Highlights of the EEESC's 574th Plenary session

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Charlemagne building - 14 Dec, 2.30 to 6.30 pm; 15 Dec 9.30 am to 1 pm

Web streaming   Agenda

The EESC will host the following debates:

  • 15 December, 11.30 am "Young people and the labour market" with Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights.
  • 14 December, 5.00 pm "Investments to promote gender equality: the role of finance and public recovery policies" with Ivailo Kalfin, Eurofound executive director, Kinga Stanislawska, founder of European Women in Venture Capital, and Xenia Kazoli, executive vice-chairwoman of the Hellenic Corporate Governance Council.
  • 14 December, 3.00 pm " The EU's relations with its Southern Neighbourhood" with Álvaro Albacete Perea, deputy secretary-general of the Union for the Mediterranean
  • Josep Ferré, executive director of the Anna Lindh Foundation and MEP Pierfrancesco Majorino, vice-chair of the development committee.

Key reports to be put to the vote:

Gender equality and youth empowerment

  • The Equal Treatment of Young People in the Labour Market (SOC/721, rapporteur Michael MCLOUGHLIN, Civil Society Organisations, IE)
    The report examines a number of practices and rules that treat young people less favourably in the labour market based solely on their age, particularly in relation to minimum wages, social security and health and safety. Studies show that young people are particularly dependent on the minimum wage and may also be disadvantaged by unemployment benefit systems, as they may not have completed the required qualifying period of "paying in" to the system. The EESC believes that the European Youth Strategy needs to pay more attention to these issues, particularly in terms of the discussion on the future of work, skills development and other social issues such as mental health and equality. More.
  • Gender-based investments in national recovery and resilience plans (ECO/584, rapporteur Cinzia DEL RIO - Workers, IT)
    The EESC flags up that most of the national recovery and resilience plans (NRRPs) have been drawn up by the Member States without any prior assessment of the impact of individual investments in terms of removing gender inequalities and making it easier for women to access and stay in the labour market. The opinions suggests ways to bridge this gap in the implementation phase of the NRRPs, from delevoping specific indicators to providing incentives the creation of stable quality jobs for women while excluding such incentives from State aid rules. More.
  • Gender lens investing as a way to improve gender equality in the EU (SOC/723, rapporteur Ody NEISINGH, Civil Society Organisations, NL, co-rapporteur: Maria NIKOLOPOULOU – Workers, ES)
    Progress on effective gender mainstreaming in the EU, particularly with regards to finance and budgets, has been slow. This opinion wants to emphasise the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship, public and private investments and budgeting in terms of gender equality and call for an ambitious vision from the European Institutions and Member States on gender lens investing and gender budgeting. The EESC also finds it important to provide women with more networking and training opportunities and mentoring programmes and stresses the importance of education in challenging gender stereotypes. More.
  • European Year of Skills 2023 (SOC/ 749, rapporteur Tatjana BABRAUSKIENĖ –Workers, LT)
    Education and skills development is key to the social and economic progress of our societies. The EESC is looking forward to engaging positively with the European Year of Skills 2023 and calls on the Commission to engage employers to ensure that all workers have equal access to quality and inclusive training. The EESC also proposes a "skills guarantee" to ensure the right to access quality and inclusive training for all, including paid educational leave, allowing people to participate fully in society and successfully manage transitions. More.


  • Protection from exposure to asbestos at work (SOC/743,  rapporteur Ellen NYGREN – Workers, SE)
    The EESC recommends lowering the technical limit value for asbestos exposure so that it is set at a lower level than the one the Commission is currently proposing. To achieve this, there should be a roadmap of complementary measures over and above the Commission's proposals, including financial support for businesses and regions who would otherwise be unable to meet the set targets. There should be checks for workers suspected of being at risk of asbestos exposure. A broad public information campaign on asbestos and its deadly risks should also be envisaged. More
  • Asset recovery and confiscation (SOC/738, rapporteur Ionuţ SIBIAN - Civil Society Organisations' Group, RO)
    The EESC believes that the Commission's proposed directive could broaden the scope of the confiscation mechanisms, strengthen the competences of national authorities and establish cross-border cooperation mechanisms to increase the rate of asset recovery. The EESC encourages the Commission to clarify and make sure that migrant smuggling and illicit tobacco trade also fall under the scope of the proposed Directive. It is also of the opinion that separate legislation is needed in the area of application of the directive to violations of EU restrictive measures. More

Rule of law, rights and values

  • European Media freedom Act (SOC/742, rapporteur Christian MOOS - Civil Society Organisations, DE; co-rapporteur Tomasz Andrzej WRÓBLEWSKI - Employers, PL)
    The EESC deplores the worrying developments in the EU and welcomes the Commission's initiatives for media freedom. However, it considers that mere recommendations and a soft-law approach are not enough. It is the free and independent media that must be a binding criterion for the rule of law report and mechanism. As for the media market, it is concerned about whether the completion of the internal media market will be enough to protect media freedom and pluralism. When national regulators fail to address media market concentration, the Commission should react in accordance with the EU anti-concentration law provisions.  More
  • Communicating fundamental rights and the rule of law (SOC/ 725, rapporteur Cristian PÎRVULESCU –Civil Society Organisations, RO; co-rapporteur José Antonio MORENO DÍAZ – Workers, ES)

The rule of law and human rights can be perceived by some as excessively abstract, distant, jargonistic and legalistic concepts. Communicating the rule of law effectively requires focusing on shared values and relatable concepts of fairness and justice. The EU is a global actor, whose responsibility to respect the rule of law and fundamental rights stands central to its international identity and role. All external policies, programmes, instruments and actions should reflect their centrality for the EU and the importance for a democratic and peaceful world. The EESC also calls for Member States to mainstream the rule of law and fundamental rights in schools and higher education. More.


Food price crisis: the role of speculation and concrete proposals for action in the aftermath of the Ukraine war (NAT/873  rapporteur Peter SCHMIDT , Workers, DE)
With this own-initiative opinion, the EESC addresses the global food price crisis stressing that food should not be treated as a financial asset because it is not a commodity like many others. The EESC points out that the current structure of the commodities market is not delivering the "sustainable economy we need" and the sustainable development, climate ambitions and just transition enshrined in the UN 2030 Agenda and the European Green Deal - but actively works against them.  More

Empowering youth to achieve sustainable development through education (NAT/860  rapporteur Tatjana BABRAUSKIENĖ – Workers, LT)
The EESC calls on the Member States to reaffirm the commitment they made at COP26 to making climate action and sustainable development a core component in the educational curriculum. It stresses the need for a comprehensive cross-cutting approach, ensuring cooperation between the different stakeholders, social partners and civil society organisations. The EESC encourages the European Commission to continue focusing on the needs of youth in the European Year of Skills 2023, linking it to sustainable development and the challenges young people are facing in the changing world.   More

Industry/internal market

  • A competitiveness check to build a stronger and more resilient EU economy (INT/1000, rapporteur Christian ARDHE – Employers, SE; co-rapporteur Giuseppe GUERINI – Civil Society Organisations, IT)
    In this opinion, the EESC argues that the EU should put in place a mandatory "competitiveness check" to assess the impact of all EU measures and policies on the competitiveness of European businesses and products. The check should apply to legislative initiatives, secondary legislation, fiscal measures, strategies and programmes and also to international agreements. The EESC also argues that the EU should adopt a "competitiveness agenda" focused on the long-term improvement of the EU's competitiveness. More
  • Defence Investment Gaps Analysis and the way forward (CCMI/198  rapporteur Panagiotis GKOFAS , Civil Society Organisations, EL; co-rapporteur Jan PIE, Employers, SE)
    The EESC supports the initiatives proposed in the Communication on the Defence Investment Gaps Analysis. It also stresses that an EU defence industry strategy requires a strong European defence and security policy. The Member States should review their national defence in order to foresee the quota allocated to consolidating the common European defence investments on an annual basis. In this way, they will contribute to assessing the financial base for concrete EU coordinated actions that are dedicated to boosting the European defence capabilities.  More
  • An industrial strategy for the maritime technology sector (CCMI/193  rapporteur Anastasis YIAPANIS , Civil Society Organisations, CY; co-rapporteur Christophe TYTGAT, Employers, BE)
    The EESC, through this own-initiative opinion, acknowledges the lack of sectoral policy actions to support the challenges and needs of the maritime technology (MT) sector. It makes concrete proposals for immediate action to strengthen Europe's maritime resilience and strategic maritime autonomy and to regain global competitiveness. The EESC requests that MT be considered as an EU strategic sector and its activities as "critical infrastructure" as soon as possible and calls for a maritime industry strategy and enough dedicated resources in the European Commission's services.  More

External relations

  • COVID-19: The role of civil society in the reconstruction and resilience of the Euro-Mediterranean region (REX/537, rapporteur Angelo Pagliara - Workers, IT)
    The Covid-19 pandemic has strongly affected the Euro-Mediterranean region, creating new challenges and exacerbating pre-existing ones. The pandemic has demonstrated fundamental weaknesses in institutions, economies and health systems. This information report highlights the most deeply areas, calling for the participation of civil society organisations which play a key role in ensuring an inclusive economic and social reconstruction. More
  • The socio-economic situation in Latin America following the Covid-19 crisis – the role of civil society in the recovery process REX/552, rapporteur: Josep Puxeu Rocamora - Employers, ES
    With regard to the EU's and Latin America's geopolitical competition, establishing strategic autonomy makes it possible to enhance bi-regional cooperation. The opinion focuses on improving dialogue and enhancing cooperation between the two regions, by taking a horizontal approach and engaging in multilevel dialogue. More
  • Digital transition in the Euro-Mediterranean region (REX/549, rapporteur Dolores Sammut Bonnici- Employers, MT)
    The current information report analyses new aspects in the digital transition for inclusive economic development and job creation throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region. Amongst others, it udnerlines the potential impact of the renewed partnership with the Southern Mediterranean and its support of resilient, sustainable and connected economies with opportunities for all, especially women and youth. More