The Commission's initiative follows one of the recommendations of the Agricultural Markets Task Force that the EU should legislate in the areas of UTPs for agricultural products, and responds to some of the conclusions of the 2016 EESC opinion on "A fairer food supply chain".
Opinions with Workers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
A variety of tools and methods are currently used to undermine European values and external actions of the EU, as well as to develop and provoke separatist and nationalistic attitudes, manipulate the public and conduct direct interference in the domestic policy of sovereign countries and the EU as a whole. Moreover, the growing influence of cyber offensive capabilities and increased weaponization of technologies to achieve political goals is observed. The impact of such actions is often underestimated.
The EESC agrees with the Commission's call for more responsibility on the part of social media platforms. However, despite the existence of several studies and policy papers produced by European specialists in the last few years, the Commission's communication lacks any practical mandatory steps to ensure this.
The EESC flags up the potential of AI and would like to give its input to efforts to lay the groundwork for the social transformations which will go hand in hand with the rise of AI and robotics.
The EESC agrees with the vision outlined in the communication. It believes that in the course of the changes generated by digital transformation, people must be at the center of care. The digitalisation processes must help healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients. It must be ensured that healthcare professions are appropriately staffed with qualified personnel and equipped with appropriate digital skills. Digital tools must be a lever to develop new forms of organisation in health and care systems.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's approach to leave SPC protection intact as regards placing products on the EU market, as well as the market exclusivity of EU SPC holders in the Member States during the full period of SPC protection. Furthermore the EESC deems it to be most important that, on those non-EU markets where protection does not exist or has expired, there be fair competition for EU-based manufacturers who bring generics and biosimilars to these markets. The EESC also supports the Commission's stance on SMEs, since they play an important role in manufacturing generics and developing biosimilars.
The EESC supports the proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. A proper coverage of workers in non-standard forms of work and the self-employed would be in line with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Access to social protection systems is key for fairer societies. The main outcomes would be: increasing the mutualisation of risk, income security, labour market dynamism, higher productivity, better allocation of resources, and reducing insecurity and poverty for individuals.
The EESC regrets that the Commission has not taken this opportunity to anticipate the changes connected to driverless motor vehicles, despite the comments included in the impact assessment accompanying the proposal. The EESC recommends that the Commission set, as regards harmonisation of minimum amounts of cover, a final deadline for completing the implementation of minimum compensation thresholds.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a regulation and considers it to be an important first step towards promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services. The EESC believes that this proposal is particularly important because it constitutes the first attempt to regulate B2B relations in the area of e-commerce, and recommends that it be approved swiftly in order to plug a clear legislative gap.
The Commission is proposing a targeted revision of the General Food Law Regulation coupled with the revision of eight pieces of sectoral legislation, to bring them in line with the general rules and strengthen transparency in the area of GMOs, feed additives, smoke flavourings, food contact materials, food additives, food enzymes and flavourings, plant protection products and novel foods.
Europeans need more (and better) Europe. The powers and financial resources currently allocated to the EU have been increasingly misaligned with the concerns and expectations of Europeans. The EESC, in accordance with the European Parliament's position, therefore proposes that the expenditure and revenue figure reach 1.3% of GNI. The proposed level of commitments of 1.11% of the EU's GNI is too modest to credibly deliver on the political agenda of the EU.
The EESC recognises the high European added value of the programmes where the MFF 2021-2027 concentrates the main increases in expenditure. However, the Committee questions the fact that these increases are made at the cost of strong cuts in cohesion policy (-10%) and the Common Agricultural Policy – CAP (-15%).