On 5 February 2020, the European Commission published its Communication Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans, proposing a new methodology for candidate countries of the Western Balkans with the objective to render the accession process more coherent, respond to concerns of certain Member States expressed in October 2019 and enable the enlargement process to continue.
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The EESC asks the Commission to strictly monitor progress in the deployment and real use of 5G and calls on the Member States to further accelerate the process and ensure a responsible implementation.
In particular, the EESC believes it is vital to assess the risk profile of suppliers and apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high risk. In addition, the EESC reiterates its suggestion of having at least two suppliers for each country, at least one of which is European, in order to ensure political security of data and respect for heath requirements.
The EESC recommends that European technological diplomacy be strengthened to enable the EU to ensure more balanced, reciprocal conditions for trade and investment, in particular as regards market access, subsidies, public procurement, technology transfers, industrial property and social and environmental standards.
In this opinion, the EESC notes that platforms have "a generally positive impact on the economy", contributing as much to job creation and innovation, flexibility and autonomy for workers, as to ensuring income for workers (often supplementary) and allowing vulnerable people to access employment. It also notes that there are risks that must not be underestimated: (i) for workers, the denial of basic rights, including the rights to organisation and collective bargaining; precariousness; low pay; the increasing intensity of work; the extreme fragmentation of work on a global scale; the non-affiliation of workers to social security schemes; and (ii) for society, the increased risk of competition based on undercutting social standards.
The EESC affirms that it is time for the European Commission to propose legislation on mandatory due diligence that acknowledges responsibility based on current standards and offers a clear and secure legal framework for European businesses. It must be ensured that victims of business-related Human Rights infringements have guaranteed access to fair proceedings, courts and authorities.
Global supply chains (GSC) are key and complex in economic activities across the world and in global trade. Economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship are also contested by evidence of negative implications for working conditions as well as for sustainability in some supply chains.
The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled the serious downfalls related to highly fragmented and undiversified supply chains. It exposed the vulnerability of workers' health and safety, and it highlighted violations of human rights. Trade will have to play a key role in promoting a sustainable economic recovery. However, stronger instruments need to deliver on a socially and environmentally responsible business, trade and investment agenda.
GSC need to become more resilient, diversified and responsible, and ambitious actions need to ensure they contribute to a fairer economic and social model, based on sustainability and decent work.