10 July 2012
Cyprus EU presidency tops the agenda as EESC members gather for the plenary session
The future of the EU defence industry, the posting of workers and the maritime labour convention are some of the issues to be discussed at the next European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) plenary session, scheduled to take place on 11 and 12 July. The plenary session will also see two debates, one on the Cyprus EU presidency, attended by the Cyprus Deputy Minister for European Affairs, Andreas D. Mavroyiannis, the other on the outcome of the Rio conference, attended by Commissioner Potočnik and other stakeholders.
Venue: Charlemagne building, second floor, De Gasperi room -Brussels
Start: Wednesday, 11 July
2.00 p.m. Press briefing with Minister Mavroyiannis
2.30 p.m. Plenary session
You can follow the plenary session live on:
Opinions in the spotlight:
Defence industry: is Europe lagging behind?
While defence budgets across the European Union are being cut, defence spending in China, India, Brazil, Russia and others is increasing. The EESC will emphasise that, should Europe wish to maintain a sound security and defence industry, Member States need to coordinate their defence budgets, avoid overlaps and reinforce joint research programmes.
Adequate, safe and sustainable pensions
The EESC opinion on the White Paper on pensions is critical of the Commission document, which does not provide solutions for strengthening public pensions. Current moves by EU countries, cutting expenditure on pensions, could pose long-term social risks as they may expose many pensioners to the risk of poverty. The Committee makes a number of proposals to improve the EC White Paper, including a recommendation that minimum pension standards and pension income protection mechanisms should be incorporated into future legislation to protect pensioners and avoid major social problems.
European Social Fund to support youth employment
The Committee notes that the EU's austerity policy undermined the Youth on the move initiative and could also jeopardise the success of this new proposal. The Youth Opportunities initiative - with its focus on young people who are not in employment, education or training - may well generate new opportunities but will not create any new jobs without adequate economic and financial support. That is why the Committee suggests the adoption of a European Youth Employment Strategy to ensure availability of resources for young people under the European Social Fund.
Posting of workers
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for an enforcement directive on the posting of workers, stressing the importance of guaranteeing the protection of posted workers, respecting the various labour market models in the Member States and discouraging social dumping and unfair competition. The Committee's opinion encourages the Commission to provide a more precise definition of joint and several liabilities in subcontracting in order to provide protection for workers, with due respect for the companies involved. The framing and implementation of this directive must be pursued in close collaboration with social partners.
Maritime labour convention/Flag State and port State responsibilities
The EESC is expected to push EU countries towards quick ratification and to support new EU legislation for the implementation of the convention. This is essential to ensuring fair competition. In a bid to enforce social rules, the EESC is likely to call for an increase in the number of inspectors and task the European Commission with greater powers of control.
In its efforts to put an end to the irresponsible scrapping of vessels on beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the Committee's opinion on ship recycling will call for a "recycling fund" to be set up, to which every ship docking in Europe would contribute. Money raised would be used to improve working conditions in South-East Asia, to develop infrastructure and to boost recycling capacity in Europe.
More funding for the Europe for Citizens programme
The EESC strongly supports the Europe for Citizens programme and its key elements of encouraging and facilitating the active participation of citizens in political and public life. Nevertheless, it expresses some criticism and suggests several improvements to the Commission's proposal to make it more easily accessible for citizens' organisations. One key suggestion: an appropriate funding package to achieve its ambitious objectives.
The role of women in agriculture and rural areas
Women's potential in agriculture and rural areas is insufficiently supported. The EESC wants to promote the central role of women in farming economies. Women must have direct access to funds, ICT, training and to efficient and flexible services, while being fully recognised as workers and covered under healthcare and pension systems.
The feasibility of stability bonds
The EESC believes that in order to avoid a prolonged recession, Europe must combine solidarity and trust in order to foster fiscal responsibility, integration and long-term creditworthiness. The EESC advocates the partial substitution by Stability Bond issuance of national issuance, with several but not joint guarantees.
The EU-Colombia and EU-Peru trade agreements
The EESC considers that the trade agreement with Colombia and Peru requested by these two countries could be a useful instrument for the stakeholders concerned. However, the part played by civil society in negotiations needs to be strengthened. Therefore, the Committee proposes setting up a Joint Consultative Committee made up of representatives from European, Peruvian and Colombian civil society, with a consultative role in areas affecting human rights, sustainable development and the assessment of the sectoral impact of the trade agreements.
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