that, in addition to false information, highly selective information, defamation, scare-mongering and inciting hatred attack citizens' fundamental rights (freedoms) and minority rights.
Multiple actions from all stakeholders are needed to provide quality information and raise awareness. To this end, the EESC welcomes the initiative for coordinated action to protect the EU, its institutions and its citizens against disinformation. The EESC emphasises the urgency of such measures but is also concerned, however, that the impact of this action plan might be limited given that the May 2019 European elections are not far off.
A European standardisation system that functions well contributes to overall economic growth, supports innovation and global competitiveness of the European industry. It also helps to ensure that the levels of safety, health and consumer and environmental protection set out in Union legislation are met in practice. It also facilitates market access while contributing to a continuous deepening of the Single Market and providing the necessary legal certainty.
The EESC supports the Commission's steps to ensure basic international HVG freight transport connectivity on a temporary basis between the Union and the United Kingdom.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the proposal for a regulation under examination grants UK road haulage operators the right, until 31/12/2019, to move freely within Union territory, in compliance with the common EU rules on access to the international haulage market, and provided that Union carriers can also move freely on UK territory under fair, equal and non-discriminatory conditions of competition.