While the recovery after COVID-19 crisis is a top priority, the EESC stresses that this should not steer the EU away from its medium and long-term objectives, as outlined in the European Green Deal, 2020 Sustainable Growth Strategy, and the European Pillar for Social Rights. There is a need for a resilient, technology-driven European economy that is defined by the protection of the environment. The EESC underlines that strategies aimed at enhanced economic sustainability need to be developed around productivity, but they cannot be allowed to happen at the expense of workers' rights and social development. The EESC advocates for re-thinking supply chains, underlines that social aspects should be emphasised, start-ups should be encouraged and that the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth in the EU should be the creation and development of a truly circular economy. Open dialogue with social partners and civil society remains key to setting the economic direction.
The EESC welcomes the determination of the new European Commission to enhance the Union's technological sovereignty, and stress the importance of the security sector in this respect. There is no security without technology, and Europe must master the technologies that are crucial for its security.
The Commission's new Circular Economy Action Plan focuses on sustainable products, less waste, product value chains, and circularity in regions and cities, and the global level.
The European Union and its Member States must stand united to protect their sovereignty. The EESC firmly believes that if Europe is to maintain its leading role in the world, it needs a strong, competitive industrial base. The EESC recognises the crucial importance of shifting to a carbon-neutral economy and of reversing the current curve of biodiversity collapse. Without a green industrial strategy as a cornerstone of the Green Deal, the EU will never succeed in reaching a carbon-neutral economy within one generation. The new industrial strategy must ensure the right balance between supporting European businesses, respecting our 2050 climate neutrality objective and providing consumers with incentives to shift consumption to sustainable goods and services .
The Covid-19 impact is having a profound and unprecedented impact and Europe needs to respond with a strong, social, sustainable and inclusive EU Recovery Plan that will support companies and people. The upcoming early EU Trade Strategy review needs to draw important lessons from this crisis. The EU is not self-sufficient and depends on access to international markets. It needs resilient, diversified and responsible Global supply chains. Stronger instruments need to deliver on a sustainable trade and investment agenda in all its dimensions. It needs to be consistent with the Green Deal and show equal ambition on the effective implementation and enforcement of labour provisions. European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recommendations made in a series of recent and ongoing key opinions on EU trade must inform this strategy review.
The EESC congratulates the Commission's for its strategy to encourage the uptake of AI technologies while also ensuring their compliance with European ethical norms, legal requirements and social values.
In this opinion the EESC makes the following points:
1. The EU and Member States should ensure that the gender perspective is fully integrated in COVID-19 recovery measures.
2. Gender equality should be fully taken into account in the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
3. The Gender Equality Strategy should be coordinated involving all Member States, social partners and civil society organisations.
4. To put an end to the gender pay gap (16%), binding measures on gender pay transparency are unavoidable.
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The opinion will provide guidance on how to build on existing structures like citizens' dialogues and assemblies, social dialogue committees in order to structure and mainstream the dialogue with civil society. It will also make recommendations about how to encourage information sharing and public understanding of climate action; how to create real and virtual spaces for exchange on climate and how to build capacity to facilitate grassroots initiatives, among others.