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.
It is time to build the social pillar of the EMU within the framework of a social Europe, without which citizens' adhesion to the European project as a whole will remain at risk. The EESC recommends to launch a new European Social Action Programme with tangible measures to develop social governance and participatory ownership of the European project. The EESC would propose two new exploratory initiatives: - The issuance of European Social Bonds financed, owned, managed and supervised transparently by civil society stakeholders; - The setting-up of a European Education Network for Unemployed Workers.
The opinion of the EESC should consider different options and scenarios for post-2015 and develop proposals on how to involve civil society more extensively in the process.
The EESC supports the intention of the Dutch Presidency of the Council to address poverty through integrated approaches and through cooperation between public and private stakeholders. However, to do so, Member States must be supported by a common European framework and best-practice actors by national anti-poverty strategies. The EU Council should reiterate the commitment made to meet Europe's poverty target by 2020.
The nature of work and employment relationships is developing rapidly. The impact on the labour market and standards, economy, tax and social security systems and the living wage need to be assessed and grey areas in rights and protections addressed. The challenge is to encourage innovation and deliver positive outcomes for a sustainable and competitive social market economy. The EESC considers it a priority to develop social welfare models adapted to cover more flexible forms of employment. This should be given consideration in the development of the EU Pillar of Social Rights.
Homelessness is the fourth most common reason given for poverty in the EU. It causes major personal tragedies, and also has significant social implications. If the number of homeless people was reduced, social costs would also decrease, and with better social inclusion Europe would progress. The right to housing is enshrined in many countries' constitutions. Still, there is no single and consistent method of collecting data on homelessness and the social integration of homeless people remains a very complex and difficult process. This EESC opinion, which focuses on both the effects and the causes of this problem, proposes measures to address it.
The EESC advocates the creation of an integrated European fund to combat poverty and social exclusion, based on the experiences of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The current use of the ESF and the FEAD in the Member States should be monitored more effectively and the process should involve civil society organisations. Member States should make greater use of global grants and regranting, and treat in-kind contributions on an equal footing with financial contributions. A greater share of the resources allocated to operational programmes should be earmarked for projects with smaller budgets. The EESC is ready to develop – in cooperation with CSOs – a consultation platform to ensure better coordination of ESF and FEAD interventions and to enable discussion on the basic principles of a future integrated EU fund.