The 2030 UN Agenda, or the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be one of the top global priorities over the next 15 years, yet it received very little mention in the Commission Communication "Trade for all". Trade is specifically mentioned with regard to nine SDGs (but only once in the MDGs). UNCTAD estimate that, to meet the 17 goals and the 169 targets, at least an extra US$2.5 trillion a year will need to be found - effectively from the private sector. This opinion would seek to look into this further and aim to evaluate how much of that will need to come through trade and investment.
Opinions in the spotlight
This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. Against this background the Committee advocates the exploration of tools to improve economic governance in the EMU, for instance by creating a permanent Euro Finance Minister, while ensuring full democratic accountability. Bundling competences would enhance coherence of EMU policies.
In its opinion, the EESC acknowledges the positive role that apprenticeships can play in improving employability and providing for skills that are relevant to the labour market, for both young persons and adults. The Committee appreciates the fact that Member States are invited to promote the active involvement of social partners regarding apprenticeship schemes. Furthermore, the Committee also believes that apprentices themselves and other relevant stakeholders – such as youth and parent organisations and students' unions should also be actively involved. Also, the EESC considers that apprentices should be able to influence their learning experience, to create more productive learning experiences. The EESC also calls for initiatives that explore the potential of transnational mobility of apprentices in the EU.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - The Future of Food and Farming
Transport is a vital enabler of several SDGs. It contributes strongly to the SDGs regarding economic development, industry and SMEs, as well as trade and investment. Consequently, it also helps achieve the SDGs that aim to promote employment and well-being, and to reduce inequalities and exclusion. Meanwhile, transport presents many challenges with respect to the SDGs, such as the need to reduce climate and environmental impacts, to improve transport systems and traffic safety, and to manage concerns related to jobs and decent work.
The EESC calls on the Commission to prepare a new, integrated policy framework for the next generation of transport policy. Moreover, it calls on the Commission to assess the SDG indicators from the transport point of view and to enhance the development of indicators that are relevant, give a realistic and informative picture of developments, and are in line with the integrated approach.
The EESC underlines European territorial cooperation (ETC) is a unique instrument of cohesion policy and one of the very few frameworks in which national, regional and local players from different Member States are systematically called upon to carry out joint measures and exchange practices and strategies.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the fact that the European Commission has established a Digital Europe programme, which underscores the intention to make Europe a leading player in digitalisation and to increase its economic strength and competitiveness on the world stage. The aim of the Digital Europe programme is to enable a digital single market and to shape the digital transformation in a positive way for all citizens of Europe.
The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits.
The EESC welcomes the "Action Plan on VAT", and calls for a definitive VAT system that is clear, consistent, robust and comprehensive, as well as proportionate and future-proof. The Committee welcomes the strong focus on closing the VAT gap and tackling the susceptibility of VAT to fraud. There should be results delivered without delay, including by improving cooperation between tax administrations. “Bona fide” enterprises should be protected and no new excessive measures should be imposed on them. The future system of reduced rates must combine flexibility and legal certainty, be transparent, and for the sake of simplicity the number of reduced rates and exemptions must be limited.