2019 is the year we are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of a real and living partnership – the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Over the last decade this partnership has gone through its share of difficulties. Yet, it not only endured - it developed, matured and delivered beyond what we foresaw at the beginning.
Thus after 10 years of EaP policy, it is crucial to properly evaluate the achievements and aims and reflect on the next possible steps. It is important to ensure that EaP policy connects countries and people and covers a broad area of issues, including supporting civil society, pluralism and independent media, as well as ensuring gender equality and non-discrimination. As it is likely that the policy will change its course from a one-size-fits-all to a tailor-made approach, it will be crucial to ensure that those wanting to get closer to the EU have this opportunity, adapted to their ambitions and pace.
The EESC welcomes the proposal to use the passerelle clauses to establish a qualified majority in the Council and a co-decision system with the European Parliament. In this new set-up, the EESC could play an important role in supporting the trilogue and should be involved.
This opinion calls on the EU to develop a strategy to enhance continuous, learner-centred learning, with digitalisation and the deployment of trustworthy AI at its heart, and stresses the essential role of both public education and non-formal education to enhance inclusiveness and active citizenship. Such a strategy requires an increased allocation of EU funds and more cooperation between policymakers, education providers, social partners and other civil society organisations.
The EESC would like a vigorous SME-friendly initiative (Act Small First) to be implemented with a view to achieving this objective, and calls for the Think small first principle and the SME test to be evaluated. The goal here will be to make these tools more effective and to design SME-compatible legislation so that SMEs can develop within the single market on the basis of complete legal certainty...
With this opinion the EESC wishes to highlight the scale of Dieselgate and regrets that the Commission was not able to anticipate these events by means of effective measures from the outset. The EESC further considers that the solution put forward in this proposal should not be limited to dealing with an issue of form, without genuinely serving the applicants' interests. Lastly the EESC also fears that, by empowering the Commission to issue delegated acts under the terms it sets out, the proposal would undermine not only the effectiveness of the legislation but also the intentions of the legislator when establishing these delegated act.