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.
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.
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'.
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.
During it's meeting on 29 November 2019, the Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is organising a public debate "The Benefits of Gender Equality for the European Economy" with the aim to explore how policies aimed at achieving greater gender equality could help reinforce Europe's economic performance and what role the European civil society could play in supporting the development and implementation of these policies.
On 17th May 2016, a delegation of EESC Members of the "Transport, energy, infrastructures and information society" section went on mission to the Aegean islands (EL), with the objective to learn about the islands' production of energy.
On 27th June 2016, a delegation of EESC Members of the "Transport, energy, infrastructures and information society" section went on mission to the island of Saaremaa in Estonia, with the objective to evaluate the solutions developed to develop the economy and improve the wellbeing of the population.
On 20 May 2016, the EESC's TEN Section project delegation carried out a study visit in Lisbon to gain first-hand knowledge of some of the extremely interesting smart city projects that have been set up in the city.
The Lisbon region boasts a high concentration of companies involved in high-level technology and research, with approximately 333 000 companies headquartered in the region.
The delegation had the opportunity for a study visit to learn more about the Sharing Cities lighthouse project.
On 4th May 2016, a delegation of EESC Members of the "Transport, energy, infrastructures and information society" section is on mission to the island of Samsø (Denmark), with the objective to evaluate the islands' smart projects developed in the area of energy autonomy.