Own-initiative opinion postponed to the autumn
The purpose of the own-initiative opinion is to contribute to the further development of the Better Regulation agenda and, as part of it, the Fit-For-Future Platform (the envisaged successor of the REFIT Platform) as foresight is to be integrated in the EU policy-making.
The partial paradigm shift inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has already impacted economies, businesses and consumers. The time has come to scale up, using the common sustainable practices already being implemented as a basis for taking these sustainable practices to the next level.
- The EESC welcomes the Commission's communications adopted in 2020 in connection with the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans and agrees that integrating the Western Balkan partners into the EU represents a geostrategic investment in the peace, stability, security and economic growth of the entire continent. The Western Balkans are an integral part of Europe and a geostrategic priority for the EU.
- The EESC welcomes the European Green Deal, which includes specific objectives for the Western Balkans, as well as the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans accompanying the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.
The EESC welcomes the new vision for the ERA agenda and is pleased that this is a real "New Deal" for the EU's research, technology and innovation.
The pandemic expedited the shift to teleworking, and it became essential in tackling the health crisis. Lessons learned from the pandemic could lead to regulations in the EU and in the Member States be amended and new regulations created so as to promote the positive aspects of telework and protect the fundamental rights of workers. The Member States, with the involvement of the social partners, need to ensure that there is an appropriate national framework for teleworking, setting out the rules of play for companies and workers interested in adopting this form of work.
On 9 September 2020, the European Commission adopted its first annual Strategic Foresight Report, presenting Commission’s strategy to integrate strategic foresight into EU policy-making. Strategic foresight aims to identify emerging challenges and opportunities to better steer the European Union's strategic choices and to inform major policy initiatives. It will support the Commission in designing future-proof policies and legislation that serves both the current needs and longer-term aspirations of European citizens.
Teleworking has the potential to support work-life balance and should be a means of promoting gender equality. For this, the burden of the unpaid care and domestic work performed by women must be fully shared with men. Then, the rules applying to the workplace must be applied to the home office, including on health and safety and protection against harassment and violence. As there is no consolidated European framework on telework, it is necessary to assess existing rules' effectiveness. Social partners should review the 2002 Framework Agreement on Telework and give it a new impetus.