Opinions in the spotlight
This own-initiative opinion is a joint proposal of the two EESC bodies with a cross cutting and horizontal approach: the SDO and the Europe 2020 Steering Committee (SC).
The 2030 UN Agenda, or the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be one of the top global priorities over the next 15 years, yet it received very little mention in the Commission Communication "Trade for all". Trade is specifically mentioned with regard to nine SDGs (but only once in the MDGs). UNCTAD estimate that, to meet the 17 goals and the 169 targets, at least an extra US$2.5 trillion a year will need to be found - effectively from the private sector. This opinion would seek to look into this further and aim to evaluate how much of that will need to come through trade and investment.
This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. Against this background the Committee advocates the exploration of tools to improve economic governance in the EMU, for instance by creating a permanent Euro Finance Minister, while ensuring full democratic accountability. Bundling competences would enhance coherence of EMU policies.
In its opinion, the EESC acknowledges the positive role that apprenticeships can play in improving employability and providing for skills that are relevant to the labour market, for both young persons and adults. The Committee appreciates the fact that Member States are invited to promote the active involvement of social partners regarding apprenticeship schemes. Furthermore, the Committee also believes that apprentices themselves and other relevant stakeholders – such as youth and parent organisations and students' unions should also be actively involved. Also, the EESC considers that apprentices should be able to influence their learning experience, to create more productive learning experiences. The EESC also calls for initiatives that explore the potential of transnational mobility of apprentices in the EU.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - The Future of Food and Farming
Transport is a vital enabler of several SDGs. It contributes strongly to the SDGs regarding economic development, industry and SMEs, as well as trade and investment. Consequently, it also helps achieve the SDGs that aim to promote employment and well-being, and to reduce inequalities and exclusion. Meanwhile, transport presents many challenges with respect to the SDGs, such as the need to reduce climate and environmental impacts, to improve transport systems and traffic safety, and to manage concerns related to jobs and decent work.
The EESC calls on the Commission to prepare a new, integrated policy framework for the next generation of transport policy. Moreover, it calls on the Commission to assess the SDG indicators from the transport point of view and to enhance the development of indicators that are relevant, give a realistic and informative picture of developments, and are in line with the integrated approach.
The EESC welcomes the proposal for a regulation presented by the European Commission on a mechanism to resolve legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context. The proposal reflects a new approach and is likely to strengthen the opportunities for cooperation based on subsidiarity between different Member States, and to contribute to more balanced and sustainable socio-economic development of border regions and to the growth of EU GDP.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the fact that the European Commission has established a Digital Europe programme, which underscores the intention to make Europe a leading player in digitalisation and to increase its economic strength and competitiveness on the world stage. The aim of the Digital Europe programme is to enable a digital single market and to shape the digital transformation in a positive way for all citizens of Europe.
The EESC supports the intention of the Dutch Presidency of the Council to address poverty through integrated approaches and through cooperation between public and private stakeholders. However, to do so, Member States must be supported by a common European framework and best-practice actors by national anti-poverty strategies. The EU Council should reiterate the commitment made to meet Europe's poverty target by 2020.