Since 2016, as requested by the Council, every second year the Commission publishes a report on the implementation of the existing macro-regional strategies (MRS). This is the fourth report, covering the period from mid-2020 to mid-2022. It assesses the state of play and progress on implementing the MRS and examines ways forward especially in the context of the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 crisis.
The opinion intends to contribute to the design of the EU regulation on critical raw materials and to its follow-up, and could influence the political and economic decisions to be taken at EU level in the new geopolitical context.
In 2021 the European Commission announced the revision of the Council Directive 2011/64/EU on the excise rules for tobacco. In the inception impact assessment, the EC stated that there are areas of weakness and ambiguity in the current legal arrangements which give rise to market distortions, legal uncertainty and can also hinder the detection and prevention of fraud. The review will ensure that the rules remain fit for the purpose and improve the proper functioning of the internal market, and a high level of health protection. The policy changes focus on:
In its 2023 Work Programme, the European Commission announced a proposal for a second basket of new own resources, building inter alia on the proposal for a single set of tax rules for doing business in Europe (BEFIT). The aim of these measures will be to ensure more diversified and resilient types of revenue and avoid undue cuts to Union programmes or excessive increases in Member State contributions, in view of repaying the grant component of the NextGenerationEU recovery plan.
In view of the upcoming proposal that will be published in the third quarter of 2023, the European Commission requested the European Economic and Social Committee to provide an exploratory opinion on this subject in order to feed into the preparation of the Commission proposal.
One of the main conclusions of the 8th Cohesion Report is that although cohesion and convergence among regions in the European Union has improved, there are still remaining gaps especially in less developed regions related with their territorial characteristics. EU islands, mountain areas and sparsely populated areas still face many challenges on their growth and income and disparities exist.
In these regions, there are still a lot of gaps in terms of employment and investment, social exclusion is evident and gender disparities have not diminished.
The directive adopted in 2011, is the fundamental EU legislative act addressing trafficking in human beings. It establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions; common provisions to strengthen victim's protection, assistance and support, as well as prevention; key actors to fight against the crime.