Highlights of the European Economic and Social Committee's October plenary

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The EESC will host the following debates:

  • 26 October, 3.45 pm "A strategic vision on energy transition to enable the EU's strategic autonomy" with prof. Leonardo Meeus, Director of the Florence School of Regulation, Florence University Institute, and the rapporteurs of a key EESC opinion on this topic to be adopted at this plenary (see below).
  • 26 October, 5.00 pm "Improving women's participation in jobs and entrepreneurship: gender and intersectionality issues" with European Parliament Vice-President Evelyn Regner as part of Gender Equality Week.
  • 26 October, 6.30 pm "Jointly tackling an existential threat: social partners and civil society for implementation of ambitious climate action" with Pegah Moulana (Youth and Environment Europe).
  • 27 October, 9.30 am Renewed cooperation protocol between the European Commission and the EESC and European Commission work programme 2023, with European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

Key reports to be put to the vote:

Hot topics

  • A strategic vision on energy transition to enable the EU's strategic autonomy (TEN/770, rapporteurs: Thomas Kattnig – Workers, AT; Lutz Ribbe - Civil Society Organisations, DE; Tomasz Andrzej Wróblewski – Employers, PL)

The EESC supports a European strategic vision on energy transition in order to build and promote the EU's strategic autonomy in the field of energy. The consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine for the EU's energy supply and prices are enormous and require immediate measures to address the most pressing issues, in particular to ensure security of supply at a cost that is "as affordable as possible" for both consumers and industry. The EESC suggests ways to ease the burden. More

  • Changing European Neighbourhood cooperation programmes to reflect war in Ukraine (REX/564, rapporteur Andris Gobiņš- Civil Society Organisations, LV)

The Russian aggression against Ukraine has imposed some swift changes to the EU cooperation programmes with the Eastern Neighbourhood. While these basic changes need to be approved as quickly as possible, the EESC flags up others which would be a highly desirable second step, including transferring to Ukraine the funds initially earmarked for Russia and Belarus, to deal with the massive fallout of the war.More

  • A digital euro (ECO/580, rapporteur Juraj Sipko-- Civil Society Organisations, SK)

In this own-initiative opinion, the EESC takes a deep look at the possible introduction of a digital euro, with its opportunities and challenges. The Committee considers financial and digital inclusiveness to be very important in the introduction of the digital euro, and so expects that it will benefit everyone in the euro area. Potential risks must also be pointed out, and the EESC calls on the ECB to take all necessary measures to counter unlawful transactions, particularly for the purposes of money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as to combat cyber-attacks. The EESC also stresses the need for civil society to be involved in the next stages of preparations, negotiations and discussions on the introduction of a digital euro. More.

  • Initiative against abusive litigation targeting journalists and rights defenders (SOC/734,  rapporteur  Tomasz Andrzej WRÓBLEWSKI, Employers, PL,; co-rapporteur: Christian MOOS, Civil Society Organisations, DE)

The EESC has welcomed the Commission's initiative against abusive litigation targeting journalists and rights defenders as a step forward in combating gagging procedures. Pointing to strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) as an abuse of the law that is unacceptable in democratic States governed by the rule of law, the EESC proposes that the list of the proposed mechanisms to counter SLAPPs be expanded. At the same time, the EESC highlights the importance of separating SLAPP actions from the protection of personal rights and the possibility to defend one's good name in cases of defamation. More


  • Improving equality in the EU (SOC/724, rapporteur: Ozlem YILDIRIM - Workers, FR; co-rapporteur: Cristian PÎRVULESCU - Civil Society Organisations, RO)

Combating all forms of discrimination is one of the aims of the EU, as enshrined in the Treaties. Yet, Member States have never agreed on the Directive proposed by the European Commission in 2008, which would have extended the existing EU protection against discrimination to all policy areas. The EESC stresses that inequalities and complex discrimination created by social structures can only be addressed through consistent and complex policies, real resources and long-term engagement. Awareness-raising, visibility and training are also key levers that should be incorporated into all areas of society. More.

  • The role of family members caring for people with disabilities and older persons: the explosion of the phenomenon during the pandemic (SOC/730, rapporteur: Pietro Vittorio BARBIERI, Civil Society Organisations, IT)

In this opinion, the EESC stressed the need to establish a common definition of the role and the situation of a family member providing long-term care for a relative. Structural measures in social polices and services should be adopted to improve the living conditions of these carers. Each such measure should be taken jointly by public policy makers, employers through social dialogue and family caregivers and their organisations. The EESC supports scaling and adapting the right to alternative forms of remuneration for those forces to give up employment to provide long term care to their family member More

  • Ensuring strong European solidarity for rare disease patients (SOC/729, rapporteur: Alain COHEUR, Civil Society Organisations, BE)

The EESC calls on the EU to adopt a comprehensive approach to rare diseases, which would mitigate their impact on patients and their daily, family and professional life. It suggests supporting fundamental research and a European Health Data Space based on the FAIR principle (findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability), making Orphanet's expertise fully available in all language via their website. It suggests creating a new European authority for non-communicable diseases and recommends that the next trio presidency 2023-2024 keeps the rare disease policy on the agenda. More


  • Recapitalising EU companies – An innovative way towards sustained and inclusive recovery (ECO/582, rapporteur Antonio García Del Riego - Employers, ES)

With this own-initiative opinion, the EESC looks at the equity and hybrid capital shortfall in the EU, putting companies at risk as they rely mainly on bank financing. The Committee recommends highly subordinated hybrid financial instruments as a solution to diversify their sources of funding. These instruments should enjoy a quasi-equity status. The EESC encourages a scheme that establishes collaboration between private and public institutions, including banks, asset managers, the public sector, and institutional investors. Finally, an EU-wide instrument model could benefit from the visibility, liquidity and scale of the single market and generate broad appeal among institutional investors. More.

  • Annual Sustainable Growth Survey 2022 – Update (ECO/589, rapporteur Judith Vorbach - Workers, AT)

Since the adoption of the EESC opinion on the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey 2022, the situation has changed dramatically. But the current crisis must not be allowed to jeopardise the EU's fairness and environmental goals, says the EESC. The Committee welcomes the measures to support the most vulnerable and safeguard the purchasing power of low- and medium-income households. But the EESC also expresses reservations about limiting the growth of nationally financed current expenditure below medium-term potential output, and the intention to assess whether to open excessive deficit procedures in spring 2023. It finally calls for a swift reform of the European electricity market to be promoted as a matter of urgency. More.

  • Euro area economic policy 2022 - Update (SOC/727, Maria del Carmen BARRERA CHAMORRO – Workers, Spain)

With war raging in Ukraine, the continued prevalence of COVID-19 and increased geoeconomic fragmentation, all key objectives of a prosperity-oriented EU economic policy are under pressure. In a newly adopted opinion, the EESC reiterates that all substantive and systemic measures should be taken to tackle the ongoing pandemic, and supports an end to the Russian aggression. Also, while inflation is at an all-time high, the European Central Bank should analyse the side effects of its monetary policy, for example on growth and employment and the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact must move forward. In view of sharply rising energy and food prices, national economic policy-makers need to set up an effective social safety net for the most vulnerable population groups, including the most affected segments of the middle class. More.


  • The importance of public transport for Europe's Green Recovery (TEN/774, rapporteur: Kristina Krupavičienė – Workers, LT; co-rapporteur: Dovilė Juodkaitė - Civil Society Organisations, LT)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people's mobility patterns and, for this reason, the EU needs a specific strategy to improve mobility, upgrade public transport and really make it environmentally and people friendly. The Committee suggests ways to ensure access to basic public services. More


  • Towards a sustainable plant protein and plant oil strategy for the EU (NAT/856, rapporteur:  Lutz RIBBE, Civil Society Organisations, DE)

In this opinion, the EESC argues out that there are many good reasons to expand protein production in the EU and in particular to increase the role of grassland in feeding animals. Expanding oil crop cultivation could also lead to self-sufficiency in terms of tractor fuel, increased availability of oil cakes supply that have an excellent protein feed potential and increased crop rotations. Given the limited area available for farming, the EESC believes that there is an urgent need to carry out an EU-wide study on the potential and land-share of protein and oil crops that could be grown in the EU. More.

Industry/internal market

  • Emergency preparedness (CCMI/190, rapporteur Andrés Barceló Delgado– Employers, ES; co-rapporteur Monika Sitárová – CCMI Delegate, SK)

In this opinion, the EESC asks the European Commission and the Member States to urgently develop a plan to boost the EU's single market autonomy and sovereignty regarding energy generation facilities, food and water production, the mining of raw materials and technologies. The plan should also look at how to secure critical raw materials supplies (copper, lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements, etc.) through new EU single market strategies on mining and recycling.More

  • Digital Innovation Hubs and SMEs (CCMI/194, rapporteur: Giuseppe GUERINI, Civil Society Organisations, IT; co-rapporteur: Nicos EPISTITHIOU, CY)

In this opinion the EESC looks at how the Digital Innovation Hubs could help SMEs accomplish the green and digital transitions. In particular, it believes that they can serve as platforms for testing technological solutions prior to investing at scale, for exchanging best practices and for developing digital skills. They can also act as "middle-layers" to listen to SMEs demands and identify tools and solutions suitable for them. The EESC aso flags up that DIHs are not distributed evenly across Europe: Eastern and south-eastern Europe are lagging behind, a disparity that must be reduced for Europea to progress as a whole. More.


  • Multilateral investor-state arbitration court (REX/551, rapporteur Christophe Quarez-Workers' Group, FR)

With this own-initiative opinion, the EESC urges the European Commission to focus on substance as well as procedural issues in the ongoing negotiations for the possible creation of a multilateral investment court under the auspices of the UN, calling for a multilateral framework that can ensure a balance between the legitimate right of States to legislate in accordance with democratic rules and the protection of investments. More

The EU in the world

  • Cultural diplomacy as a vector of EU external relations. New partnerships and the role of civil society organisations (REX/548, rapporteur: Luca Jahier - Civil Society Organisations' Group, IT)

At a time when war has returned to Europe with devastating impact, the EESC stresses that cultural relations need more than ever to become a tool for dialogue and peace. The opinion asks for a multiannual strategic action plan and adequate funding, actions to protect and restore heritage damagd by wars or disasters and ambitious measures to support Europe's creative industries. More