Opinions with Diversity Europe - Group III members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
Blockchain technology contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), empowers citizens, boosts entrepreneurship and innovation, improves mobility and cross-border opportunities for businesses while enhancing transparency for consumers. However, several challenges still remain to be addressed, in particular the urgent matter of providing legal clarity and certainty and protecting privacy.
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to how environmental laws could be better supported at EU and national level and suggest ways to enhance the role of civil society in the framework of the EIR process.
The EESC welcomes the initiative of the European Commission (EC) to launch the assessment of the draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) submitted by the Member States, thereby following up on the new governance model launched by the Council and the Parliament in December 2018 and aimed at ensuring the transition to clean energy and climate protection through a multilevel interactive dialogue which fully involves civil society and public and private entities at local and regional level. The EU is the first major global economy to adopt, through specific National Energy and Climate Plans, a legally binding framework to deliver on its 2015 commitments under the COP21 Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda.
The EESC echoes the European Parliament's call to phase out all investor schemes and recommends that until then certain mitigation measures are put in place. Member States should be urged to apply a due diligence process without specific duration restrictions and adapted to the high-risk profile of applicants. A coordination mechanism should allow Member States to exchange information on successful and rejected applications for citizenship and residence permits. All agents and intermediaries providing services to applicants should be subject to anti-money-laundering rules as set out in the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The EU should encourage all agents providing services to applicants to be accredited and subject to a code of conduct. Authorities should maintain primary responsibility for accepting or rejecting applicants. Authorities must also maintain a set of measures to avoid conflicts of interest or bribery risks.
The EESC supports the Commission's aim of ensuring equal treatment, for VAT purposes, for armed forces of Member States working together within an EU framework and NATO armed forces employed in the EU, which already benefit from VAT exemption. The Committee suggests that different national tax authorities should have one system under which the new exemptions are implemented.
The proposed opinion will look at new approaches to more fairly distributing the burden of transformation towards a sustainable Europe.