The Food and drink Industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the EU economy employing directly 4.25 million workers in the EU. It is a non-cyclical and resilient pillar with a strong presence in all member states. It processes 70% of EU agriculture produce and provides safe, quality and nutritious food to the benefit of European consumers, besides being the largest global exporter of food and drink products. The sector generates 7% of EU GDP and should be an important contributor to achieve the EU target set in the 2020 strategy of achieving the necessary expansion of the manufacturing sector that will make it a contributor of 20% of European GDP.
The Committee considers transparency essential as it is important for all parties, for the companies themselves, and for improving their image and boosting the trust of workers, consumers and investors. While the EESC recognises that most companies operating in the EU are indeed transparent and that investors and shareholders are increasingly paying attention to qualitative corporate social responsibility (CSR) indicators, it is important to focus simultaneously on both the effectiveness and scope of the information being filed and on its quality and veracity. The EESC believes that any further initiative on disclosure of information should include a common set of indicators and at the same time should take into consideration the nature of the company and the sector in which it is operating.
The EESC strongly endorses the Commission's initiative to extend the duration and increase the financing of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and welcomes the positive results of the first year and considers the SME "investment window" a success. The Committee recommend that EFSI 2.0 should aim for ever greater involvement of private capital; stresses the importance of keeping a market-driven emphasis, reinforcing the additionality of the EFSI and calls for a more balanced geographically coverage across the EU. The EESC also recommends bolstering the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) and the reinforcement of the social dimension of EFSI deployment. It is also in favour of using the EFSI to nurture the development of a shared industrial and dual technology base in the European defence sector. Finally, in the view of the Committee it is important to raise the visibility of EFSI funding.
This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. Europeans need more (and better) Europe, not less Europe, in order to overcome the political crisis in the EU. The basic principle of the EU budget must be to deliver European added value, achieving better outcomes than would be possible for uncoordinated national budgets acting individually. The EESC considers that it is not credible for the EU budget to continue to be less than 1% of EU-GNI.
The EESC supports the general principles of this program but believes it should also strengthen the support and advice to SMEs in consultation with all professional organizations. The Committee also considers that promoting access to finance and encouraging an entrepreneurial culture should be the core issues of this new regulation.
The EESC agrees with the European Commission about the need to modernise and simplify EU consumer policy and considers that the new legislative package contributes to bridging the gap created by the exponential growth of e-commerce, undermining consumer confidence and causing distortions to the single market.
On 7th February, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Economic and Social Committee turns to political leaders, the European civil society organisations which we represent, and all European citizens, with a call: the call for social and economic solidarity, which is urgently needed across Europe. 25 years ago, Europe was in turmoil: the aftermath of the Cold War; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany; the path of Eastern European countries to democracy, all shaped the zeitgeist. Yet, on this momentous day in 1992, the 12 nations of the European Communities signed this European Treaty, thus creating the European Union as we know it and its greatest achievement, the single currency. Today, the geo-political landscape ...