The proposed opinion will look at new approaches to more fairly distributing the burden of transformation towards a sustainable Europe.
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Gender equality is not only a human rights issue; it is a social and economic necessity for the EU, its Member States and businesses, as it hugely impacts on sustainable growth and GDP, while allowing to use the potential of 51% of the EU population. The EU needs to elevate gender equality to a stand-alone goal with a binding strategy, centred in the following measures:
fighting the economic inequality affecting women and the current backlash of their rights; ratifying and implementing the Istanbul Convention on all forms of violence against women (including harassment); addressing once and for all gendered stereotypes, namely through the media; and supporting civil society organisations working for greater gender equality.
EESC opinion: Gender equality issues (own initiative opinion)
According to Eurostat forecasts (2015), over the coming decades, Europe’s population will grow slowly from 507 million people in 2013 to 526 million in 2035. This will be accompanied by substantial ageing: the section of the population aged 65+ should increase from 18% to 28%. And by 2060 the 65+ age group will number 149 million.
The exploratory opinion will aim to show how to boost social economy enterprises. It will seek to identify the best ways to strengthen their role in addressing tomorrow's challenges, in particular in the social field.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's strong message on reinforcing the Single Market and the need for commitment from all Member States and citizens. The EESC calls for a Single Market that must be perceived as an opportunity to reassert European values, fundamental rights and duties to achieve progress and welfare for all Member States and citizens. Values like liberty, economic growth, democracy, peace, science and innovation, political stability, consumers and social rights must be present in citizens' mindset as a result of a process that started 60 years ago.
The EESC welcomes the coordinated plan and calls for urgency in its implementation. To succeed in global competition, the EU must be at the forefront in innovation and investment, following the principle of "human in command" and trustworthiness of AI.
The opinion will reflect on the introduction of a new concept into EU law: "low-profit". This concept would define all organisations that are likely to make a profit but that do not intend to distribute it to their owners or shareholders, as they have a different purpose. This new concept of "low-profit" would thus be able to cover all enterprises that lie between those that do not make any profit ("non-profit") and those that aim to make the maximum profit so as to be able to pass it on ("for-profit").
The revision of the energy performance in buildings directive will have a significant impact on economic activities in the construction sector by increasing the average rate of annual renovation and through the implementation of long term renovation strategies in Members States. This will have a positive impact on employment and open the opportunity to acquire new and additional skills and qualifications in order to ensure sustainable quality employment and competitiveness of the construction sector.
The EESC is currently drafting an opinion that aims to define what "the sustainable economy we need" should look like by exploring new economic models, investment decisions vis-à-vis technological advances as well as novel indicators for growth and competitiveness.