The health, economic and social crisis of COVID-19 has intensified the severity of the affordable housing crisis that Member States have been facing for years, particularly for homeless people, overcrowded households, residents of working class neighbourhoods and seasonal workers and immigrants – victims of housing conditions that have directly affected the infection rate in society. Although housing policy remains the competence of the Member States, the shortage of decent and affordable housing in the European Union requires a European action plan on housing that includes a comprehensive set of measures, which are easy for people to understand, to help Member States, regions and cities in Europe to sustainably boost the supply of social and affordable housing and effectively combat homelessness.
The EESC recommends that the Commission encourage all decision-making authorities to: create the conditions for access to energy for all, reduce energy poverty, and gather qualitative and gender-specific data with appropriate indicators; strengthen and enforce existing legislation; provide for a targeted policy on gender equality in the energy sector.
On 5 February 2020, the European Commission published its Communication Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans, proposing a new methodology for candidate countries of the Western Balkans with the objective to render the accession process more coherent, respond to concerns of certain Member States expressed in October 2019 and enable the enlargement process to continue.
The EESC proposes launching a European pact to effectively combat tax fraud, evasion and avoidance and money laundering. The Committee calls on the European Commission to promote a political initiative involving national governments and the other European institutions in achieving this goal, fostering the consensus needed for this and involving civil society. Cooperation between Member States should be the main pillar of the pact. The Committee urges the European institutions and the Member States to provide the financial and human resources required for the effective implementation of existing European legislation and to agree on a commitment to adopt all necessary new legislative and administrative measures to effectively combat tax offences and bad practices, money laundering and the activities of tax havens. This requires permanent evaluation of the outcome of implementing each measure.
The EESC believes that the Communication on Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond should be a strategic policy tool for rethinking the EU sustainable model of tourism and transport and calls for a comprehensive package of measures.
- The common foundation of any EU political engagement leading to an equal development partnership with Africa shall be based on a multidimensional approach, articulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the respect of Universal Human Rights (UHRs) - including fundamental rights, the right to a healthy environment and the freedom to conduct a business.
- The EESC advocates promoting a decent life and good prospects, creating a middle class and supporting equal partnerships by strengthening sustainable social-liberal democratic structures in Africa.
- The EESC highlights that the EU strategy on Africa must focus on Development and welcomes the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
- The EESC reiterates the important role of organised civil society in the up-coming ACP-EU Partnership Agreement.
Securing sustainable access to raw materials, including metals, industrial minerals and construction raw materials, and particularly Critical Raw Materials (CRM), is of high importance for the EU economy. However, the EU is confronted with a number of technological and environmental challenges along the entire production value chain of primary and secondary raw materials.
Global supply chains (GSC) are key and complex in economic activities across the world and in global trade. Economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship are also contested by evidence of negative implications for working conditions as well as for sustainability in some supply chains.
The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled the serious downfalls related to highly fragmented and undiversified supply chains. It exposed the vulnerability of workers' health and safety, and it highlighted violations of human rights. Trade will have to play a key role in promoting a sustainable economic recovery. However, stronger instruments need to deliver on a socially and environmentally responsible business, trade and investment agenda.
GSC need to become more resilient, diversified and responsible, and ambitious actions need to ensure they contribute to a fairer economic and social model, based on sustainability and decent work.
Aviation is one of the sectors most badly affected by the Corona crisis and the EU Member States are willing to assist all economic sectors in the recovery process. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that global economic activities will regain pre-Corona levels in the near future. For this reason, the EESC calls upon the Commission to develop a comprehensive road map for the recovery of the entire European aviation sector; such an action plan should include dedicated resources to support all sub-sectors and their workforce.