The EESC wishes to draw up an opinion on the revision of the agreement with Mexico, paying special attention to civil society participation in the process, i.e. consultations during the negotiations and monitoring implementation of the new agreement following its entry into force.
Opinions in the spotlight
The EESC opinion on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive was adopted with 180 votes in favour, 84 against and 30 abstentions. A counter opinion on the same subject was put forward and not carried, receiving 94 for, 175 against and 23 abstentions.
In its opinion, the EESC supports in principle the Commission's proposed recast of the Posting of Workers Directive. The principle of equal pay for equal work in the same place is the cornerstone of the pillar of social rights in Europe.
For the EESC it is essential that the Commission take further action to ensure that all e-retailers and consumers, and particularly individuals and SMEs in remote areas, can finally benefit from cross-border parcel delivery services that are accessible, high quality and affordable, fearing that the proposed measures not be enough and do little to encourage the cross-border parcel delivery services concerned to charge reasonable tariffs. Therefore the EESC regrets that the Commission is shelving any more stringent measures until the end of 2018, calling on the Commission to take the same approach it took to roaming charges in mobile communications.
The EESC welcomes the Commission’s Wifi4EU initiative aimed at rolling out free internet access in public places as it will deliver benefits both in terms of accessibility and economic growth. Together with a single digital identity throughout Europe, proposed by the EESC, this would have a considerable impact in terms of strengthening the sense of European citizenship and overcoming digital poverty.
The Committee calls for a high-quality free WiFi service to be deployed and therefore calls on the Commission to establish goals for social as well as technological development.
The EESC considers Wifi4EU to be a strategic project and considers that its EUR 120 million budget is inadequate to cover the needs of the whole of Europe. It calls on the Commission to supplement the public initiative with public-private partnerships.
In its opinion the EESC underlines that the social economy is a key player and helps to achieve the objectives of all European policies with an external dimension: external and security policy, trade policy, neighbourhood policy, climate change policy, development cooperation and sustainable development policy. However, the lack of an appropriate regulatory environment, at both European and national level, prevents this sector from developing its full potential and maximising its impact. The Commission and the Member States must promote the participation, consultation and coordination of their external entrepreneurial and development cooperation activities with the bodies representing the social economy at European and national level, as well as with those of partner countries, and with international social economy organisations with a North-South and South-South dimension.
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to the ongoing reflection on the modernisation and simplification of the CAP post 2020. A reshaped CAP must retain the positive aspects of the current policy and adopt new measures to deal with the new challenges which include societal demands for the delivery of public goods, the EU commitments under the United Nations SDGs, climate change commitments under the COP21, bilateral trade deals and market volatility. A reshaped CAP must also get the correct balance between the needs of the consumer, taxpayers and producers.
This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. The EESC is strongly in favour of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) and finds it absolutely necessary that the CMU becomes a reality in all EU Member States and calls for the political will at European level and in the Member States to make all necessary efforts and to establish all of the relevant conditions required.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a definitive VAT system and calls upon the Member States to cooperate closely for reaching the agreement regarding the new system. The Committee stresses that the quick fixes proposed by the Commission are important as intermediary steps for the functioning of the VAT system and encourages the Member States to adopt the quick fixes for all businesses.