Taxation of enterprises that use digital technology is high on the political agenda. Goods are increasingly sold by including services provided over the internet. New business models are used and the need for a permanent establishment in a specific location is less pronounced than before. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has been working on this thematic over the last years and is currently drawing up an own-initiative opinion entitled ‘Taxation in the digitalised economy’. In this context the EESC organises a public hearing during which high-level participants will look at the digitalisation of the economy with a view to identifying possible solutions to the resulting taxation challenges – amongst others, on how to reform international taxation rights. The findings of the hearing will feed into the EESC opinion that will be adopted later in 2019.
A lot is already happening on the ground for the implementation of the SDGs – both as top-down goals with governments and institutions providing the driving force and as bottom-up initiatives by non-state actors and civil society. National and local sustainable development strategies, which are successfully involving civil society, were presented at one of a series of events on this topic at the EESC last week. However, an overarching European strategy, which would provide the coherence and guidance needed for the implementation of the SDGs at national and local level, is still missing.
Making European consumer legislation fit for the digital age should not mean forfeiting the high level of protection granted to consumers in Europe, stressed consumers organisations at the Consumer Summit in Brussels on 28 November. Business organisations, particularly SMEs, on the other hand, expressed concern for the burdens of a collective redress directive they saw as tailored to GAFAS and large multinationals.
At the fourth meeting, the Members of the Platform will discuss the state of play of the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and adopt reports on energy efficiency in Georgia and on climate change in Georgia. At the end of the meeting, a joint declaration will be issued.
Rudy De Leeuw, member of the EESC, rapporteur of the opinion on the European finance-climate pact voted in the plenary session in October 2018, affirmed during a meeting on 8 November with journalists that Europe needs to do more in terms of budget and investments to fight the climate change and its effects. But far from being a burden, this challenge has also a positive side: “The finance-climate pact is a necessity, but also an opportunity for Europe”.
At its last plenary session, held on 17 October 2018, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion aiming to improve the EU space programme’s outcomes and raise its profile. The EESC supports the EU’s efforts to remain a major independent space power, but calls for more investment in research, start-ups and business incubators as well as for a consistent application of the “European preference” principle. Clear emphasis should be placed on space mining research and the benefits that space activities could provide in terms of sustainable development.
In a recently adopted opinion, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs the European Commission’s legislative proposal constituting an enabling framework that allows the new financial instrument to be developed by the market, by creating a level playing field for SBBS. While voicing support for the introduction and testing of SBBS in the markets, the EESC urges the Commission to address a number of open questions in the proposal.
Luca Jahier, the president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), opened the high-level conference on Sustainable Development Goals and Initiatives for Sustainable Global Value Chains co-hosted by the EESC, the European Commission and the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands by stating that there is no alternative to a sustainable economy: “Europe must be sustainable or it will simply not be”. The conference gathered representatives of businesses, trade unions, NGOs and professional organisations from all across Europe, and the opening session also counted on the participation of Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands.
The Digital Europe programme put together by the Commission takes a step in the right direction by recognising the key role played by digital skills, but it could be more closely tied to social realities. In its opinion drawn up by Norbert Kluge and Ulrich Samm and adopted at the October plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs the Commission proposal and points out that digitalisation in Europe must be made inclusive: the “digital dividend” must be equally distributed through appropriate policy measures.
The new Commission proposal must go further, taking all available forms of transport into account. It should focus on intermodality in freight and passenger transport. In the opinion drafted by Giulia Barbucci and adopted at its October plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs the Third Mobility Package presented by the Commission but advocates a more ambitious project not limited to road transport.
Shortly after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 8 October urging countries to massively shift towards a new paradigm, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted an opinion arguing for a “finance-climate pact” to ensure the financing of the necessary transitions. With the EU budget for the period 2021/2027 about to be adopted, the EESC tables the most ambitious proposal among the EU institutions: 40% of the EU budget should be devoted to the fight against climate change and its consequences, be it environmental, economic or social.