Secção Especializada de Emprego, Assuntos Sociais e Cidadania (SOC) - Related Opinions
The EU's demographic situation requires a holistic approach that embraces social and economic policies, active labour market and cohesion policies, policies supporting families, measures for ageing workers etc. The best answer to the labour drain related to internal migration is the social and economic upward convergence of Member States. The COVID-19 crisis will strongly affect the policies on demographic challenges. We need urgent measures to protect citizens from the negative effects of this crisis.
The opinion presents the EESC's proposal for the new European Disability strategy 2020-2030, at a crucial moment in the EU landscape. With a new European Commission, a new European Parliament and a new budget programming period, the timing is perfect to come up with a Disability Strategy that fully takes into account the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD), the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The opinion tackles various policy areas, drawing attention to the crosscutting character of disability rights.
Against a background of rising poverty levels during the crisis, levels that remain high in many Member States, in particular among the unemployed, this own-initiative opinion would address the huge differences in levels of protection under national unemployment insurance systems within the EU.
Possible standards in this respect could be:
- a minimum standard for the net replacement rate of unemployment benefits;
- a minimum standard of coverage ratio of unemployed people receiving unemployment payments;
- a minimum standard for the duration of unemployment benefit entitlement;
- a right to (re)qualification and training
With the objective of promoting upward social convergence within the EU, the proposal for such standards is a concrete step towards effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights recently announced by the EU institutions in Gothenburg.
The EESC echoes the European Parliament's call to phase out all investor schemes and recommends that until then certain mitigation measures are put in place. Member States should be urged to apply a due diligence process without specific duration restrictions and adapted to the high-risk profile of applicants. A coordination mechanism should allow Member States to exchange information on successful and rejected applications for citizenship and residence permits. All agents and intermediaries providing services to applicants should be subject to anti-money-laundering rules as set out in the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The EU should encourage all agents providing services to applicants to be accredited and subject to a code of conduct. Authorities should maintain primary responsibility for accepting or rejecting applicants. Authorities must also maintain a set of measures to avoid conflicts of interest or bribery risks.
The Commission launched a debate on an enhanced use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in social policy to render decision-making more flexible and efficient. The EESC supports the transition to QMV in the areas of non-discrimination, social security and protection of workers, as well as for employment conditions of third-country nationals.
In this opinion, the EESC notes that the measures taken by the EU Member States to address the challenge of an ageing workforce remain isolated and their impact has not been gauged. Therefore, the EESC highlights the need for comprehensive strategies, to deal with the demographic and employment challenges in a holistically manner.
The Committee also issues concrete recommendations to encourage longer active working lives.