At a time of increasing geopolitical rivalry and the steady erosion of the multilateral rules-based trading system, EU’s competitiveness has taken centre stage in the EU agenda.
Insularity is considered to be a permanent and unchangeable geographical feature which involves additional costs (transport, energy, waste management, public services, necessity goods and services) that hamper the development and competitiveness of the islands, while particularly exposing them to biodiversity loss and climate change. The organised civil society has an important role to play and tackle all these challenges and through this debate. The aim is to find the best practices and solutions so that EU islands can preform better and recover from the multiple crises.
Employer representatives from 27 countries are in Luleå to discuss the conditions for the green transition, sustainable growth and the EU's new competitiveness agenda on 19–20 June.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will be producing an own-initiative opinion on the main challenges faced by EU islands and mountainous and sparsely populated areas, which is scheduled for adoption at the EESC's September plenary session. In this context, the EESC, along with the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and the North Sweden European Office (NSEO), will be holding a public hearing in Umeå (Sweden) on 4 May 2023 entitled "Challenges and opportunities that the digital and energy transitions present to the northern sparsely populated areas and islands. How can these regions become drivers for growth and development?". The hearing is an event under the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU.
With this debate, the ECO section is providing ex-ante input to the European Commission, in preparation for the upcoming 2023 strategic foresight cycle that wants to shed light on the strategic decisions needed to ensure a socially and economically sustainable Europe with a stronger role in the world in the coming decades.
Emmanuel Macron introduced the French presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) by launching the idea of a new growth model. This new model should make it possible to create employment, reconcile economic development and climate ambition, respond to digital challenges and rely on a redesigned European financial framework.
GDP is the best-known measure of macro-economic activity. While it is used both by policy-makers around the world and in public debates, it was not designed to be a comprehensive measure of prosperity and well-being. Thus, other indicators are needed to assess and address the global challenges of the 21st century such as climate change, poverty, resource depletion and to promote health and a higher quality of life. Beyond GDP indicators should become instruments to not only monitor and measure, but also to inform policy development, improve communication and encourage target setting. Against this background, the Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is currently working on an own-initiative opinion on 'Beyond GDP measures for a successful recovery and a sustainable and resilient EU economy'.
Both a sustainable economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and the need to address effectively the climate change will require a massive expansion of investments. To achieve this, reshaping the EU fiscal rules is indispensable. Against this background, the Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is currently working on an own-initiative opinion on Reshaping the EU Fiscal Framework for a Sustainable Recovery and a Just Transition.
The Recovery and Resilience Facility is moving into its next phase, and the European Semester Group of the EESC is following the process. In this high-level conference we will discuss whether the national recovery and resilience plans will deliver as regards the aim of achieving fair, inclusive, competitive and sustainable growth and cohesion through the new growth strategy – the European Green Deal. Focus will be on the implementation of the national recovery and resilience plans, with particular attention on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the just transition towards a green, digital and sustainable European economy. The conclusions of this event will be forwarded to EU institutions and the "EU Recovery Summit" conference in Lisbon on 28 June 2021.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) played a central role in bringing the consensual views of organised civil society in the EU to the attention of policy-makers and contributing to the rapidly evolving economic policy response at European level.
In this regard, we believe that now is the time for the EU institutions to make decisive steps in approving swiftly the new Facility and putting in place the necessary implementation mechanisms at European and national level, so that the hardest hit Member States, citizens and businesses can benefit from the relevant EU funding when they need it most.