The EESC calls on the authorities at all levels to engage in close cooperation with all the stakeholders with a view to drawing up a specific action plan on the future of European retail in the 21st century.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the package of regulations on the future multiannual financial framework includes the InvestEU proposal to strengthen investment activity in the EU, including long-term investment projects that are of high public interest, while also respecting the sustainable development criteria. In order to guarantee that this programme operates successfully, the Committee underlines the importance of the involvement of civil society organisations and social and economic partners. The EESC appreciates the European Commission's efforts to create an umbrella financial instrument by the InvestEU programme that will result in unified management, enhanced transparency and potential for synergies. The EESC appreciates the fact that, in addition to promoting sustainable infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research and innovation, the InvestEU programme also focuses on social investment and skills.
The EESC welcomes in principle the integration of five predecessor programmes (and of the European Statistical Programme, though that extends beyond the scope of the single market) and a number of budget headings into a single market programme, as it can be expected to produce synergies and improve cost efficiency. Due to steadily increasing volume of work in consumer protection policy EESC urges the Commission to further develop cooperation with consumer networks and organisations and to increase funding for consumer protection. It is also concerned that the negotiations on the EU financial framework could result in cuts and thus in a lower budget than in the past.
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.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's proposals in principle as a balanced compromise between the objectives of climate-neutral mobility, the innovation capacity of the European automotive industry and preserving quality jobs. In particular, the EESC considers the planned interim target for 2025 of a 15% reduction in emissions compared to 2021 to be very demanding as the required changes are to be made to combustion engines at the cutting edge of technology. Despite this, the EESC views the market development towards zero-emission vehicles and low-emissions vehicles and hybrids as an opportunity. Furthermore the EESC calls for a mid-term review for 2024 to include the state of play regarding the qualification and (re)training of staff as well as an updated analysis of the areas in which (additional) action is required.
The Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU has requested the EESC to prepare an exploratory opinion on how to best promote SMEs in Europe with a special focus on a horizontal legislative SME approach and respect of the SBA's "think small first".
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.
Since the launch of the Digital Single Market strategy in May 2015, the Commission has delivered on all key measures and presented 35 proposals in total. The Commission calls for swift co-legislative agreements and for all parties to ensure that the measures proposed are rapidly adopted and implemented to allow people and businesses in the EU to fully benefit from a functional Digital Single Market. With the DSM's results among the more tangible for EU citizens, the EESC is particularly interested in the impact on consumers.
With this package of measures the Commission continues to deliver on its Single Market Strategy – a roadmap to unlock the full potential of the Single Market. This will make it easier for people and companies to manage their paperwork online in their home country or when working, living or doing business in another EU country and it will help ensure that commonly agreed EU rules are respected.
A number of topical industrial developments and trends are currently at the focus of attention. At the same time it should be recognised that people must live everywhere in Europe, including in many regions that these innovative trends are not likely to reach even in the next 50 years. Without undermining their importance and while supporting the political efforts promoting these trends, it is necessary to recall that these businesses are the key element in the creation of new activity and value in resource-constrained areas and are crucial to enhancing economic prosperity and cohesion across Europe. Against this background, the main objective of the opinion is to identify and analyse the particular challenges these businesses face and find solutions and possibilities to support them.