Connecting EU 2021 - Related Opinions
This opinion seeks to analyse the impact of the emergency measures aimed at limiting unemployment, supporting income and helping businesses, with a particular focus on the SURE instrument. The EESC considers SURE as a positive and innovative financial instrument which delivers on European solidarity to preserve jobs, provide income support to workers and support businesses, as well as a tool for integration and socio-economic resilience in the EU. It is proposed that a SURE observatory is set up for as long as the financial instrument is in operation, involving the social partners and other civil society organisations. The EESC also fully acknowledges the positive results of SURE highlighted in the Commission's report of March 2021 and endorses the proposal for its stabilisation in support of workers and businesses as a tool for the EU's integration and socio-economic resilience in times of crisis such as the current one.
This opinion, based on a referral by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, aims at presenting the key elements of sustainable quality work during and after recovery. The EESC considers quality of work as one of the fundamental components of quality of life. The principle of quality of work for quality of life must be followed, as this is a prerequisite for sustainable social development. The EESC therefore firmly believes that it should be given special attention in EU policies, as it must prevent the risks of inequality, poverty, social exclusion and unfair competition. The EESC notes that the Recovery and Resilience Facility does not directly address the components of quality work, and therefore calls on the Commission to supplement this part of the facility. Vulnerable groups, such as precarious and young workers, who have been hit hardest by the epidemic, should not be overlooked.
In this opinion, the EESC recalls that media freedom, including the safety and security of journalists, and media pluralism are cornerstones of liberal democracy. It therefore notes with regrets that the developments within the EU are alarming and calls for urgent steps by Member States and the EU, including through the use of the new general regime of budget conditionality. The EESC welcomes the broad range of reports and initiatives by the European Parliament and the Commission, including the Commission's plan for a "European Media Freedom Act". It also supports measures to increase the safety of journalists and underlines the necessity of a legal ban on Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). The EESC supports the idea of a European Agency to bolster media skills of EU citizens through educational programmes. It also proposes the creation of a fully independent European public service broadcaster.
In this opinion, the EESC underlines that the Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights should be based on concreteness and tangibility, with actions that are measurable and accompanied by monitoring frameworks jointly agreed among relevant stakeholders and encompassing the social, environmental, and economic criteria. The EESC acknowledges the diversity and the common basis of social models across the EU. Competitiveness and higher productivity based on skills and knowledge are a sound recipe for maintaining the well-being of European societies. The EESC further believes that greater efforts can be made at EU and Member State level in the area of combating poverty, in line with the first Sustainable Development Goal under the UN 2030 Agenda.
In this opinion the EESC:
- Welcomes Europe's Beating Cancer Plan as a milestone in the fight against cancer and calls for a concrete roadmap for its implementation, with performance indicators, realistic timeframes and close involvement of Social Partners (SP) and Civil Society Organisations (CSO).
- Considers important that the EU and Member States ensure the availability of igh-quality, accessible healthcare infrastructure and effective support systems for patients' physical and mental well-being.
- Asks for the negative consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in accessing to health services to be urgently addressed, recognising as well the supportive role SP and CSO can play in this area.
This opinion is the EESC's contribution to the implementation of the European Democracy Action Plan (EDAP) published by the European Commission in December 2020. The EESC welcomes the document, which it views as both positive and necessary, and recommends that the European Commission add to it a specific pillar for the involvement of civil society and social partners and the promotion of labour democracy. Indeed, the EESC regrets that the EDAP has failed to address the important role of the social contract, social dialogue and collective bargaining in reducing inequalities and encouraging Europeans to embrace democratic ideals. The EESC also believes that greater emphasis should be placed on civil dialogue, and it therefore reiterates its call for the creation of an annual Civil Society Forum on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law (SOC/627).