The EESC considers the intention to create ETIAS as a currently inevitable step corresponding to the threats caused by external and internal circumstances. ETIAS should be based on the right balance between risks and safety, at the same time avoiding increased administrative burdens and barriers for people travelling to the EU. The Committee stresses that ETIAS should fully respect the fundamental rights of applicants and avoid any discrimination. All data gathered by the system must be protected and access to it should be strictly limited. All applicants should be allowed to use the services of intermediaries to obtain the travel authorisation, if needed. However, the costs charged by these intermediaries for their services should be monitored and evaluated by EU delegations in the third countries.
Afacerile sociale - Related Opinions
In the context of the revision of the founding regulations of the three agencies EUROFOUND, CEDEFOP and EU-OSHA, the Committee expresses its views on general principles governing these bodies and puts forward specific comments for each agency. The EESC warmly welcomes the fact that the balanced, tripartite structure of the management board is to be maintained. The Committee considers that tripartism is the expression of an inclusive approach, which respects the importance of the role of the social partners in seeking joint solutions. The EESC believes that the overall objectives of the three agencies should be uniformly and more comprehensively defined as to "support the needs of all EU institutions and bodies, Member States and Social Partners".
The EESC advocates the creation of an integrated European fund to combat poverty and social exclusion, based on the experiences of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The current use of the ESF and the FEAD in the Member States should be monitored more effectively and the process should involve civil society organisations. Member States should make greater use of global grants and regranting, and treat in-kind contributions on an equal footing with financial contributions. A greater share of the resources allocated to operational programmes should be earmarked for projects with smaller budgets. The EESC is ready to develop – in cooperation with CSOs – a consultation platform to ensure better coordination of ESF and FEAD interventions and to enable discussion on the basic principles of a future integrated EU fund.
The EESC is pleased that the Maltese Presidency has chosen "High quality education for all" as an priority theme. However, the EESC fears that the value of this initiative could be lost when austerity measures still apply to many of our societies, hindering them to fully benefit from high quality education. Europe should not forget the essential role played by high quality education for all in building up a European society committed to upholding fundamental rights and values.
The EESC welcomes the New Skills Agenda for Europe. However, it wishes to see more innovative solutions in the fields of education and skills development, as Europe needs a genuine paradigm shift in the goals and functioning of the education sector. The EESC considers that helping individuals to acquire a minimum set of skills is not enough, and that it is crucial to ensure that a Skills Guarantee becomes a guaranteed pathway that enables people to advance and reach the highest achievable level of skills. The Committee calls for more focus on social and gender perspectives, non-formal and informal learning and entrepreneurship as a life skill. It also regrets the lack of new financing to back up the Agenda and encourages more dialogue with organised civil society.
The Committee supports the European Commission proposal for the creation of a Union Resettlement Framework and calls for a genuine common asylum policy that respects European values. It calls for the common criteria for resettlement to focus on people's need for protection, not on the third country's effective cooperation on asylum and it considers the "first country of asylum" and "safe third country" concepts to be open to question due to the current unsafe and unstable situation in the third countries and regions concerned. The Committee calls for the resettlement programme to be uncoupled from partnership agreements that aim to encourage third countries to prevent refugees from fleeing, as this carries the risk of infringing international law and fundamental rights.
The EESC adopted this opinion after in-depth work carried out during the four meetings of the study group. The opinion also reflects the national debates with civil society organisations carried out in all Member States between 2 September and 2 November 2016. These discussions were coordinated by three members of the EESC ('trios') from the country concerned, often in cooperation with the European Commission (15 debates) or the national economic and social council (7 debates). Participants came from a wide range of employers' and trade union organisations and other civil society organisations, as well as, to a lesser extent, from the academic world. A total of 116 EESC members and nearly 1,800 representatives of civil society organisations participated in the 28 debates. The conclusions/recommendations of the national debates have been grouped in the opinion, while the reports on the national debates will be published separately.
The opinion welcomes the revision of the Blue Card, since it makes the card more attractive as a way of entering the EU.
However, the Committee considers that Commission's proposal to replace parallel national schemes with a single EU-wide scheme goes too far, and prefers that Member States maintain their own routes for admitting highly qualified workers alongside the EU Blue Card.
The opinion agrees with the measures to facilitate granting of the card, but expresses scepticism about the application of lower salary thresholds.
Finally the opinion recalls that equal opportunities and non-discrimination must be guaranteed in the employing of third-county nationals and that close involvement of national and European social partners is needed in this field.
The EESC opinion on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive was adopted with 180 votes in favour, 84 against and 30 abstentions. A counter opinion on the same subject was put forward and not carried, receiving 94 for, 175 against and 23 abstentions.
In its opinion, the EESC supports in principle the Commission's proposed recast of the Posting of Workers Directive. The principle of equal pay for equal work in the same place is the cornerstone of the pillar of social rights in Europe.