A system of corporate liability for human rights abuses is currently being negotiated in the UN, within the UNHRC’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises concerning human rights (OEIGWG), established by the UN General Assembly on 26 June 2014. The mandate of the working group is to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
The opinion presents the EESC's proposal for the new European Disability strategy 2020-2030, at a crucial moment in the EU landscape. With a new European Commission, a new European Parliament and a new budget programming period, the timing is perfect to come up with a Disability Strategy that fully takes into account the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD), the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The opinion tackles various policy areas, drawing attention to the crosscutting character of disability rights.
Against a background of rising poverty levels during the crisis, levels that remain high in many Member States, in particular among the unemployed, this own-initiative opinion would address the huge differences in levels of protection under national unemployment insurance systems within the EU.
Possible standards in this respect could be:
- a minimum standard for the net replacement rate of unemployment benefits;
- a minimum standard of coverage ratio of unemployed people receiving unemployment payments;
- a minimum standard for the duration of unemployment benefit entitlement;
- a right to (re)qualification and training
With the objective of promoting upward social convergence within the EU, the proposal for such standards is a concrete step towards effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights recently announced by the EU institutions in Gothenburg.
When it comes to development and EU-Africa relations, the EESC consistently emphasised the importance of sustainable development and cooperation based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Initiatives focused on trade, investment and business relations with Africa could be welcomed, but not to the detriment of traditional development policies focusing on reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EU and Africa leaders agreed in 2015 at the Valletta summit on migration on setting up the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), as the main instrument of EU external migration policy. The Fund finances the development of border protection capacities, but also long-term development policy projects so as to decrease the likelihood of further migration.
Taxation policies are fundamental for the SDGs as they determine the economic environment in which investment, employment, and innovation take place while providing the government with revenues for financing public spending. Businesses are global drivers of productivity, inclusive economic growth, job creation, investment and innovation. Private sector expertise holds the keys to unlocking many of the challenges linked to sustainable development. Tax bases should be as broad as possible allowing tax rates to be as non-distortive as possible.
This own-initiative opinion refers to what a comprehensive approach to industrial policy should include, in order to reposition European production of goods and services in the global context, on the basis of an eco-social open market model that responds to the tradition and the future of the EU.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Regulation, adopted in 2008, sets out its mission and tasks, as well as the framework for its operation. This regulation was amended in 2013 to bring it in line with the Horizon 2020 programme.
For the period 2021-2027, Horizon Europe will be the Union program that will finance the EIT. Since a number of provisions of the EIT Regulation refer directly to the current Horizon 2020 program, these provisions need to be amended to make them compatible with the forthcoming EU Framework Programmes for research and innovation. It is therefore proposed to make the new EIT Regulation temporally neutral, so that it would in principle not be necessary to modify it at the end of each MFF or that the changes would be only minimal. It is proposed to amend it by means of the legislative recasting technique to ensure greater legal clarity and readability.
The EESC echoes the European Parliament's call to phase out all investor schemes and recommends that until then certain mitigation measures are put in place. Member States should be urged to apply a due diligence process without specific duration restrictions and adapted to the high-risk profile of applicants. A coordination mechanism should allow Member States to exchange information on successful and rejected applications for citizenship and residence permits. All agents and intermediaries providing services to applicants should be subject to anti-money-laundering rules as set out in the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The EU should encourage all agents providing services to applicants to be accredited and subject to a code of conduct. Authorities should maintain primary responsibility for accepting or rejecting applicants. Authorities must also maintain a set of measures to avoid conflicts of interest or bribery risks.