The EESC believes that the current framework for international ocean governance is unable to ensure the sustainable management of oceans and their resources, and urgent action is imperative. However, the Commission and the High Representative still need to prioritise the threats currently faced by our oceans in order to adequately reflect the urgent need for action. One of the causes of ineffective international ocean governance is the existence of gaps in the current international ocean governance framework. The EESC recommends that the Commission and High Representative address these gaps and inconsistencies, but also that they increase compliance with existing rules, for example by improving the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The EU should refrain from proposing any new legislation when better or more coordinated implementation of existing rules and regulations would be more efficient.
Sviluppo sostenibile - Related Opinions
The EESC endorses the European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility (the strategy), including its aims and methods, and its holistic approach, which provides coherence between transport and other policy areas. It would have liked this approach to be further developed in terms of the links between the strategy and the communication on the upgrading of the internal market. This also applies with regard to the prospects of the digital economy and the development of a sharing economy and a circular economy. It underscores the potential effects of these developments on transport patterns, and draws attention to their social implications.
The 2030 Agenda, the new global framework for sustainable development agreed by the UN in 2015, needs to be reflected in EU's development policy, the major orientations of which are set out in the 2005 European Consensus on Development ("the Consensus").
To this end, the Commission issued Communication COM(2016) 740, "Proposal for a New European Consensus on Development: Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future" in November 2016. Interinstitutional negotiations are expected to result in its endorsement in the form of a Joint Statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, in May 2017.
"Nudges" are small, cheap, easily implemented solutions drawing from behavioural sciences to help people modify their individual behaviours. They consist in inducing towards the most reasonable or responsible option, without forbidding anything, through soft cognitive signals in a wide range of fields, including sustainability. This opinion looks at how to encourage nudging approaches at the European level.
The EESC welcomes and supports the Commission's initiative to anticipate the review of the Regulations on European venture capital funds (EuVECA) and European social entrepreneurship funds (EuSEF). The EESC believes that such a regulation can promote the establishment of a capital markets union. The EESC suggests that in order to expand participation in such investment funds, the hitherto very restrictive access criteria, as well as other restrictive conditions, to be significantly relaxed; the Committee proposes to increase the involvement of non-institutional investors and considers it equally important to create an environment in which the financing objectives of social investment funds can develop.
The Committee considers transparency essential as it is important for all parties, for the companies themselves, and for improving their image and boosting the trust of workers, consumers and investors. While the EESC recognises that most companies operating in the EU are indeed transparent and that investors and shareholders are increasingly paying attention to qualitative corporate social responsibility (CSR) indicators, it is important to focus simultaneously on both the effectiveness and scope of the information being filed and on its quality and veracity. The EESC believes that any further initiative on disclosure of information should include a common set of indicators and at the same time should take into consideration the nature of the company and the sector in which it is operating.
The 2030 Agenda represents a breakthrough in multilateral cooperation, in the sense that it puts social and human development on a par with economic progress, and sees these three dimensions as a whole. Whereas the MDGs (Millennium Development goals) addressed primarily developing countries, this new Agenda is a transformational and universal agenda for all countries, and promotes a new, inclusive and participatory method of decision-making. The EU showed significant leadership in the process leading up to the adoption of the new SDGs (Sustainable Development Goasl). The opinion stresses that the EU needs to hold up its credibility both internally and externally, when it comes to implementing the Agenda and its 17 goals. Pointing to the universal and indivisible nature of the Agenda, the opinion underlines the importance of an EU response at the highest level, providing a robust base on which an overarching EU strategy should be founded.
The EESC has played an important role in strengthening an informed civil society debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through a number of TTIP-related opinions, adopted in 2014 and 2015, covering issues such as labour rights, investment protection, impact on SMEs, among others.
It is important under the present circumstances that the EESC, in order to maintain its position as a key civil society player in the TTIP debate, react to the textual proposals for TTIP negotiations on essential topics such as the sustainable development chapter, regulatory cooperation, investment and services. This will have the advantage not only of setting up the EESC position on major negotiating chapters but also of presenting concrete recommendations and pointing out the need to involve civil society in the implementation of those chapters.
In September 2015 world leaders adopted the UN agenda Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, establishing a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, ensure protection of human rights and guarantee prosperity for all. As an initial step the Commission is carrying out an internal "mapping" exercise in order to identify which existing EU policies already address the challenges set by the SDGs. The Commission has asked the Committee to contribute to that process with the present exploratory opinion.