This exploratory opinion, requested by the Lithuanian presidency, sheds light on the specific contribution that State-owned enterprises can make to the EU's competitiveness. It pinpoints the specific challenges that exist in this area for EU policy and the European institutions. As part of its consideration of the way in which public undertakings could contribute more to the EU's economic recovery and competitiveness, the Committee has addressed the issue of Europe's Services of General Economic Interest in a number of opinions. The EESC also raises the question of the economic activities of the EU's executive agencies, wondering if they are truly independent, while their tasks and responsibilities lead them to be directly involved in socio-economic activities.
The proposed measures of the services package aim to make it easier for services providers to navigate administrative formalities, helping Member States identify overly burdensome or outdated requirements on professionals operating domestically or across borders. Rather than amending existing EU rules in the services area, the Commission focuses on ensuring better application.
In July 2013, the EESC has adopted an Opinion on Industrial policy in which industrial policy was qualified as a Growth initiative with great potentials. Following up the Opinion it is suggested to discuss somewhat underestimated aspects of the on-going industrial cycle that are vital for future growth and jobs, entailing huge consequences for (manufacturing) industry. It is about the impact of services, digitalisation, ICT and new variations in the same framework - such as 3D printing and other applications (ICT-plus) - on the industrial processes. Services are an increasing part of the European economy, and creating more jobs than manufacturing. The ICT-industry itself is growing in Europe by 10% annually. Services and ICT-plus have huge socio-economic and political implications.
The directive on services in the Internal Market was designed to promote competitiveness, growth and employment in line with the Lisbon Strategy. It has, at the same time, triggered an intensive debate on the form to be taken by the freedom to provide services. The effects of the Directive on national labour markets, social conditions and consumer protection requirements remain a highly controversial issue.