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 EESC strongly rejects the Commission's proposal to cut the EU's budget by 10% in real terms and urges the Member States (MS) to find solutions that allow this budget to be kept at the same level as the 2014-2020 programming period.
The majority of road accidents are down to human error alone, so a comprehensive approach to road safety is needed. It should cover driver behaviour, the working conditions and skills of professional drivers, and infrastructure.
The EESC welcomes the CEF's support for clean, low-carbon transport and sustainable energy structures, as well as the attention given to energy vulnerability. However, the Committee would like to see more financial resources allocated to the CEF.
It will be possible to meet the expectations of city "users" – inhabitants, businesses, visitors and administrators – thanks to digital service ecosystems overlaying high-quality material and immaterial enabling infrastructure. Establishing this infrastructure will also have a significant impact in terms of growth, employment and productivity.
- The EESC welcomes the Communication from the Commission confirming the importance of Internet connectivity for the Digital Single Market and the need for Europe to deploy now the networks for its digital future.
- The EESC notes that the Strategic Objectives for 2025 are ambitious but realistic, although they are largely dependent on national funding (private and public). There is a particular need for public investments to cover all remotes areas and guarantee minimum digital access for the vulnerable members of our society.
- The EESC agrees with the proposal to introduce a voucher system for small communities and SMEs and supports the free "WIFI4EU" initiative for all Europeans in public places, public administrations, libraries and hospitals as well as outdoor spaces even. It recommends following eIDAS digital identity, which offers guarantees for data protection and public security against.
Following the Baltic, Danube and Adriatic Ionian Regions, the Alpine space was the fourth to adopt its macro-regional strategy on 28 July 2015. The EESC welcomes the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region and sees it as an element of value added for the Alpine area as well as a driver for development that can nurture the competitiveness and cohesion of Europe as a whole.