In 2021, the Belarusian regime led by Alyaksandr Lukashenka actively attracted migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other countries, encouraging and even forcing them to cross the UE borders. This resulted in a particular pressure on Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and was done in retaliation against the sanctions adopted by the EU in response to the regime rigging the national elections in 2020 and violently repressing civil society in 2021.
This initiative wants to call on the European Commission to provide more integrated strategies for specific economic sectors, coordinating the various policies fields to an ongoing transition of our European economy. To this end, we have chosen the furniture sector to exemplify challenges and opportunities regarding the sector's recovery and green transition to a sustainable and circular economy (bio-economy), its technological transformation, mainly driven by the digitalisation of industrial processes, and the sector's overall target of managing the climate change.
European Union statistics clearly show the enormous amounts of packaging materials currently used for the safety, hygiene, transportation, conservation, presentation and application of all kinds of goods – be they for industrial purposes, construction work, communication systems or individual consumption. Most of them are of carbonic or metallic origin, which are limited resources. A largely predominant part of the waste of these packaging materials can, and mostly do, have a negative environmental impact and may seriously endanger human health as well as animal and plant well-being. Material transformation and recycling for the reuse of the basic substances can only very partially reduce the many problems connected.
The Communication on 8th Report presents the main changes in territorial disparities over the past decade and how policies have affected these disparities. It highlights the potential of the green and digital transitions as new drivers of EU growth, but argues that without appropriate policy action new economic, social and territorial disparities may appear. It also launches a reflection on how cohesion policy should evolve to respond to these challenges and in particular how to ensure that place-based, multilevel and partnership led approaches continue to improve cohesion, while building on synergies and mainstreaming cohesion objectives into other policies and instruments.
EESC will present its views on this report stressing the important role that civil society plays and that local policies need local strategies, drawn up with local partners.
The EESC considers that it is necessary to add new own resources to cover the debt repayment resulting from borrowing under the NextGenerationEU initiative without jeopardising the budgets of other EU programmes and instruments, or substantially increasing the Gross National Income (GNI)-based resource contribution. Although the Commission proposals as set out in the communication are deemed necessary, EESC believes that the Commission should ensure that the design of the new system is based on achieving equity and fairness, efficiency, transparency, simplicity and stability, with a focus on competitiveness and applying solidarity where necessary.
Health and social services such as care, helping disadvantaged individuals and those with disabilities to break back into the labour market, childcare and social housing are fundamental when it comes to guaranteeing social cohesion in the ongoing period of post-pandemic recovery, humanitarian crisis and international tensions. European rules on state aid for these services are therefore fundamental.