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.
This Opinion was proposed to provide timely inputs to the evaluation the European Commission is carrying out to assess the impact of the EU-Colombia/Ecuador/Peru Trade Agreement. The purpose of the evaluation is to provide an evidence-based report assessing the impact of the implementation of the Agreement. The evaluation comes five years after the implementation of the Agreement with Colombia and Peru and two years after its implementation with Ecuador.
For the EESC, through this opinion, the evaluation is an opportunity to propose improvements along the lines repeatedly put forward by the European DAG, made up of the EESC and other European organisations, and to echo the great efforts made by civil society organisations to take part in the follow-up to the Agreement, presenting numerous observations, complaints and proposals to the authorities, especially to the Sub-committee on Trade and Sustainable Development.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's current efforts to analyse and possibly improve the performance of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC as part of its regulatory fitness and performance (REFIT) programme. The EESC consider that the Machinery Directive is a very important and successful instrument for European industry, and its basic approach must be left unchanged. While EESC agree some changes are needed, massive changes of the Machinery Directive, in particular to the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) in Annex I, would have a deep negative impact on the work of developing needed harmonised standards and must be avoided.
At the 2018 Euromed Summit, it was agreed that the next Information Report to be presented to the 2019 Summit of ESCs and Similar institutions will deal with the topic of the impact of digitalisation on SMEs in the Mediterranean area.
The integration of millions of young graduates into the job market each year constitutes a major challenge for the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) play a decisive role in the fight against youth unemployment as they are important drivers of job creation and provide 80% of employment in the region.
The Information Report lays out the results of visits to 12 Member states, seeking policy input from organised civil society to the Semester process. It describes how the consultation in the Member states is often inadequate and tries to remedy this by direct, on the ground-contacts between the involved parts of civil society and the European level. It also argues why this novel way of working is a success, which should therefore be continued beyond the 12 Member states examined so far.