Digitalisation offers a wealth of new possibilities allowing people to make choices for a better life in an unprecedented way. On the other hand, the more digitalisation dominates our life, the more we can also be manipulated. The EESC calls for transparent rules to be developed, adapted and applied to these rapidly evolving technologies. Good persuasive technology should involve training, not manipulation, and comply with the principle of people's free choice, to guarantee human autonomy.
The EESC launched the idea of a Framework Directive on a European Minimum Income already in 2013 (SOC/482). As the principle of minimum income was integrated in the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), it was again supported twice by the EESC (SOC/542 and SOC/564). Applying the open method of coordination (OMC) as the only mechanism to reduce poverty continues to be insufficient to achieve the target set in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Introducing a binding European framework for a decent minimum income in Europe, enabling minimum income schemes in the Member States to be made "decent" (adequate) is a key European response to the serious and persistent problem of poverty in Europe.
The EESC welcomes the reforms aimed at increasing high-quality investment and productivity growth, inclusiveness and institutional quality, and to ensure macro-financial stability and sound public finances. The EESC also welcomes the recognition of the need for investment focused on education and training and the need to strengthen the EU’s social dimension. However, it remains to be specified how these objectives are to be achieved. The EESC underlines that progress is very slow and proposals often rather modest in areas where new policies have been proposed, including fair taxation, the banking union and the functioning of the euro area. Moreover, the EESC recognises the importance of addressing climate change but measures so far adopted remain insufficient.
The EESC supports the Commission's steps to ensure basic international HVG freight transport connectivity on a temporary basis between the Union and the United Kingdom.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the proposal for a regulation under examination grants UK road haulage operators the right, until 31/12/2019, to move freely within Union territory, in compliance with the common EU rules on access to the international haulage market, and provided that Union carriers can also move freely on UK territory under fair, equal and non-discriminatory conditions of competition.
The EESC is of the opinion that building economic resilience, an objective that underlies the recommendations of the European Commission on the economic policy of the euro area, is of the utmost importance for the euro area economies. However, the Committee would like to stress that the pursuit of economic resilience should go hand in hand with increased labour market resilience, that is, the capacity of labour markets to weather shocks with limited social costs.
The Western Balkan countries have some of the lowest female labour force participation and employment rates across Europe. Almost two-thirds of working age women in the region are either inactive or unemployed. The gender gap starts early and persists across all age groups.
The report will try to find out the correlation between education, employment opportunities, family responsibilities and the nowadays status of the women in the region and to propose adequate measures for improving the situation of women in the region.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to speed up returns, but regrets that the recast was not supported by an impact assessment and/or public consultation on the existing Directive 2008/115/EC.
The EESC believes that an effective returns policy should be part of a truly common policy and legislation for legal migration and for asylum, which is currently missing, giving the impression that the EU adopts a purely security and policing-focused vision of migration as a criminal matter. Such a comprehensive common EU migration policy would also be the best answer to the extreme right-wing and nationalist discourse on migration.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to making the return procedure quicker and more efficient. Even so, consideration should be given to how realistic the proposed time-scales are and an assessment made of the obstacles that could frustrate this intention.
The European Economic and Social Committee would like to reiterate its commitment to the WTO as the guardian of international trade and a crucible for developing rules and disciplines to ensure fair trade, the liberalisation of trade in goods and services, and transparency in trade-related policy-making.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the Commission's initiative, considering it an important step in developing an industrial strategy for cybersecurity and a strategic move to achieve robust and comprehensive digital autonomy. These aspects are essential for strengthening Europe's defence mechanisms against the ongoing cyberwarfare that threatens to undermine its political, economic and social systems.