At a time when major global players have initiated a trade war and protectionism is back in many parts of the world, the European Commission is promoting the establishment of a multilateral court for the settlement of investment disputes. In relation to this initiative, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) calls for fundamental questions on scope, protection of public interest, accessibility and relations with domestic courts to be addressed.
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An EESC visit to Poland finds the country increasingly divided and its civil society hampered in the exercise of fundamental freedoms
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) fully supports the Commission's proposal on decommissioning nuclear facilities and managing radioactive waste. However, the Committee recommends adopting a more sustainable approach and closer monitoring of activities in sensitive areas such as the protection of workers from radiation. Involvement of civil society in the monitoring process is central. The social and economic consequences should also be assessed.
Clean energy is a top priority and fusion technologies could provide a long-term solution. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) emphasises the great potential of nuclear fusion for achieving clean energy and believes that the Commission should link the ITER project more closely to the European fusion research organised by the EUROfusion consortium.
The 2021-2025 Euratom research and training programme is hugely important, says the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and budget allocated in the Commission proposal is proportionate to its objectives and should be maintained regardless of Brexit. Investing in education and training is a central factor in attracting young people to research and technology careers.
Representatives of civil society bodies discussed in Brussels the current situation of Montenegro's EU accession negotiation at the 12th meeting of the EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC). All the participants welcomed in a final joint declaration the accelerated growth of Montenegro's economy in 2018, as well as the fall of unemployment.
The EU is the crucial actor in coordinating and financing the national and regional fight against climate change. It supports bottom-up climate action globally but there is much more that it could be doing in Europe. The EESC says clearly that without action by citizens, communities, municipalities, businesses and other groups of civil society we will simply not be able to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In order to be able to implement smaller and micro projects, which are key to reaching these goals, it is critical to facilitate access to finance.
Active involvement of civil society is crucial, says EESC
As the Commission is getting ready to publish the second edition of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) next year, the EESC highlights that poor, fragmented and uneven implementation of the EU environmental legislation is a serious problem in many EU Member States. Current shortcomings in implementation of EU environment protection measures are undermining people's trust in the effectiveness of EU legislation. Ensuring proper implementation of the EU's environmental law must therefore become a priority for the EU and Member States, e.g. through adequate financing and stronger involvement of civil society.
A lot is already happening on the ground for the implementation of the SDGs – both as top-down goals with governments and institutions providing the driving force and as bottom-up initiatives by non-state actors and civil society. National and local sustainable development strategies, which are successfully involving civil society, were presented at one of a series of events on this topic at the EESC last week. However, an overarching European strategy, which would provide the coherence and guidance needed for the implementation of the SDGs at national and local level, is still missing.
Although industry 4.0 is still a relatively new concept, many experts are already announcing a fifth industrial revolution that will bring about a new paradigm of cooperation and interaction between humans and machines. This is one of the main conclusions of the conference on industry 5.0 organised by the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 22 November.