This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament to feed into a mission to Tallinn, Estonia, on "Digitalisation and the women's role", organised by the EP's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) on 19-21 September 2018. The opinion looks into the digital gender gap in education system and the labour market. It analyses the reasons behind this phenomenon it and makes proposals on how to increase the participation of girls in STEM and ICT studies and boost the presence of women in the digital sector. It also looks into the pros and cons of digitalisation and its impact on women's life-work balance.
Opinions with Workers' Group members as rapporteur/co-rapporteur/rapporteur-general
The Committee considers that the Commission's proposal for setting up a European Labour Authority (ELA) is, if adequately implemented, an important step in the right direction towards improving cross-border mobility, enforcing European and national legislation, fostering cooperation between national labour market authorities and improving access to adequate and up-to-date information, tackling illegal activities and strengthening the internal market, provided that the ELA respects national and European competences and the Member States demonstrate their support and cooperation.
The Commission's initiative follows one of the recommendations of the Agricultural Markets Task Force that the EU should legislate in the areas of UTPs for agricultural products, and responds to some of the conclusions of the 2016 EESC opinion on "A fairer food supply chain".
The EESC flags up the potential of AI and would like to give its input to efforts to lay the groundwork for the social transformations which will go hand in hand with the rise of AI and robotics.
The EESC supports the proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. A proper coverage of workers in non-standard forms of work and the self-employed would be in line with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Access to social protection systems is key for fairer societies. The main outcomes would be: increasing the mutualisation of risk, income security, labour market dynamism, higher productivity, better allocation of resources, and reducing insecurity and poverty for individuals.
The EESC supports the Commission's Fin Tech Action Plan and considers that the development of FinTech can deliver a number of benefits to both European businesses and their clients. Measures included in the action plan on improving cyber security and the resilience of the financial sector are important, but should be supplemented by rules to ensure uniformity in the development of FinTech in the EU. Similarly, the Committee believes that the level of regulation for FinTech should be equivalent to that in the financial sector.
The EESC calls on the Commission to identify possible rules for companies offering cloud services with regard to their responsibility for securing the data they host.
The digitalised world of work will necessitate proper transition management – not only from the side of enterprises, but also from that of human capital.
On the one hand, enterprises have to identify and assess the new needs and draw up and implement plans for controlling the risks and reducing the costs of the transition; employees, on the other hand, should be provided with appropriate guidance and training, so that they can adapt to the new reality and be able to seize the opportunities offered and thrive.
Another aspect to be taken into consideration in the digitalised world of work is the use of data. Thanks to digital technologies and data, the evolution of trends is better understood and targeted support can be proposed to individuals; yet the use of these digital data should be regulated.
The opinion will build on the work already carried out by the Committee on the future of work.
The EESC welcomes the Commission’s proposals and recommends that they be swiftly adopted and implemented by the Member States. The Committee agrees with the Commission's proposal to allow Member States to use two reduced VAT rates and recommends that the Member States continue to apply reduced rates to certain classes of goods and services of general interest.