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12 November 2012
Participatory democracy in the EU and the banking union up for discussion at this week's European Economic and Social Committee plenary session
The plenary session on 14-15 November will kick off with a debate on the prospects for participatory democracy in Europe featuring Isabelle Durant, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Jean-Marc Roirant, President of the European Civic Forum and Co-chair of the EESC Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks. The plenary session will also assess the EU's blueprint for banking union, look at ways of regulating shadow banking and examine policies aimed at integrating the Roma.
Venue: Charlemagne building, second floor, De Gasperi room - Brussels
Start: Wednesday, 14 November 2.30 p.m.
Highlights of the plenary session
For effective participatory democracy.
In an own-initiative opinion, the EESC will urge the European Commission to draw up measures to implement the principles of participatory democracy set out in the Lisbon Treaty. The Committee will put forward a series of concrete recommendations aimed at launching a real dialogue with citizens and civil society organisations. The EESC is likely to position itself as a privileged partner in the implementation process.
Banking union package
In the Committee's view, the banking union package is essential to stabilise the Economic and Monetary Union and to restore confidence in the Euro currency. Shifting the supervision of banks onto the European level is a key part of this process. This must be accompanied by the setting-up of a common system for deposit protection and integrated bank crisis management. The ultimate objective is for the banking union to serve as a common foundation across the single market for stability, growth and recovery. The new European financial supervisory authorities should work with civil society organisations, especially consumer bodies and trade unions whose independent and transparent input should feed into the process. It is also of utmost importance that the new EU budget for the period 2014-2020, which will soon be decided upon, will be a responsible and forward-looking one, acknowledging the fact that austerity needs to be balanced by investment and innovation.
Even if shadow banking is not subject to the same regulatory and prudential requirements as regular banking, public bodies have had to deal with the losses caused by its financial activities. The EESC wants to put an end to "shadow activities", by subjecting them to requirements equivalent to those applying to the whole financial system.
In its own-initiative opinion on "The involvement and participation of older people in society", the EESC sends a clear message: age should not be a barrier to participation at any level. The opinion identifies the barriers to be removed in order to allow everyone to age 'actively'. The EESC calls on the institutions, NGOs and the media not to stigmatise older people. It will ask for greater solidarity and cooperation between generations, pointing to the untapped potential of an aging population.
Integration of Roma citizens
The EESC has backed initiatives taken by the European Institutions to address the problem of Roma citizens' integration, especially with regard to the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS). However, the Committee is revisiting the issue with an opinion based on a study carried out in the 27 Member States. Collected data shows that those strategies have not reduced the discrimination experienced by the Roma and that a sense of frustration and mistrust is spreading within the Roma community. The opinion calls on the Commission to adapt the tools and financial resources provided and pushes for better coordination of policies, in close cooperation with civil society and Roma organisations.
A full switch to web-based procurement could save at least EUR 100 billion in the EU. In addition, it would fully open up the procurement internal market – especially to SMEs. That is why the EESC will urge the European Commission to implement the transition to e-procurement by 2015.
State aid modernisation
The EESC is determined to defend EU companies when dealing with global competitors. In its opinion on State aid modernisation, the EESC will call on the Commission to clarify the role of Member States and support European firms to ensure a level playing field with international companies.
Funding the promotion of democracy
The EESC will discuss the opinion "Financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights", in which it welcomes the holistic approach vis-à-vis human rights and fundamental freedoms proposed by the EP and the Council. The EESC is pleased that more importance is being given to the emergence of an independent civil society which will contribute to democratisation and good governance. However, the EESC reiterates the need to be involved in the instrument's programming process and calls for greater importance to be given to economic, social and cultural rights and the protection of labour standards.
For more information, please contact:
Karin Füssl, Head of the Press Unit
Tel.: +32 2 546 8722