On 5 February 2020, the European Commission published its Communication Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans, proposing a new methodology for candidate countries of the Western Balkans with the objective to render the accession process more coherent, respond to concerns of certain Member States expressed in October 2019 and enable the enlargement process to continue.
Opinions with Employers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
Europe is embarking on a transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership. European businesses can lead the way as we enter this new age, as they has done in the past.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are essential to Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity. Based on the new SME Strategy, the EU will support SMEs by:
- encouraging innovation through new funding and digital innovation hubs as part of the sustainable and digital transitions;
- cutting red tape by reducing barriers within the Single Market and opening up access to finance;
- allowing better access to finance by setting up an SME Initial Public Offering Fund (with investments channelled through a new private-public fund) and the ESCALAR initiative (a mechanism to boost the size of venture capital funds and attract more private investment).
The EESC believes that there are well-founded reasons to establish uniform rules within the EU to combat global warming and based on these to embark on international discussions with other trading blocs. Furthermore, the Committee deems that, in the future, it could be useful and necessary to also devise new taxation measures that can supplement the current emissions trading system and national carbon taxes in order to achieve an effective and symmetrical policy framework to tackle the increasing amount of CO2 emissions.
The EESC welcomes this package of new initiatives in a wide range of areas and advocates a European path to digitalisation by seizing the opportunities for the economy together with the protection of our data to ensure privacy and self-determination.
The opinion will provide guidance on how to build on existing structures like citizens' dialogues and assemblies, social dialogue committees in order to structure and mainstream the dialogue with civil society. It will also make recommendations about how to encourage information sharing and public understanding of climate action; how to create real and virtual spaces for exchange on climate and how to build capacity to facilitate grassroots initiatives, among others.
Disruptions like coronavirus (COVID-19) threaten to bring the world economy and social life to a standstill. Its impacts include recessions in the USA, the EU, Japan and other regions of the world, extremely slow growth in China and huge losses in terms of output. Governments have to offset economic damage with fiscal and monetary policies and cope with the expected changes of the economic paradigm. The EESC stresses the need for efficient business models and trade defence mechanisms, in particular with regard to Asia, and notes that 36 million jobs in the EU depend on the EU's exporting potential, and that the share of EU employment supported by sales of goods and services to the rest of the world in relation to total employment increased from 10.1% in 2000 to 15.3% in 2017. The fiscal, economic and social response to the crisis is necessary for preventing its negative impact on these and other sectors.
EESRK nuomonė: Fostering competitiveness, innovation, growth and job creation by advancing in global regulatory cooperation, by supporting a renewed multilateral trading scheme and by reducing market-distorting subsidies (own-initiative opinion)
The EESC supports the Commission's 'Long-term action plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules' and endorses the Communication on Identifying and tackling barriers to the single market.
The EESC believes that the insufficient or inadequate application of EU rules has been the Achilles heel of EU law and that therefore many instances of fraud and illegal behaviour have not been dealt with. It urges the Commission to include in the action plan a clearly defined role for civil society actors, entrepreneurs, workers and consumers.
The transition to a low-carbon economy is the EU's goal and obligation and the EU committed itself to implement this transition in a socially just and cost-effective manner. It is thus important to examine all the feasible ways of financing climate neutrality, and possibly find new and innovative financing models in the near future.