According to the EESC, the European manufacturing system can only make an effective and competitive transition to a cutting-edge digital and environmentally friendly economy when it is ready for significant investments in innovation. As the main job creators and providers, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) need particular support. The steps planned by the European Commission to facilitate better development of the manufacturing system should therefore be consistently based on real awareness of companies' – especially SMEs' – needs.
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The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) calls on the Commission to reflect in more depth on policy options that help both to reduce greenhouse gases and thus fight climate change and to maintain competitiveness. The goal must be to better protect and promote the EU's resource and energy-intensive industries (REII), otherwise Europe runs the risk of losing jobs to less clean economies and missing its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Originally associated with cryptocurrencies, blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) are in fact very versatile and can be usefully applied to the social economy. However, it is important to regulate them properly and gear them to benefits for all, allowing everyone to participate, says the EESC in a report tabled at its July plenary.
Farming can only be continued if our natural resources are preserved, warns EESC
The EU needs to put greater emphasis on short supply chains and agroecology in farming in order to preserve its agriculture and make it more resilient to new challenges, such as climate change. Agroecology is also a way to secure our food supply, make our food healthier and as such raise its value. Short supply chains will help smaller farms to increase their income and enliven rural areas.
Hearing at the EESC displayed a range of civil society and public initiatives fostering migrant inclusion.
The European Union should grasp the opportunity of the new political mandate and financial period to improve its economic policy coordination and governance. The European Semester should become the most important element of economic policy coordination and a multi-level and multi-actor governance approach should be implemented, says the European Economic and Social Committee. It suggests that an EESC competence centre for exchange of information could be established to address implementation concerns in relation to a future EU strategy.
So far, actions to boost the development of a circular economy in Europe have centred on production, getting industries to introduce circular business models and bring circular options to the market.
Farmers' contribution to food security and keeping rural areas alive needs to be better rewarded. Farm profitability and economic viability is a serious issue in the EU, where farmers' incomes on average amount to just 46.5% of those in other economic sectors.
At its plenary session in July, the European Economic and Social Committee presented proposals for the economic agenda of the upcoming legislative period (2019-2024) and recommended that they should form the basis of a new European economic strategy. The Committee's proposals seek to develop more resilient and sustainable EU economic policies within an improved governance framework for the Economic and Monetary Union.
At its plenary session on 18 July, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a debate with Conny Reuter, co-chair of the EESC's Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks.