The EESC believes that AI and automation processes have enormous potential to improve European society in terms of innovation and positive transformation, but they also pose significant challenges, risks and concerns.
Opinions in the spotlight
The EESC considers the proposed European Investment Stabilisation Function (EISF) as a step towards closer euro area integration, and possibly an attempt to encourage non-euro Member States to join the single currency. However, the EESC is of the view that a well-crafted union-wide insurance scheme that acts as an automatic stabiliser amidst macroeconomic shocks would be more effective than the proposed EISF.
In its Opinion, the EESC draws attention to significant inefficiencies still existing in both the formulation and implementation of SME policies, warns against a bureaucratic approach still prevalent in EU policies and calls for a visible, coordinated and consistent horizontal policy for SMEs, based on a multiannual action plan. The EESC also proposes that the Commission assess whether the current definition of SMEs corresponds to their heterogeneity, sectoral dynamics, specific features and diversity during the last decade.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), as it fits in with general efforts to monitor the EU's external maritime borders much more effectively than in the past. However, it would once again stress that time is of the essence in implementing the proposed measures.
The Committee welcomes the proposal to expand the activities of EMSA; however, it has serious doubts as to whether EMSA has the human and financial resources to perform these additional activities properly.
The EESC is in favour of the Commission's proposal which introduces a new approach to safety rules, based on risk assessment and performance.The EESC also supports the proposal to give EASA greater responsibility for security, in cooperation and in agreement with the Member States.The successful implementation of these changes in working methods and culture require adequate resources and a transparent and inclusive approach.
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 Commission proposal for a Council Directive to improve double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms in the EU. Double taxation is one of the biggest tax obstacles to the Single Market. There is an urgent need for mechanisms ensuring that cases of double taxation are resolved more quickly and more decisively when they arise between Member States. Therefore it is urgent to implement this proposal.
The EESC supports the measures that the European Union has put in place to tackle all forms of tax fraud and takes the view that the reverse charge mechanism for collecting value added tax (VAT) may be a useful tool in countering carousel fraud and VAT evasion. However, the use of the reverse charge mechanism, which is a derogation from the established principles on VAT, must not be allowed to harm the internal market and it must be temporary and properly assessed by the Commission.
The Committee furthermore recommends focusing particular attention on the proportionality principle, as the cost of compliance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) related to introducing a reverse charge mechanism could be considerable.
Delivering on balanced economic growth and social progress should be the guiding principle for the debate on the social dimension of Europe. A clear road map for the implementation of European Pillar of Social Rights is advisable with clear assignment of tasks coupled with accountability. The social dimension debate is connected to the debate on deepening the EMU. Social policy has to be embedded in a different EU economic policy. A strong EU can shape globalisation and digitalisation to the benefit of all.