The EESC welcomes the Investment Plan for Europe for its contribution to the promotion of investment in the EU. The Committee calls for clearly set investment targets, regulatory simplification and further guidance in order to achieve greater geographical and sectoral balance. The EESC advocates for strengthened financial capacity for the InvestEU programme within the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and calls for more efforts to raise awareness among European businesses and citizens about the benefits obtained from the Investment Plan for Europe.
Opinions with Workers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
The objective of the opinion, requested by the Romanian Presidency, is to explore which measures and initiatives should be taken at EU and national level in order to promote organised philanthropy and eliminate barriers within the internal market that are hindering the realisation of its full potential, so as to maximize its contribution to EU values, such as cohesion, social justice and European Policies, and to the competitiveness of the European economy.
The opinion is expected to feed into the Romanian presidency programme and into the political priorities for the new Commission.
The opinion, requested by the Romanian Presidency, aims to look at possible ways through which people can acquire solid knowledge about the European Union, its foundations, procedures and actions, as well as its positive achievements and the concrete benefits it offers. This type of education would contribute towards building citizens' ownership over the European decision-making process and ensure that their vision, needs and priorities are adequately reflected in the European agenda at all levels.
The EESC takes careful note of the initiative's definition of disinformation as verifiably false or misleading information that is a threat to democracy and does public harm. Spreading disinformation has become a part of a hybrid war with a clear political aim. However, it also emphasises that, in addition to false information, highly selective information, defamation, scare-mongering and inciting hatred attack citizens' fundamental rights (freedoms) and minority rights.
Multiple actions from all stakeholders are needed to provide quality information and raise awareness. To this end, the EESC welcomes the initiative for coordinated action to protect the EU, its institutions and its citizens against disinformation. The EESC emphasises the urgency of such measures but is also concerned, however, that the impact of this action plan might be limited given that the May 2019 European elections are not far off.
The own-initiative opinion aims to analyse the link between current food systems and diet-related diseases; identify policies, tools and instruments that are needed to foster healthier diets both on the supply and demand side.
The EESC is of the opinion that building economic resilience, an objective that underlies the recommendations of the European Commission on the economic policy of the euro area, is of the utmost importance for the euro area economies. However, the Committee would like to stress that the pursuit of economic resilience should go hand in hand with increased labour market resilience, that is, the capacity of labour markets to weather shocks with limited social costs.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to speed up returns, but regrets that the recast was not supported by an impact assessment and/or public consultation on the existing Directive 2008/115/EC.
The EESC believes that an effective returns policy should be part of a truly common policy and legislation for legal migration and for asylum, which is currently missing, giving the impression that the EU adopts a purely security and policing-focused vision of migration as a criminal matter. Such a comprehensive common EU migration policy would also be the best answer to the extreme right-wing and nationalist discourse on migration.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to making the return procedure quicker and more efficient. Even so, consideration should be given to how realistic the proposed time-scales are and an assessment made of the obstacles that could frustrate this intention.
The EESC welcomes the Commission proposal on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online, while calling for the indeterminate legal concepts such as "terrorist information, terrorist acts, terrorist groups or advocacy of terrorism" to be defined as precisely as possible. The EESC highlights the need to assess the effects of the application of this proposal on SMEs, as well as to consider transition arrangements facilitating their adaptation and a level playing field.
The EESC points out that a non-immigration scenario in Europe would mean among other things that Member States' economies would suffer substantially; demographic challenges would be aggravated; pension systems might become unsustainable; racism and xenophobia would flourish even more than at present. Non-integration bears economic, socio-cultural and political risks and costs. Hence, investment in migrant integration is the best insurance policy against potential future costs, problems and tensions.