Highlights of the European Economic and Social Committee's September plenary

The EESC will host the following debates:

  • 22 September, 9.15 am "Achieving efficient, accessible and fit-for future health and care policies in the EU" with European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.
  • 21 September, 4.30 pm "The role of organised civil society and cities in resilience to and recovery from asymmetric shocks and unforeseen crises" with Ivan Bartoš, Czechia's Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Minister of Regional Development.
  • 21 September, 6.00 pm "SMEs in Europe – challenges and perspectives", with David Clarinval, Belgium's Minister for the Middle-Classes, the Self-Employed, SMEs, Agriculture, Institutional Reforms and Democratic Renewal, Véronique Willems, Secretary-general of SMEunited, and Isabelle Schömann, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
  • 22 September, 11.00 am "Decent work worldwide", with Heinz Werner Koller, Regional Director of the ILO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.

Key reports to be put to the vote:

Hot topics

  • Health Workforce and Care Strategy (SOC/720, Rapporteurs Danko RELIĆ, Civil Society Organisations, HR; Zoe TZOTZE-LANARA, Workers, EL)

The EESC calls for a transformative approach to care centred on people, their rights and needs. It urges the Commission to set out an ambitious care strategy that would improve healthcare and long-term care across the EU and strive to ensure equal quality of service in each Member State and all its regions alike. To this end, the EESC proposes the launch of a European Care Guarantee. It also calls for complementarity and balance between public and private care service providers, based on solidarity. More

  • Tackling energy poverty and the EU's resilience: challenges from an economic and social perspective (SOC 717, rapporteur Ioannis VARDAKASTANIS, Civil Society Organisations, EL)

The EESC insists that ensuring equal access to energy and the security of energy supply at affordable cost must be an absolute priority for the European Union (EU) and its Member States. Urgent measures need to be adopted to prevent and tackle energy poverty faced by EU citizens and consumers. The EESC calls for the establishment of a broad and ambitious political coalition to analyse and address energy poverty from an all-encompassing approach with the objective of bringing it to a minimum level by 2030 and eliminating it altogether in the long term. It ssks the Commission to encourage Members States to develop national plans or policies to eradicate energy poverty. More

  • REPowerEU Plan (TEN/782, rapporteurs: Stefan Back – Employers, SV; Thomas Kattnig – Workers, AT; Lutz Ribbe – Civil Society Organisations, DE)

The EESC throws its support behind the REPowerEU Plan to make the EU independent of Russian gas and oil, but points out that many issues which are being addressed at the moment could have been avoided or at least limited if the dependency on energy imports had been reduced as proposed by the Commission in the past few years. More

  • Public investment in energy infrastructure as part of the solution to climate issues (TEN/771, rapporteur Thomas Kattnig – Workers, AT; co-rapporteur Lutz Ribbe – Civil Society Organisations, DE)

The EESC addresses the consequences of climate change, saying that experts point to insufficient mobilisation of funding, insufficient citizen and private sector engagement, and a lack of political leadership. To meet increasing demand for electricity and achieve the climate objectives, the EU must invest in smart and renewable energy systems and storage infrastructure, where all consumers play an active part. More


  • Crypto-assets – Challenges & opportunities (ECO/591, rapporteur Philip Von Brockdorff-Group 2, MA, co-rapporteur Louise Grabo-Group 3, SE)

In this own-initiative opinion, the EESC takes a deep look at the opportunities and challenges that could arise from crypto-assets in the future. While strongly supporting the European Commission's proposal for a Regulation on Markets in Crypto-assets, the Committee also makes crucial recommendations on how to improve this piece of legislation as well as the existing regulatory framework. This need to be robust, operational, and consistent across jurisdictions. The EESC also voices concern at the environmental consequences of crypto-assets and related mining activities. More.

  • Social taxonomy-Challenges & opportunities (ECO/581, rapporteur Judith Vorbach -Workers, AU)

With this own-initiative opinion, the EESC aims to to stimulate the debate on the idea of a social taxonomy. First, the Committee calls on the Commission to publish the overdue report describing the provisions that would be required to extend the EU sustainability taxonomy's scope to "other sustainability objectives, such as social objectives", as requested in the Taxonomy Regulation. The EESC estimates that an EU taxonomy should be part of a holistic approach including environmental as well as social sustainability, and elaborates on what the crucial elements of such a taxonomy would be. More

  • Climate Adjustment Fund financed by Cohesion and NGEU (ECO/583, rapporteur Ioannis Vardakastanis- Civil Society Organisations, EL; co-rapporteur Judith Vorbach-Workers, AU)

The EESC believes that the EU needs a new funding mechanism that can offer immediate and ambitious assistance to help the Member States in emergencies. The Committee therefore proposes creating a new Climate Adjustment Fund, to be financed through funds redirected from existing EU funds, mainly the Cohesion Fund and the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), but managed in a streamlined and coherent way through this new Fund. More

  • FAST-CARE (ECO/596, rapporteur Elene-Alexandra Calistru - Civil Society Organisations, RO)

Flexible Assistance to Territories is a new cohesion policy package from the Commission offering support to European territories and partners receiving Ukrainian refugees.  The EESC warmly welcomes this new package and considers that FAST-CARE will provide an adequate and timely response to the current circumstances. However, civil society and the social partners should be involved more actively. Also, new innovative financial tools, such as a separate EU fund for the reconstruction and development of Ukraine, should be added to the current MFF. More

  • Thematic partnership under the Ljubljana Agreement under the EU urban agenda (ECO/588, rapporteur David Sventek-Group 1, CZ, co-rapporteur Florian Marin-Group 3, RO)

The Ljubljana Agreement, adopted in November 2021, started a new phase for the EU urban agenda (UAEU). In its opinion requested by the Czech presidency of the EU, the EESC supports the new approach and particularly welcomes the strong focus on partnership and multilevel, multi-stakeholder approaches. But the Committee also raises concerns about the lack of synergies between the UAEU and Cohesion Policy, and estimates that its role in the governance of the UAEU and the Ljubljana Agreement could be strengthened. More


  • Business transfers (INT/982, Mira-Maria KONTKANEN – Employers, FI)

Some 450 000 firms, employing 2 million workers, change hands each year across Europe. For 150 000 of these, especially very small businesses, the transfer can be very risky, endangering some 600 000 jobs in the process. As Europe's population ages, the number of entrepreneurs planning to withdraw from business is getting even higher. Can policy help ensure safer business trasfers? In this opinion, the EESC suggests a series of measures that the EU and the Member States can take to help businesses go through the transition and find their way back to growth.More


  • The EU Youth Test (SOC/728, rapporteur Katrīna LEITĀNE – Civil Society Organisations Group, Latvia)

The EESC believes that a way must be found to include young people meaningfully in policy making in a way that is suited to them, and proposes a tool to ensure that their views have been taken into account when policy decisions are made. Called the "EU Youth Test", this tool would help monitor, evaluate and assess the impact of youth participation. It is not meant to substitute meaningful engagement with young people in general, but to complement existing participatory mechanisms. More

  • Decent work worldwide (SOC/727, Maria del Carmen BARRERA CHAMORRO – Workers, Spain)

This opinion presents the EESC's contribution to the European Commission's strategy to promote decent work not only within the EU but throughout the world. Decent work is still beyond reach for millions of workers across the globe. The Committee welcomes the Commission's specific initiative to promote decent work in all sectors and fields on the local and national level, within the EU and beyond, but underlines that the EU must use all its policies, both internal and external, to promote and ensure decent work worldwide. More

  • Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States  (SOC/737 , Rapporteur: Mariya MINCHEVA, Employers, BG)

In the EESC's view, the proposed guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States are appropriate as they address the most urgent issues in the labour market. However, in the increasingly uncertain geopolitical situation, it is necessary to ensure that there is a competitive base for sustainable investments and for Member States to work towards a truly integrated single market, helping SMEs to scale up. Social partners should have a strong role in designing and implementing employment, social and economic reforms and policies. More


  • Role of carbon removal technologies in decarbonising the European industry (CCMI/190, rapporteur Andrés Barceló Delgado– Employers, ES; co-rapporteur Monika Sitárová – CCMI Delegate, SK)

Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) systems play a key role in the technological efforts to mitigate emissions, particularly from heavy industries such as steel, chemicals and cement. Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies (CDRs), Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) will help the industry achieve climate neutrality. However, both political will and financial means are necessary to get the European demonstrations projects up and running.More