The EESC supports the intention of the Dutch Presidency of the Council to address poverty through integrated approaches and through cooperation between public and private stakeholders. However, to do so, Member States must be supported by a common European framework and best-practice actors by national anti-poverty strategies. The EU Council should reiterate the commitment made to meet Europe's poverty target by 2020.
Opinions in the spotlight
The Committee welcomes the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It regards the adoption of this agenda together with the Paris COP 21 agreement on climate change as a big breakthrough in setting a global course of action to end poverty, promote prosperity for all and protect the planet's natural resources in an integrated way. The Dutch Presidency of the Council requested that the Committee draw up an exploratory opinion on how a mechanism for civil society involvement at EU level in the implementation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals could be practically set up.
The Committee recommends the creation of a European Sustainable Development Forum in partnership with the Commission and representatives from civil society as a platform involving a broad range of civil society organisations and stakeholders in setting the framework for the implementation of this agenda in the EU, and its ongoing monitoring and review.
"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 believes that the fight against terrorism and its financing and efforts to combat money laundering and other related forms of economic crime should be permanent EU policy priorities. These efforts should be linked more closely with the efforts needed to combat tax fraud and tax avoidance. Therefore, the EESC considers creating public national registers of the beneficial owners of bank accounts, businesses, trusts and transactions, and access to them by obliged entities, to be a priority. Furthermore, all obligations laid down in the Anti Money Laundering Directive should be extended to all territories or jurisdictions whose sovereignty resides with the Member States. And free trade and economic partnership agreements should include a chapter on measures to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing, tax fraud and tax avoidance.
The EESC welcomes the "clean energy" package, which aims to accelerate, transform and consolidate the EU economy's clean energy transition, while pursuing the important goals of economic growth and job creation. The proposed package includes important proposals in the areas of renewable energies and electricity market design and regulation, energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings, energy innovations, transport, and governance – and the Committee views many of the initiatives favourably. However, the opinion – drawing on nine other opinions concerned with the individual proposals of the clean energy package – also identifies a number of challenges that civil society and co-legislators need to be aware of.
A number of topical industrial developments and trends are currently at the focus of attention. At the same time it should be recognised that people must live everywhere in Europe, including in many regions that these innovative trends are not likely to reach even in the next 50 years. Without undermining their importance and while supporting the political efforts promoting these trends, it is necessary to recall that these businesses are the key element in the creation of new activity and value in resource-constrained areas and are crucial to enhancing economic prosperity and cohesion across Europe. Against this background, the main objective of the opinion is to identify and analyse the particular challenges these businesses face and find solutions and possibilities to support them.
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. Europeans need more (and better) Europe, not less Europe, in order to overcome the political crisis in the EU. The basic principle of the EU budget must be to deliver European added value, achieving better outcomes than would be possible for uncoordinated national budgets acting individually. The EESC considers that it is not credible for the EU budget to continue to be less than 1% of EU-GNI.
Illegal online content is a complex and cross-cutting issue that needs to be tackled from a range of perspectives, both in terms of assessing its impact and harmonising the way it is dealt with in the legal framework of the Member States.
The EESC endorses this initiative for a EuroHPC Joint Undertaking as a concrete step in line with the European cloud strategy as well as part of a wider EU strategy (which includes Cybersecurity, the Digital Single Market, the European Gigabit Society, Open Science, etc.). This initiative brings clear EU added value with a key technology which will help to tackle the most challenging issues of our modern society and will ultimately be beneficial for our well-being, competitiveness and jobs.
The EESC believes that an agreement of this nature will only be possible if it is balanced, beneficial to both parties in the medium and long-term and does not sacrifice any particular sector (such as farming or industry), region or country. Under no circumstances can the AA be based on a poor deal...