The purpose of the own-initiative opinion is to contribute to the further development of the Better Regulation agenda and, as part of it, the Fit-For-Future Platform (the envisaged successor of the REFIT Platform) as foresight is to be integrated in the EU policy-making.
The EESC agrees with the European Commission about the need to modernise and simplify EU consumer policy and considers that the new legislative package contributes to bridging the gap created by the exponential growth of e-commerce, undermining consumer confidence and causing distortions to the single market.
The EESC is of the view that the Better Regulation Agenda should become a permanent programme in delivering high-quality Union legislation without undermining key policy objectives or creating deregulation pressure.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has requested the Committee's views on whether the steps taken by the European Commission to enforce EU law have addressed European's concerns. The ECA would like to know which specific aspects of the monitoring of the application of the legislation in particular have caught the EESC's attention.
Impact assessments of any legislative proposals must be integrated and accorded due importance to the economic, social and environmental dimensions, including for SMEs. The Committee has called for the Parliament, the Council and the European Commission to agree on a common methodology on impact assessments and evaluations, which could also serve as a prompt for the Committee. It is extremely concerned by the findings on the shortcomings of social and environmental impact assessments and the follow-up to consultations. It calls on the Commission to be more transparent and to give fully documented reasons why a particular measure or proposal is or is not to be submitted for impact assessment and/or an ex-post analysis.
The Committee agrees in principle with the Commission's proposal.
The Mid-term evaluation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is one of the evaluations on which the Commission is consulting the EESC.
The CEF was proposed as a financing programme for the completion of trans-European infrastructure networks in the fields of transport, energy and information and communications technology (ICT).
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the opportunity to take part in the evaluation of the CEF programme. Transport, energy and ICT are also the core of the EESC Smart Islands Project. Therefore, the EESC's response is based on the above mentioned project, which analyses primary data collected through fact-finding missions taking place in the EU in the course of 2015 and 2016.
The EESC has played an important role in strengthening an informed civil society debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through a number of TTIP-related opinions, adopted in 2014 and 2015, covering issues such as labour rights, investment protection, impact on SMEs, among others.
It is important under the present circumstances that the EESC, in order to maintain its position as a key civil society player in the TTIP debate, react to the textual proposals for TTIP negotiations on essential topics such as the sustainable development chapter, regulatory cooperation, investment and services. This will have the advantage not only of setting up the EESC position on major negotiating chapters but also of presenting concrete recommendations and pointing out the need to involve civil society in the implementation of those chapters.