Highlights of the EESC's 577th plenary session

The EESC will host the following debates:

  • 22 March, 3.00 pm - Beyond the crisis: which way forward for the EU energy policy?”, with Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for energy.
  • 22 March, 3.50 pm - “Towards strong, inclusive and resilient labour markets in the European Union” with Marina Elvira Calderone, Italian Minister of Labour and Social Policies.
  • 22 March, 5.30 pm - Building partnerships with civil society to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”, with Ambassador Lachezara Stoeva, President of the UN Economic and Social Council
  • 23 March, 9.00 am - “United for democracy: employers', workers' and civil society's organisations working for a sustainable democratic future” with European Commission vice-president Věra Jourová; Liina Carr, ETUC confederal secretary; Daryna Onyshko, president of the European Democracy Youth Network; Brikena Xhomaqi, co-chair of the EESC Liaison group; Ken Godfrey, executive director of the European Partnership for Democracy, , and Helfried Carl, co-founder of the Innovation in politics Institute and founder of the European Capital of Democracy initiative.

Key reports to be put to the vote:


  • State of the Energy Union 2022 (TEN/791, rapporteurs: Marcin Nowacki – Employers, PL; Angelo Pagliara – Workers, IT; Lutz Ribbe - Civil society organisations, DE)

The EESC assesses the European Commission's 7th State of the Energy Union report, published in October 2022. The EESC underlines that the Energy Union is above all a political project with the following objectives: solidarity and trust between Member States speaking with one voice in global affairs; an integrated energy system where energy flows freely across borders, based on competition, effective regulation and optimal use of resources, and a sustainable low-carbon and climate-friendly economy designed to last. More

  • Digitalising the energy system - EU action plan (TEN/798, rapporteur: Thomas KATTNIG – Workers, AT; co-rapporteur: Zsolt KÜKEDI - Civil society organisations / HU)

The EESC emphasises the link between the energy transition and the digital transformation, stressing the benefits of digitalisation in terms of energy savings, reduced energy intensity and better management of energy infrastructure. More specifically, the Committee points out the importance of strengthening the role of active consumers in digitalisation and of encouraging them to use as many smart solutions as possible. More


  • Recommendation on minimum income (SOC/744, rapporteurs Jason DEGUARA - Workers, MT, and Paul Soete – Employers, BE)

The EESC believes that minimum income schemes should be part of national strategies to combat poverty. It calls for the setting up of a robust methodology for setting levels of minimum income benefits to take into account the different income sources and the specific situations of households. It is of the opinion that there should be an adequate minimum income which leaves no one behind and does not have overly restrictive criteria. The EESC insists on the need to keep minimum incomes in line with inflation and in this respect proposes that Member States should assess minimum income levels at least on a yearly basis. More

  • Violation of sanctions/EU crimes (SOC/739, rapporteur: José Antonio MORENO DÍAZ, Workers, ES)

The EU's decentralized implementation of foreign policy sanctions results in fragmented national legislation with Member State authorities monitoring abidance, granting derogations, establishing penalties for violations and investigating and prosecuting them. The proposal for a new Directive will standardize criminal offenses and penalties for violating EU sanctions. The EESC opinion urges expansion of the humanitarian carve-out for humanitarian agencies and whistle-blowers, demands proactive support for the private sector and civil society, and calls for Member States to have adequate administrative capacities and trained personnel to detect, prosecute and punish sanctions violations. More

  • Strengthening the role and independence of equality bodies (SOC/750, rapporteur: Nicoletta MERLO, Workers, IT; and Sif HOLST, Civil Society Organisations, DK)

Equality bodies protect victims, report on discrimination issues, and play a significant role in the EU's non-discrimination architecture. The EU has adopted two proposals to strengthen equality bodies' independence, resources and powers. The EESC welcomes this initiative but emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between setting standards and subsidiarity. It also recommends policies that take into account intersectionality and disabilities and suggest developing information campaigns to raise awareness and promote inclusion. More

  • Young people's role in the green transition (SOC/753, rapporteur Nicoletta MERLO – Workers, IT)

To enable young people to play a crucial role in the green transition, it is essential to develop a new, more inclusive governance model that will ensure their active involvement and a leading role for youth organisations in decision-making processes. To this end, the EU should ensure structural financial support for these organisations. The EESC encourages EU institutions and Member States to implement measures to ensure that the youth perspective is taken into account in all policy areas. To ensure future employability of young people, the EESC considers it necessary to start teaching sustainability and environmental protection issues from an early age. More


  • Review of the European market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) (ECO/601, rapporteur: Florian MARIN - Workers, RO)

A safe, robust and competitive clearing ecosystem is an essential part of a well-functioning Capital Markets Union (CMU).. But today, European financial markets are put at risk by overdependence on services provided by third-country Central Counterparties (CCPs), especially in the UK. The EESC expects a clearer stance on reducing exposure to UK CCPs and more specific rules and incentives after Brexit. The Committee also asks for social, governance and environmental risks of CCPs to be included in the risk models, and proposes that civil society be involved in the monitoring mechanism established under Article 23c and in the Joint Monitoring Mechanism as an observer. More

  • Listing rules for public markets (Listing act) (ECO/602, rapporteur: Kęstutis KUPŠYS – Civil Society Organisations, LT)

The Committee argues that bringing family-owned companies to capital markets would open up untapped potential to attract capital for growth, and a multiple-voting rights regime would help families retain control, making listing more attractive to them. The EESC also welcomes the Commission's initiative to streamline the contents of a prospectus that would significantly reduce costs and burden for issuers, and to allow issuers to publish a prospectus in English only. However, publication of a full-scale document, and not only the summary, in national languages would empower local retail investors. More

  • Administrative cooperation in taxation (DAC 8) (ECO/604, rapporteur: Petru Sorin DANDEA – Workers, Romania; co-rapporteur: Benjamin RIZZO - Civil Society Organisations, Malta)

The EESC deems that reporting obligations should not be limited solely to exchanges and transfers in crypto-assets, but should also be extended, at least during the initial phase, to overall holdings of crypto-currency. It also stresses the need for effective and proportional penalties, leaving the decision on the specific amounts of sanctions to be issued up to the Member States. Finally, the Committee hopes that the penalties and compliance measures will be able to strike a proper balance between effective rules and adequate deterrence on one hand, and proportionality on the other. More


EU strategy on fertilisers (NAT/888, rapporteur: Arnold PUECH d'ALISSAC - Employers, FR)

The EESC The EESC welcomes the communication from the Commission on ensuring availability and affordability of fertilisers and recommends corrective measures to improve the functioning of the EU fertiliser market, advises taking actions such as suspending EU import tariffs on all fertilisers: It welcomes the announced fertiliser market observatory to be set up in the current year. It also calls for taking into consideration the social aspects of the crisis , the impact of fertiliser prices on farmers ad of food price inflation on consumers when adopting new measures. More

Industry, production, consumption

  • Strategic foresight 2022 (INT/998, rapporteur: Angelo PAGLIARA – Workers, IT)

The EESC takes a look at the report on the 2022 straregic foresight exercise, which focused on interactions between the digital and green transitions, and flags up the disparity between the desired future and the resources needed to achieve it. It also looks ahead to the 2023 foresight expercise and and pinpoints issues and areas to watch, first and foremost, the resilience of Europe's agri-food sector and industrial system, support for businesses and workers following on from what was done during the COVID crisis, the availability of raw materials, rare earth metals and water resources.  More

  • Wooden construction for CO2 reduction in the building sector (TEN/794, rapporteur: Rudolf KOLBE - Civil society organisations, AT); co-rapporteur: Sam HÄGGLUND – Workers, SE)

The EESC addresses the benefits of modern industrial wooden construction and says that an increase in the use of sustainable wood in construction, especially in public buildings, is essential to reduce carbon emissions and must be promoted through active and responsible forest management in the EU. More

EU in the world

  • Youth Action Plan in the EU external action (REX/566, rapporteur: Michael Mcloughlin - Civil Society Organisations, IE; co-rapporteur: Tatjana Babrauskienė - Workers, LT)

The Youth Action Plan (YAP) in EU external action is the first-ever policy framework for a strategic partnership with young people around the world put forward by the Commission and the High Representative. The EESC fully supports the YAP, but also points out that there may be challenges in roll-out and delivery which will need monitoring and oversight, and asks to be actively involved in the implementation of the YAP. More

Work organisation