582nd Plenary session 25-26 October 2023

Dalli Helena, Evelyn Regner, EESC president Oliver Röpke

582nd plenary session, with the following guests and debates: 

  • 26 October, 10:45 - “Call for an EU Blue Deal – a comprehensive water strategy for Europe” with Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries; MEP Pernille Weiss, chair of the MEP Water Group; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, UN special rapporteur on the Right to water and  sanitation, and Mariana Mazzucato, co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of water.
  • 25 Oct, 15:00 - Gender equality as part of Gender Equality Week, with European Parliament vice-president Evelyn Regner, European commissioner Helena Dalli and Sarah E. Hendriks, deputy executive director for Policy, programme, civil Society and inter-governmental support, a.i., UN Women.

 

 

Highlights of the European Economic and Social Committee's October plenary:

    HOT ISSUES: WATER

    • A call for an EU Blue Deal (CCMI/209, rapporteurs Kinga JOÓ, Civil Society Organisations – HU; Florian MARIN, Workers – RO; Paul RÜBIG, Employers – AT; co-rapporteur Péter Olajos, CCMi Del - HU)

    Water scarcity is a pressing global issue affecting 2.2 billion people worldwide, with deep implications for economic and political stability. Europe has witnessed severe droughts, floods, heatwaves, and fires in recent years due to climate change. Recognizing the inadequacy of the current EU policy framework, the EESCcalls for a comprehensive “Blue Deal” to prioritise water issues on a European scale. The EESC’s recommendations seek to anticipate global challenges related to water scarcity, sustainable water management, the economics of water, and addressing water poverty and the investment gap. More

    SOCIAL

    • The impact of education on wages and labour productivity (SOC/769, rapporteur Linda Romele – Workers, LV)

    In this own-initiative opinion, the EESC points to the need for significant political efforts and systemic reforms in education and training, including for drafting sound skills strategies that best respond to the needs of the labour market. Employee training in workplace should be increased through improved EU and national initiatives, with incentives for employers to invest in such trainings. The role of digitalisation of vocational education and training (VET) should be further strengthened to better develop dual systems training people in basic, transversal and STEM skills. More

    • Digital skills and education package (SOC/774, rapporteurs Milena Angelova – Employers, BG; Tatjana Babrauskienė – Workers, LT; Justyna Kalina Ochędzan (Civil Society Organisations, PL)

    The EESC backs the commitment made by the Commission and the incoming Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU to ensure digital inclusion for all, highlighting the importance of lifelong learning and access to quality education throughout one's career and life. This should not exclude learners and teachers with disabilities or people from disadvantaged backgrounds, so as to help close the digital gap in society. Member States should be supported in launching large-scale information campaigns on digital learning opportunities for all, with funds provided for VET and adult learning. More

    • Update on the Anti-corruption legislative framework (SOC/776, rapporteur José Antonio Moreno Díaz – Workers, ES; co-rapporteur João Nabais – Civil Society Organisations, PT)

    The EESC welcomes the Commission's initiative on the fight against corruption and supports the proposed measures, which represent an effort to ensure systematisation in this area. However, it is of the opinion that the Commission should consider a broader legal basis than the one indicated for the directive. It suggests that  the proposal for an EU directive could be accompanied by a parallel regulatory framework addressing the Union legal order in a binding manner. The EESC also considers it necessary to establish a European Prosecutor specialised in corruption.

    ECONOMY

    • Environmental, social and governance ratings (ECO/623, rapporteur Krzysztof BALON – Civil Society Organisations,PL; co-rapporteur Andrea MONE – Workers, IT)

    The EESC responds to the Commission's ESG rating proposal, aiming to enhance reliability and support informed sustainable investments. Recommendations include quality standards to combat greenwashing, emphasis on double materiality, and clearer definitions to exclude non-commercial activities. More

    • Next generation of own resources (ECO/626, rapporteur Katrīna ZARIŅA – Employers,LV; co-rapporteur Philip VON BROCKDORFF – Workers, MT

    In this opinion the EESC advises on the European Commission's proposal for regulating the next generation of own resources for the EU budget. The EESC supports these efforts while stressing the importance of transparency, impact assessments and a broader societal discussion about EU own resources and fiscal capacity. More

    • Euro area economic policy 2023 - Additional considerations (ECO/619, rapporteur Manthos MAVROMMATIS – Employers, CY)

    In 2023, the euro area grappled with high inflation and the impact of war in Ukraine. The European Central Bank (ECB) played a key role in managing monetary policy. The EESC recommends targeting 2% inflation without excessive tightening, aligning Member States' fiscal policies with the ECB, and promoting cooperation to reduce inflation, support investment and make  more efficient use of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. More

    • Annual Sustainable Growth Survey 2023 - Additional considerations (ECO/620, rapporteur Konstantinos DIAMANTOUROS – Employers, EL)

    The ASGS is vital for coordinating policies among EU Member States. The EESC's second opinion on ASGS 2023 emphasises national income pacts, while raising concerns about eurozone banking supervision and changes to temporary state aid rules for EU industrial investments. There are also reservations about the impact on the internal market and a missed opportunity to propose a European Sovereignty Fund. More

    BUSINESS

    • Modern business responsibility/MSMEs (INT/1020, rapporteurs Milena Angelova – Employers, BG-I; Ferdinand WYCKMANS – Workers, BE; Rudolf KOLBE – Civil Society Organisations, AT)

    The opinion focuses on the advantages to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) of adopting the modern business responsibility approach and suggests tools and techniques that could be developed to assist MSMEs in embracing these principles. More

    CONSUMERS

    • Pharmaceutical package (INT/1030, rapporteur Martin Josef SCHAFFENRATH - Civil Society Organisations, AT)

    This opinion from the EESC covers the proposed revision of EU pharmaceuticals legislation. While acknowledging the role of the pharmaceuticals industry in driving a sustainable, innovative and competitive EU economy, the EESC places particular emphasis on the affordability and availability of medicines. One of the most significant elements of the opinion is the proposal for a special EU-level fund to ensure access to treatment for all patients in Europe suffering from rare diseases.More

    ENERGY

    • Individual and collective energy self-consumption as a factor in the fight for the green and energy transition, and for economic and social balance (TEN/801, rapporteur: Pierre Jean Coulon - Workers, FR)

    The EESC says that a genuinely people-centred debate on energy self-consumption and self-generation is imperative if we really want these trends to be a lever for promoting the green and energy transitions and economic and social balance. Local and regional authorities need to favour "extended collective" self-consumption projects. The societal dimension of self-generation and the fight against energy poverty are after all part of the equation. More

    SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    • EU and Agenda 2030: strengthening the implementation of the SDGs (NAT/903 rapporteur Maria NIKOLOPOULOU - Workers, ES; co-rapporteur Antje GERSTEIN - Employers, DE)

    Through this exploratory opinion the EESC urges the European Commission to adopt an integrated, long-term strategy to accelerate progress on the SDGs, addressing them collectively rather than separately. The commitment to the SDGs should extend beyond the current political term and even beyond 2030. Engagement of civil society, the public, private sectors, academia, youth and women's organizations is essential for SDG implementation. The EESC advocates for regular and structured dialogue involving these stakeholders in cooperation with the Commission. More