The proposal for a Regulation (COM(2018) 366) is based on Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union: the EU pursues the goal "to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples", the EU "shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced". But there is a clear perception that the number of challenges to face is larger, in particular the competition from online platforms and search engines, the concentration of the sector around a limited number of big players, or the rise of "disinformation". With this new programme, the EU Commission wants to offer opportunities for operators to develop technologically and artistically innovative European trans-border initiatives to exchange, co-create, co-produce, and distribute European works. The purpose is also to strengthen the position of EU actors in the EU and global markets.
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Opinions in the spotlight
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the proposal for a regulation for the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) research and training programme 2021-2025.
The EESC considers the EURATOM budget to be proportionate to the objectives set and considers it essential to maintain this financial allocation regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The Committee also considers it crucial in this respect to manage the United Kingdom's exit from the Euratom programme with the utmost care, particularly with regard to research already in progress, shared infrastructure and the social impact on staff (e.g. working conditions) both on British soil and elsewhere.
The EESC notes that achieving clean energy is a high priority and to this end fusion energy is recognised as a potential long-term solution with Europe being at the forefront of developing fusion technologies which are carbon-free, sustainable and help secure our mix of energy supplies.
The EESC emphasises that the high level of long-term investment needed for the development of a fusion power plant does still entail some industrial risk, but in the event of success the realisation of a fusion power plant would be a newly introduced factor that would significantly change the existing energy supply by providing a disruptive innovation, with fusion fuel being abundant and virtually inexhaustible.
The EESC endorses the Commission's proposal and highlights the suggestions for future support put forward in the opinion.
The EESC does not suggest amending the proposal, but instead calls for closer monitoring of activities in areas raised in the opinion, particularly a sustainable development oriented approach in the choice of energy sources; proper consideration of the specific situation in Lithuania in particular, as well as in other countries concerned with regard to socio-economic aspects; dissemination throughout the EU of knowledge acquired in the area of dismantling and on the issue of training workers; safe and sustainable management of nuclear waste generated; and strengthening of performance indicators by including performance in relation to protecting workers from radiation.
The EESC thinks that, in addition to strengthening the coordination between supervisory authorities and streamlining procedures, operations should also be coordinated with other relevant parties to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing effectively. The EESC stresses the importance of internal and external communication on money laundering and financing of terrorism. The key element in internal communications is improving and protecting information streams between the supervisory bodies concerned; in the case of external communication, the public in question should be provided with information and made aware of the different ways this kind of crime may be presented, as a means of preventing and preparing for it.
The EESC points out that a non-immigration scenario in Europe would mean among other things that Member States' economies would suffer substantially; demographic challenges would be aggravated; pension systems might become unsustainable; racism and xenophobia would flourish even more than at present. Non-integration bears economic, socio-cultural and political risks and costs. Hence, investment in migrant integration is the best insurance policy against potential future costs, problems and tensions.
A large number of Roma women and girls continue to face multiple discrimination in various areas, ranging from health to employment and education, amongst others. They also have limited opportunities to influence the policies that most concern them. The EESC emphasises the importance of their involvement, with programmes aimed at Roma women foreseeing a majority of Roma women in their planning and implementation. The EESC calls for an end to segregated education and for the abolition of health practices which infringe ethical standards.
This opinion responds to a request from European Parliament for an exploratory opinion on gender equality in European labour markets, which had put a special emphasis on the pay situation and care obligations.
The opinion considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to policies for improving equality between women and men and to help implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. It reiterates the EESC positions on the gender pay gap and work-life balance and recommends gender neutral pay systems. It pleads to fight gender segregation in education, training and the labour market, in particular of women belonging to vulnerable groups.
The EESC calls on the authorities at all levels to engage in close cooperation with all the stakeholders with a view to drawing up a specific action plan on the future of European retail in the 21st century.
This opinion will look into how the access to finance for non-state climate actors can be facilitated.