Išorės santykių skyrius (REX) - Related Opinions
The situation concerning economic, social and cultural rights is quite patchy in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Although some countries, in the wake of what has been called the Arab spring, drew up new constitutions enshrining some of these rights in legislation for the very first time, the rights have not always been respected. In certain other countries, these rights have been weakened since 2011.The aim of this information report would be to give an overview of the current situation as regards economic, social and cultural rights in the Euro-Mediterranean region, as well as pinpointing new avenues for work in the future. This report would be submitted at the Euromed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and would enable us to work together with our counterparts from the Mediterranean countries.
The opinion stresses that the EU has a responsibility to become a global actor in promoting respect for fundamental rights and adequate protection of private life and personal data and encourages the European Commission to be pro-active at bilateral and multilateral level in promoting the highest standard of personal data protection.
In this sense, the EESC finds well-balanced and reasonable the four key criteria outlined in the Communication to be taken into account by the Commission when assessing the countries with which a dialogue on adequacy should be pursued. However, it finds important to interpret these criteria in the light of a real commitment on the part of the governments, parliaments, and courts in these countries to reach an equivalent and functional level of personal data protection and calls for more transparency and civil society participation in the process of granting adequacy decisions.
The EESC is a strong advocate of a fair, well-administered and sustainable development policy at EU level. It is also very committed to the cause of greater tax justice. In recent years, questions have been raised as to whether the international tax policies of the Member States, in particular the concluding of certain types of double taxation agreements, are consistent with EU development policy objectives.
In its opinion the EESC underlines that the social economy is a key player and helps to achieve the objectives of all European policies with an external dimension: external and security policy, trade policy, neighbourhood policy, climate change policy, development cooperation and sustainable development policy. However, the lack of an appropriate regulatory environment, at both European and national level, prevents this sector from developing its full potential and maximising its impact. The Commission and the Member States must promote the participation, consultation and coordination of their external entrepreneurial and development cooperation activities with the bodies representing the social economy at European and national level, as well as with those of partner countries, and with international social economy organisations with a North-South and South-South dimension.
The 2030 Agenda, the new global framework for sustainable development agreed by the UN in 2015, needs to be reflected in EU's development policy, the major orientations of which are set out in the 2005 European Consensus on Development ("the Consensus").
To this end, the Commission issued Communication COM(2016) 740, "Proposal for a New European Consensus on Development: Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future" in November 2016. Interinstitutional negotiations are expected to result in its endorsement in the form of a Joint Statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, in May 2017.
The EESC believes that the current framework for international ocean governance is unable to ensure the sustainable management of oceans and their resources, and urgent action is imperative. However, the Commission and the High Representative still need to prioritise the threats currently faced by our oceans in order to adequately reflect the urgent need for action. One of the causes of ineffective international ocean governance is the existence of gaps in the current international ocean governance framework. The EESC recommends that the Commission and High Representative address these gaps and inconsistencies, but also that they increase compliance with existing rules, for example by improving the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The EU should refrain from proposing any new legislation when better or more coordinated implementation of existing rules and regulations would be more efficient.