Digitalisation is on everyone’s lips, often spoken of as an irresistible force for change. We are told that in its scale, speed and complexity, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. These changes are transforming the nature of work and the individual behaviour of users in Europe without regard for the role and place of the human factor.
The EESC welcomes the initiative of the European Commission (EC) to launch the assessment of the draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) submitted by the Member States, thereby following up on the new governance model launched by the Council and the Parliament in December 2018 and aimed at ensuring the transition to clean energy and climate protection through a multilevel interactive dialogue which fully involves civil society and public and private entities at local and regional level. The EU is the first major global economy to adopt, through specific National Energy and Climate Plans, a legally binding framework to deliver on its 2015 commitments under the COP21 Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda.
The EESC supports the Commission's aim of ensuring equal treatment, for VAT purposes, for armed forces of Member States working together within an EU framework and NATO armed forces employed in the EU, which already benefit from VAT exemption. The Committee suggests that different national tax authorities should have one system under which the new exemptions are implemented.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) was created in 2008 by Regulation (EC) No 294/2008. Its mission is to respond to major societal challenges by improving the EU's innovation capabilities and performance. Every seven years, the Commission has to submit a proposal for a Strategic Innovation Programme (SIP) which sets out the priority areas and the long-term strategy for the EIT's action, as well as its financial needs.
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to how environmental laws could be better supported at EU and national level and suggest ways to enhance the role of civil society in the framework of the EIR process.