Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires more than political commitment, says the European Economic and Social Committee. Increased investment, especially by the private sector, is needed to address current economic, social and environmental challenges. The Committee therefore advises the EU and its Member States to adjust their investment and tax policies to enhance growth prospects, and thereby private sector contributions, to accomplishing the SDGs.
The EESC draws forward-looking conclusions from the 2019 Semester and the Committee's civil society consultations in the Member States
Having SME policy as a horizontal priority is an indispensable way to address numerous, cross-cutting challenges that they are currently facing. Current trends cause bigger challenges for SMEs than for bigger companies. Therefore, it is high time for policy makers to act upon it. This was discussed at the conference "Placing European SMEs at a horizontal priority in post-2020 policy making process". The conference took place on 24 October 2019 in Chania, Greece and was organised by the Employers' Group, Chania's Traders Association and the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
At its plenary session in July, the European Economic and Social Committee presented proposals for the economic agenda of the upcoming legislative period (2019-2024) and recommended that they should form the basis of a new European economic strategy. The Committee's proposals seek to develop more resilient and sustainable EU economic policies within an improved governance framework for the Economic and Monetary Union.
Change management, better communication on scientific evidence and, above all, civil engagement are key factors for the development and implementation of new indicators to measure people's well-being and societies' progress. This was the main message of a public debate that was held on 4 June by the European Economic and Social Committee and its Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion.
On 6 May 2019 the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) organised in its headquarters at Place du Congrès in Brussels a day of debates which focused on analysing the reform process of the Economic and Monetary Union, the various positions of the Member States' governments and some social actors, as well as the possible way forward from a situation that was qualified as a "blockage of the main reforms". In the six round tables that structured the debate, a total of 26 people participated, including keynote speakers, speakers and moderators. All of them were academics or officials of the European institutions.
Building up a more sustainable and resilient European economy and completing Economic and Monetary Union should be priorities for the next European Commission and European Parliament: these points emerged from a public hearing held by the European Economic and Social Committee on 12 April 2019.
The member states of the European Union must strengthen stakeholder involvement in their efforts to reform national economies. Together with a new long-term EU strategy for sustainable development, improved stakeholder involvement could help create a more efficient and inclusive European semester that enjoys the support of society and is prepared to tackle the challenges facing the EU.
The EESC draws mixed conclusions from the European Commission's growth survey
Statement of the President of the Employers' Group
On 20 February 2019 the EESC adopted an opinion calling for an EU framework directive on minimum income. The Employers' Group fully shares the view of the EESC that fighting against poverty is a necessity. However, for us the instrument proposed in the opinion is not the correct one. For this reason, the Group tabled a counter-opinion, presenting its views on measures needed to reduce poverty. The counter opinion was supported by almost 40% of the EESC Members.