At its last plenary session, held on 17 October 2018, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion aiming to improve the EU space programme's outcomes and raise its profile. The EESC supports the EU's efforts to remain a major independent space power, but calls for more investment in research, start-ups and business incubators as well as for a consistent application of the "European preference" principle. Clear emphasis should be placed on space mining research and the benefits that space activities could provide in terms of sustainable development.
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Sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBS) can contribute to a greater diversification of and a risk reduction for sovereign bond portfolios held by banks and other financial operators. This could have a positive impact on the stability and resilience of the financial system and improve financial market integration.
Stakeholders from European level organisations and members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) gathered in Brussels on 29 October 2018 to take stock of the state of play of the health situation of the Roma and their access to healthcare, assessing in particular the situation of women and children. A number of issues were highlighted, such as discrimination in access to healthcare, differences in life expectancy between Roma and non-Roma people, poverty and its effects on their health and, regarding women and children, forced sterilisations, pregnancy, infant and maternal mortality, and the vaccination of children.
Despite welcoming the proposal for the new European Social Fund Plus due to its potential ability to promote social inclusion, the EESC criticises the fact that it will receive less funding under the new long-term EU budget
The 7th meeting of the EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) that took place in Belgrade on 23 October gave an opportunity to civil society organisations from both sides to examine the state of play of Serbia's accession process. Although welcoming positive economic developments in Serbia, the JCC expressed in the joint declaration its concern about "the lack of progress in the area of freedom of expression" and encouraged the Serbian authorities to "redouble their efforts to ensure respect for the rule of law, fundamental rights, judicial reform, the fight against corruption and freedom of the press".
The European Union has committed itself in international agreements to working towards a low-carbon, more resource-efficient and sustainable economy, as well as towards social goals, as recently in the Gothenburg declaration on the European Pillar of Social Rights. Financing these commitments to sustainable growth, taking into account environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria, constitutes an enormous investment challenge that exceeds public funding capacities and will require additional resources.
According to an opinion adopted on 18 October 2018 by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the InvestEU proposal put forward by the European Commission in the package of regulations on the future multiannual financial framework should contribute to strengthening investment activity in the EU, thus innovation and job creation.
The EESC calls upon the Commission to amend its plans to make the use of EU funding by Member States dependent upon their respect for the rule of law, democratic standards and fundamental rights.
Measures to enhance the international competitiveness of European SMEs by reducing costs and streamlining registration and company changes through digitalisation were welcomed by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in a report adopted at its October plenary. New common rules simplifying cross border conversions, mergers and divisions also received a thumbs-up, with European civil society appreciating the Commission's wholistic approach, taking into account the impact of these processes on employees and society as a whole.
The EESC hearing on the new MFF and cohesion policy seen from the disability perspective shows the EC proposal could still be improved
The European Commission's proposals for new rules governing the funds that underpin EU cohesion policy fail to list equality and accessibility for persons with disabilities among mandatory eligibility criteria for funding. This poses a risk that public money may be used to finance infrastructure or services that will only increase their discrimination, an EESC hearing revealed.