ISSN 1977-091X

Official Journal

of the European Union

C 461

European flag  

English edition

Information and Notices

Volume 61
21 December 2018


Contents

page

 

I   Resolutions, recommendations and opinions

 

RESOLUTIONS

 

Committee of the Regions

 

131st CoR plenary session and opening session of the EWRC week, 8.10.2018-10.10.2018

2018/C 461/01

Resolution of the European Committee of the Regions — The economic policies for the euro area and in view of the 2019 Annual Growth Survey

1

 

OPINIONS

 

Committee of the Regions

 

131st CoR plenary session and opening session of the EWRC week, 8.10.2018-10.10.2018

2018/C 461/02

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions on Reflecting on Europe: the voice of local and regional authorities to rebuild trust in the European Union

5

2018/C 461/03

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Establishment of a European Labour Authority

16

2018/C 461/04

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — The contribution of EU cities and regions to the CBD COP14 and the post-2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy

24

2018/C 461/05

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Communication on a European Strategy for Plastics in a circular economy

30

2018/C 461/06

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Mainstreaming sport into the EU agenda post-2020

37

2018/C 461/07

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Fair taxation package

43

2018/C 461/08

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Digital Education Action Plan

52

2018/C 461/09

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Building a stronger Europe: the role of youth, education and culture policies

57


 

III   Preparatory acts

 

COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

 

131st CoR plenary session and opening session of the EWRC week, 8.10.2018-10.10.2018

2018/C 461/10

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — The Multiannual Financial Framework package for the years 2021-2027

70

2018/C 461/11

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Horizon Europe: the Framework Programme 9 for Research and Innovation

79

2018/C 461/12

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Proposal for a Regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

125

2018/C 461/13

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Asylum and Migration Fund

147

2018/C 461/14

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013

156

2018/C 461/15

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Connecting Europe Facility

173

2018/C 461/16

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Rights and Values

196

2018/C 461/17

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Proposal for a single-use plastics directive

210

2018/C 461/18

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Clean Ports, Clean Seas — port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships

220

2018/C 461/19

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Risk assessment in the food chain

225

2018/C 461/20

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — A new deal for consumers

232


EN

 


I Resolutions, recommendations and opinions

RESOLUTIONS

Committee of the Regions

131st CoR plenary session and opening session of the EWRC week, 8.10.2018-10.10.2018

21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/1


Resolution of the European Committee of the Regions — The economic policies for the euro area and in view of the 2019 Annual Growth Survey

(2018/C 461/01)

Submitted by the EPP, PES, ALDE, EA and ECR political groups

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS,

having regard to the European Commission’s Communication on the Annual Growth Survey 2018 (AGS) (1) and to the 2018 European Semester;

having regard to its resolution of 11 October 2017 on the 2017 European Semester, in view of the 2018 Annual Growth Survey (AGS), and to its resolution of 1 February 2018 on the European Commission’s Annual growth Survey 2018;

having regard to the European Parliament resolutions of 26 October 2017 on the economic policies of the euro area (2) and of 14 March 2018 on the 2018 AGS;

1.

takes note of the overall slow and uneven pace of EU-relevant structural reforms across the EU, as measured by the implementation rate of the Country-specific recommendations (CSRs) (3); stresses that reforms are needed in all Member States to foster competitiveness and growth and to increase economic, social and territorial cohesion and economic convergence, as well as resilience to external shocks, which is crucial for the stability of the euro area; stresses that above all lack of ownership at country level and to some extent also insufficient administrative and institutional capacity are widely seen as the main factors contributing to the unsatisfactory implementation record of the Country-specific recommendations (CSRs) (4);

2.

notes the strong increase in the number of CSRs directly addressed to local and regional authorities (LRAs) (36 % in 2018, compared to 24 % in 2017) (5); also notes that, taking into account those CSRs involving the LRAs, even if indirectly, and those not involving the LRAs but having a territorial impact, territory-related recommendations account for 83 % of all CSRs (compared to 76 % in 2017);

3.

takes note that 48 % of the 124 specific recommendations which are addressed in 2018 to local and regional authorities and/or which raise challenges related to territorial disparities, repeat what was already published in 2015; welcomes therefore the European Commission’s multi-annual assessment of the implementation of Country-specific recommendations, which shows that more than two-thirds of Country-specific recommendations issued since the outset of the European Semester in 2011 have been implemented with at least ‘some progress’ (6); regrets however the persisting lack of transparency regarding the criteria upon which such assessment is based;

4.

stresses that the European Semester needs to be aligned with an EU long-term strategy translating the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at EU level. The transition to a new European strategic framework succeeding the Europe 2020 strategy would be an appropriate juncture for reforming the governance of the European Semester;

5.

strongly insists that the Country-specific recommendations should explicitly address territorial challenges and the role of the local and regional authorities in identifying and implementing them, while territory-related challenges and future scenarios should be explicitly analysed and addressed in the AGS and the Country Reports and be reflected in the National Reform Programmes;

6.

stresses the need to ensure that the European Semester is fully coherent with the objective of economic, social and territorial cohesion set in the Treaty on European Union, and suggests that the Country-specific recommendations address Member States’ multi-annual cohesion challenges;

7.

welcomes the European Semester’s focus on the European Pillar of Social Rights, and underlines that 45 % of Country-specific recommendations for 2018 give a role to local and regional authorities and/or raise challenges related to territorial disparities in the field of social rights (7);

8.

reiterates that the involvement of the LRAs as partners in planning and implementing the European Semester, along with the adoption of multilevel governance arrangements and a structured, ongoing and explicitly recognised role for LRAs, would substantially increase ownership of CSRs at country level; stresses that this involvement is all the more important in the context of stricter links between cohesion policy and the European Semester under the 2021-2027 MFF and of the possible adoption of the Reform Support Programme, which would also be managed within the framework of the European Semester;

9.

points out therefore a strong need to ensure better coordination and synergies between the European Semester process and the shared management approach, and the decentralized character of the ESI Funds; reiterates its proposal that the EU adopt a Code of Conduct to involve the LRAs in the European Semester (8), and stresses that such proposal is consistent with the subsidiarity principle and the current division of powers and competences across levels of government within the Member States; notes that the Code of Conduct should take into account the relevant experience of the European code of conduct on partnership in the framework of cohesion policy’s ESI Funds (9), as well as existing good practices of involving LRAs extensively in the Semester, in some countries;

10.

welcomes the EU Task Force on Subsidiarity’s ‘strong’ recommendation ‘that Member States follow the guidance the Commission has given on encouraging greater participation and ownership of the Country-specific recommendations in light of the fact that […] economic reforms […] may have implications for all levels of governance[…] This should go beyond the national administrations and include local and regional authorities, the social partners, and civil society generally (10)’;

11.

is concerned that the European Commission has still not provided a definition of ‘structural reforms’ in the context of the economic governance of the EU and possible support through EU programmes such as the proposed Reform Support Programme. Reiterates, therefore, that in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the scope of the structural reforms eligible for EU funding should only include the strategic policy areas relevant to the implementation of the Treaty objectives and which relate directly to EU competences. The CoR rejects any proposal to finance unspecified structural reforms in the Member States which have not undergone a prior European added value assessment and which do not relate directly to the Treaty-based EU competences. In this context, the CoR points to its resolution of 1 February 2018 rejecting the European Commission proposal for a regulation amending the Common Provisions Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of 6 December 2017 (11);

12.

highlights that the state of local and regional finances deserves renewed attention at European and national levels, and welcomes therefore the Austrian Presidency’s request for the CoR to explore the subject; recalls that LRAs’ budgets, including social spending and welfare in particular, were among the first to be affected by the financial and economic crisis, and by the ensuing budget consolidations and cuts in transfers from central government; notes that while the crisis is a decade old, many LRAs’ finances are still constrained;

13.

reiterates its concern regarding the persistent low level of public investment in the EU, and in particular investment by local and regional authorities, which in 2017 remains more than 30 % lower than its 2009 level expressed as a share of GDP (12); notes with regret, therefore, that public investments are often the most affected by fiscal consolidation policies despite such investments having a direct impact on local economies and on the daily lives of citizens; is further worried by the growing centralisation of investment: the share of public investment made by local and regional authorities — while still above 50 % in the EU on average — having fallen noticeably compared to the level of 60 % seen in the 1990s (13);

14.

welcomes the Commission’s ambition to build on the experience of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and Investment Plan more broadly with its proposal for the InvestEU Programme; acknowledges that the proposal has the potential to simplify the use of financial instruments, a long-standing demand put forwards by the CoR since the current complexity is an obstacle to widespread and effective usage;

15.

regrets the trend towards increased protectionism in international trade and warns of the negative consequences of jeopardising multilateral trade cooperation and dispute settlement systems; reiterates, nevertheless, its view that new free trade initiatives must be preceded by impact assessments, which facilitate the early identification of and quantify possible asymmetric impacts on European regions, to allow swift public policy responses;

16.

highlights that trade policy is an exclusive EU competence and that the European Globalisation Fund (EGF) is currently one of the instruments mitigating the possible negative side effects of trade policy choices; regrets that in the past funds available through the EGF have not been fully used and notes that some Member States have previously opted for the use of ESF instead. The CoR will analyse in a separate opinion in detail whether the European Commission’s proposal to broaden the scope and the mission of the EGF, as well as the lowering of its thresholds, will guarantee that the reformed EGF brings added value and avoids overlaps and trade-offs with the ESF+, as is currently the case (14);

17.

reiterates its call for a strong and holistic EU industrial policy strategy, one that will allow European industry, particularly SMEs, to tackle the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation and decarbonisation with particular attention to be given to investment in the technological enhancement of SMEs and the specialisation of workers through lifelong training; emphasises again the crucial role of local and regional authorities in building regional innovation ecosystems and clusters that are essential for successful innovation; stresses that the European Single Market is at the core of the EU’s economic and political integration and points out that the creation of the Single Market is an ongoing project and it remains incomplete in important respects, which impact in particular consumers and SMEs; also welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a new Single Market Programme after 2020, which provides a framework to support measures for improving the competitiveness of European SMEs;

18.

notes that the need to improve administrative and institutional capacity is at the heart of most structural reforms identified within the European Semester; stresses that different political priorities are one of the key reasons for the unsatisfactory implementation of structural reforms in the context of the European Semester; in some countries this compounded by insufficient administrative and institutional capacity at different levels of government, which hinders public and private investment, reduces the quality of public services provided to citizens and slows down implementation of the ESI funds and other EU programmes; stresses that, in 2018, 63 % of all recommendations directly addressed to local and regional authorities were about improving administrative capacity;

19.

notes that, although applications submitted under the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) came from most Member States, the challenge of the quality and capacity of the public administration is more serious in many Southern and Eastern European countries (15); welcomes the possibility for LRAs to have access to the SRSP and calls the Commission to encourage Member States to address the capacity building needs of sub-national governments; welcomes the Commission’s engagement in strengthening coordination between the different EU-funded capacity-building strands, and reiterates that the Commission should do this in a transparent manner by issuing a single strategic document (16);

20.

calls on the Commission to carry out an assessment of how EU rules on public procurement have been transposed into national legislation and how they are being implemented, emphasising both the way in which they are implemented at local and regional level — in light of the weight of subnational authorities in the field of public procurement — and the extent to which new standards have simplified or complicated regulation in this area; notes that more progress needs to be made on digital public procurement and that Member States should strive for a rapid digital transformation of procedures and for the introduction of e-processes for all major stages;

21.

instructs the President to forward this resolution to the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Austrian Presidency of the Council and the President of the European Council.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  COM(2017) 690 final.

(2)  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P8-TA-2017-0418&language=EN&ring=A8-2017-0310

(3)  Commission Communication on the 2018 CSRs, p. 3, (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2018-european-semester-country-specific-recommendation-commission-recommendation-communication-en.pdf); see also the European Commission impact assessment of the proposal of a Reform Support Programme (http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/10102/2018/EN/SWD-2018-310-F1-EN-MAIN-PART-1.PDF).

(4)  See p. 23-26 of the impact assessment mentioned in the previous footnote.

(5)  http://portal.cor.europa.eu/europe2020/Documents/publi-file/2018-Territorial-Analysis-of-CSRs/2018_CSRs_draft_final.pdf

(6)  Commission Communication on the 2018 CSRs, p. 3.

(7)  http://portal.cor.europa.eu/europe2020/Documents/publi-file/2018-Territorial-Analysis-of-CSRs/2018_CSRs_draft_final.pdf

(8)  See CoR Opinion on Improving the governance of the European Semester: a Code of Conduct for the involvement of local and regional authorities of 11 May 2017.

(9)  Delegated Regulation on the European code of conduct on partnership in the framework of the European Structural and Investment Funds (No 240/2014).

(10)  https://ec.europa.eu/commission/files/report-task-force-subsidiarity-proportionality-and-doing-less-more-efficiently_en

(11)  COM(2017) 826 final.

(12)  Source: Eurostat (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/refreshTableAction.do?tab=table&plugin=1&pcode=tec00022&language=en).

(13)  European Commission, 7th Cohesion Report (p. 168).

(14)  https://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR13_07/SR13_07_EN.pdf

(15)  Evidence on that is summarised on p. 27 of the European Commission impact assessment of the proposal of a Reform Support Programme (http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/10102/2018/EN/SWD-2018-310-F1-EN-MAIN-PART-1.PDF).

(16)  https://memportal.cor.europa.eu/Handlers/ViewDoc.ashx?doc=COR-2018-00502-00-00-AC-TRA-EN.docx


OPINIONS

Committee of the Regions

131st CoR plenary session and opening session of the EWRC week, 8.10.2018-10.10.2018

21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/5


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions on Reflecting on Europe: the voice of local and regional authorities to rebuild trust in the European Union

(2018/C 461/02)

Co-Rapporteurs:

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ (BE/PES), President the European Committee of the Regions, Member of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, Member of the Senate

Markku MARKKULA (FI/PPE), First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions and City councillor of Espoo

Reference document:

Referral by Donald TUSK, President of the European Council, on 8 November 2016 asking the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) to draft an opinion on ‘Reflecting on Europe: the voice of regional and local authorities to rebuild trust in the European Union’

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

Preamble: the context of the local and regional representatives’ contribution to rebuilding trust

1.

Having regard to the European Committee of the Regions’ (CoR) Mission Statement, Brussels, 21 April 2009: ‘We are a political assembly of holders of a regional or local electoral mandate serving the cause of European integration. Through our political legitimacy, we provide institutional representation for all the European Union’s territorial areas, regions, cities and municipalities. Our mission is to involve regional and local authorities in the European decision-making process and thus to encourage greater participation from our fellow citizens (…) We keep watch to ensure that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality are upheld so that decisions are taken and applied as close to the citizens as possible and at the most appropriate level (…) We have a direct dialogue with our fellow citizens on Europe’s achievements and future challenges and we help to explain and expound the implementation and territorial impact of Community policies’;

2.

Having regard to the five political priorities of the CoR 2015-2020 (‘A fresh start for the European economy’, ‘The territorial dimension of EU legislation matters’, ‘A simpler, more connected Europe’, ‘Stability and cooperation within and outside of the European Union’, ‘Europe of the citizens is Europe of the future’);

3.

Having regard to the referral of the President of the European Council on 8 November 2016 asking the CoR to draft an opinion presenting the perceptions and the proposals of local and regional authorities on the future of Europe in order to help rebuild trust in the European project (1);

4.

Having regard to the European Commission’s White Paper on the future of Europe, Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 of 1 March 2017 and the subsequent five Reflection Papers;

5.

Having regard to the Rome Declaration, signed on 25 March 2017, which states that the signatories ‘pledge to listen and respond to the concerns expressed by [their] citizens’ and that they ‘will work together at the level that makes a real difference, be it at European Union, national, regional, or local level, and in a spirit of trust and loyal cooperation, both among Members States and between them and the EU institutions, in line with the principle of subsidiarity. We [they] will allow for the necessary room for manoeuvre at the various levels to strengthen Europe’s innovation and growth potential. We want the Union to be big on big issues and small on small ones. We will promote a democratic, effective and transparent decision-making process and better delivery’;

6.

Having regard to the Letter of intent of the President of the EU Commission (2) which seeks to continue the White Paper debate on the future of Europe all the way to the June 2019 elections through debates, Citizens’ Dialogues, interaction with national Parliaments and work with regions;

7.

Having regard to the report ‘Reaching out to EU citizens: a new opportunity’ (3) which states: ‘the regions also play a growing role in rethinking governance in the Union and its Member States. With their solid socioeconomic base and common cultural identity, they offer the right scale for policy orientations and adequate delivery in many policy areas, as they are important actors and intermediaries in the outreach to citizens’; and to the ‘EU Citizenship Report 2017’ (4), where it is recognised that it is vital to strengthen citizens’ sense of belonging and participation to the integration project;

8.

Having regard to the three resolutions of the European Parliament related to the future of the European Union (5);

9.

Having regard to the launch of ‘citizen’s consultations’ in EU Member States from April 2018.

Understanding and reporting the citizens’ and local and regional representatives’ perceptions and expectations on their EU

(a)   Local and regional representatives are working to make the voice of citizens heard

10.

Highlights that under its ‘Reflecting on Europe’ initiative launched in March 2016, it has been working to build trust between the European Union and its people through citizen and town hall dialogues and meetings with associations and assemblies of local and regional politicians as well as with a number of grassroots movements (6) and national and European territorial associations aiming at listening and reporting back the views, ideas and concerns of people on the European project;

11.

Notes that, so far, over 176 political representatives of the European Committee of the Regions have engaged in the process by initiating and participating in Citizens’ Dialogues as part of the ‘Reflecting on Europe’ exercise. Over 40 000 participants have taken part in person or digitally in these events in 110 regions across all the Member States. More than 22 000 citizens have taken part through an online survey and mobile application as feedback mechanism allowing participants in the dialogues and citizens to contribute to the discussion remotely also;

12.

Highlights that elected representatives from all the CoR Political Groups are participating in these activities and, wherever possible, are sharing platforms with representatives of the European Council, members of national parliaments, members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee; stresses that further coordination is necessary to improve the visibility and the impact of the outreach activities of all institutions and Member States;

13.

Stresses the results of the survey commissioned by the CoR among local and regional authorities (LRAs), including CoR members and alternates, and their associations (7);

14.

Notes that in the majority of dialogues issues are seen by people through the prism of what happens in their region, city or local area; in this context, notes that EU politicians from regions and cities are thus on the frontline of citizens’ concerns and expectations;

(b)   What citizens told us: they want an EU project build on solidarity, cohesion and proximity

15.

Underlines that the main concerns expressed in CoR’s citizens’ dialogues (8) are slow implementation of solutions especially in the field of unemployment, migration and in the general socioeconomic situation;

16.

In this context, draws attention to the fact that many citizens have expressed a wish for more solidarity in the EU; this is a strong call for action to reduce the existing and in many cases growing inequalities in different fields, mainly by reinforcing cohesion and solidarity between and within Member States and regions; meeting this general expectation may require re-orienting and re-balancing a number of policies in the European Union;

17.

Signals a widespread frustration with the EU, as the Union is often perceived as too remote and not trustworthy. At the same time many people still feel that they do not know what the EU is and what it is doing. This is leading to a significant gap between people’s expectations and the EU’s ability to deliver. There is a lack of perceived benefit in tackling local issues, also due to weak communication, as well as misleading narratives and vocabulary used when addressing citizens as well as poor involvement in the decision-making process;

18.

Observes that Eurobarometer polls (9) show that over two-thirds of respondents are convinced that their country has benefited from being a member of the EU;

19.

Reiterates, in this respect, that the Member States have shared responsibility for finding solutions at European level to ensure that the EU has the capacity to act in relation to the major agendas, where it can bring real added value. At the same time they have to carry out the necessary national reforms, including sufficient funding, to ensure well-functioning local and regional management, where citizens can see that problems are being addressed;

20.

Highlights the fact that in many local debates and also according to the survey’s results, the under-30s are the generation that is most enthusiastic about the EU, and they set great store by the freedom of movement and the educational opportunities offered by the EU; is also aware, however, that this generation has been hit hardest in many countries by the lasting effects of the economic crisis and by youth unemployment and is very critical of the European Union’s role in this context; insists therefore that a much stronger future-orientation of EU policies is necessary and needs to be built into the EU decision-making system, with concrete action and more dedicated resources to address specific problems of younger people;

21.

Stresses that the concern of citizens that they are not sufficiently taken into consideration during the decision-making process often leads to different forms of distrust towards democratic institutions including those of the EU;

22.

Highlights that trust in the local and regional levels of governance on average is higher than trust in national government, and in most Member States it is also higher than trust in the EU;

23.

In order to rebuild trust in the EU, highlights the importance to clarify for citizens who is ultimately responsible for decisions at EU level and therefore calls for democratic accountability to be reinforced;

24.

Recalls that European integration is a project of giving political expression to a set of universal values and rights, but that many citizens are disappointed by what they perceive as the EU’s inability to live up to, and uphold its own values; recognises that it is of crucial importance to continuously reconfirm the EU citizens’ common values which are indispensable as the foundation of mutual trust and compromise;

25.

Considers there is significant potential for the development of a ‘civic European identity’ among EU citizens with important rights and duties that affect their everyday lives; such an identity that is based on Europe’s rich historical and cultural heritage would be important to increase the feeling of belonging by individual citizens to the ‘European project’ and should complement and enrich national, regional and local identities that make up an individual’s identity; while no feeling of identity can and should be imposed, it can be supported and encouraged through civic participation, cultural activities and education and should thus be supported by adequate measures and resources;

26.

Recognises that citizens living in knowledge-centred and future-centred societies can better spot the needs of their local communities and therefore are better placed to experiment and prototype evolving innovative solutions designed to meet local needs;

27.

Supports the demand from citizens for more channels of democratic participation and better communication with the European institutions via permanent and structured channels of dialogue. To this end, urges that the European Commission’s communication strategy operating through its information networks be strengthened by means of regional authorities’ potential for coordinating the Europe Direct information centres situated on their territory. This would multiply the impact of their work;

(c)   The strong call of local and regional representatives to be fully involved in the definition and implementation of the EU project (10)

28.

Agrees with the representatives of the local and regional level that the priority areas on which the EU should focus refer mainly to cohesion policy, followed by social policy (including education and mobility), economic policies (employment and growth), migration and integration, environmental issues (including climate change) and safety;

29.

Highlights that both from the Citizens’ Dialogues and from the survey among LRAs emerges a strong concern for young people, how to provide them with the right opportunities and how to meet their expectations;

30.

Underlines that just as for citizens, solidarity is also a recurring concept for LRA representatives, as one of the European Union’s key founding values;

31.

Highlights that a majority of LRA respondents consider that more decentralisation and a better division of powers are essential elements of good governance because they increase transparency, accountability and quality of policy making as they allow a direct involvement of and engagement with citizens and allows place-based solutions; notes that the LRAs’ involvement in the EU decision-making process brings added value to the policies pursued;

32.

Observes that LRAs are keenly aware of the ever growing need for cooperation beyond national borders in order to meet the major challenges of our times such as climate change and natural disaster, globalisation in all its expressions, digitalisation and its social consequences, instabilities around the globe, demographic change, poverty and social exclusion etc. They also play a decisive role in implementing cohesion policy, including cross-border cooperation initiatives such as numerous small-scale and people-to-people projects which are particularly important as a daily concrete illustration of solidarity;

33.

Highlights that LRAs also wish the European Union to focus more on EU citizenship rights such as the right to live, work, and study freely; in this respect, important work can be carried out by regional and local administrations, in cooperation with the European institutions, in informing citizens of the real opportunities that free movement offers them to study or develop their careers in another Member State;

Anchoring EU policies locally to make a difference to people’s lives

(a)   Addressing societal challenges locally

34.

Stresses that the EU policies need to empower people in addressing the issues that are important to their lives and to which all levels of governance, from the European to the local, need to provide answers;

35.

Notes that the societal challenges ahead of us need to be addressed globally, but action has to be taken locally;

36.

Recalls that cities and regions assure the connection between the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and citizens by replying to their call for action through the tools put at their disposal by the EU; the 17 SDGs will not be reached without engagement and coordination with local and regional governments. To this end, all instruments aiming at supporting decentralised cooperation, policy coherence and the territorial approach should be fully exploited as they mobilise the potential of LRAs and of civil society to promote partnership and synergies between all levels of governance;

(b)   Promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion for the citizens

37.

Stresses that tackling the persistent economic, social and territorial disparities remains a major challenge for the future of the EU;

38.

Recalls that social, economic and territorial cohesion are objectives of the EU Treaty and their achievement requires addressing both structural and new challenges, promoting resilient societies and economies and a framework to harness globalisation;

39.

Highlights the seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, ‘My Region, My Europe, Our Future’ which ‘shows how much cohesion policy is vital to Europe, its citizens, its economy and its cities and regions and that reconciling sustainable economic growth with social progress, as cohesion policy is helping to do, is as essential as ever’ (11);

40.

Calls for a strong cohesion policy beyond 2020 for all regions, based on the principle of European partnerships, shared management and multi-level governance as requested by the #CohesionAlliance Declaration;

41.

Regrets that only a minority of citizens are aware of the positive effects of cohesion policy. Calls therefore for concerted efforts of all levels of governance to make the effects of different elements of the EU’s policies and funds better known;

42.

Highlights that the EU urban agenda helps to tackle issues ranging from urban mobility to air quality, from circular economy to inclusion of migrants and refugees. Further emphasises the importance of urban-rural partnerships to tackle these issues more effectively. It also supports cities and regions to develop place-based innovation ecosystems and to implement smart specialisation strategies;

43.

Underlines that Services of General Interest (SGIs) and Services of General Economic Interest (SGEIs) are an integral part of the European social model and social market economy, ensuring that everyone has the right and possibility to access essential goods and high-quality public services; advocates widening the concept of SGEI to new social services, such as reception and integration of refugees and migrants, social housing, minimum income or digital infrastructure;

44.

Calls for more European partnerships between municipalities, cities and regions, including through twinnings, to operate as global forerunners in order to implement best practices in tackling societal challenges and latest scientific knowledge;

(c)   Answering migration and ensuring integration

45.

Points out that in the perception of Europe’s citizens, the challenge of migration is one of the touchstones of how ‘solidarity’ is put into practice but that a common understanding of what solidarity means in this context still needs to be built; stresses the key role that local and regional authorities have to play in facilitating the reception and integration of migrants and in organising an open, rationale and humane debate about these sensitive questions;

46.

Insists that municipalities, cities and regions must be supported in their roles in both crisis management and long-term integration. The EU needs to provide a coherent policy framework for migration, as well as sufficient targeted financial and technical support in addition to the Member States, to facilitate the integration of migrants at the local level;

47.

Underlines that integration policies for migrants must be developed in partnership between all levels of governance and supported also by appropriate financial instruments from the EU level as part of a comprehensive EU migration policy. In order to guarantee the highest chances of successful integration in the interest of both the migrants and the host society, several factors such as the migrants’ professional and language skills, existing family ties, their preferences and possible pre-arrival contacts with a host country should be taken into consideration;

48.

Notes that an effective and humane management of the EU’s external borders and the development of a comprehensive migration policy and a common EU asylum system with common high standards are essential for all municipalities, cities and regions, in particular those hosting refugees and those situated at borders particularly affected by migratory peaks; stresses also that such a policy must comprise a coordinated approach to humanitarian protection, new paths for regular migration including circular migration schemes as well as efforts to combat the causes of migration and fighting human trafficking in all its forms, particularly the trafficking of women and children for sexual purposes and that this requires both new political commitment at all levels, and the appropriate means;

(d)   Ensuring social rights and access to education and promoting cultural heritage

49.

Highlights that citizens strongly feel the need for the EU’s social dimension to be developed throughout all EU policies and programmes, in complementarity to the existing national or regional gender equality and social protection schemes. Articles 8 and 9 TFEU provide a basis for that and should therefore be properly enforced. The CoR also supports the implementation of the social pillar regarding which LRAs should play a fundamental role and calls for a Social Progress Protocol to be included into the EU Treaties; aims at putting social rights on a par with economic rights; welcomes the fact that the Social Pillar has been included in the European Semester. The CoR supports the idea of a social scoreboard in the European Semester and is also of the opinion that social targets of a binding nature must be brought into EU primary legislation;

50.

Insists that social investment should not be seen purely as a burden on the public purse. Financing social policies and protecting social rights, as identified at the Gothenburg Summit in November 2017, has a clear European added value which is fundamental in rebuilding citizens’ trust in the integration process;

51.

Underlines the key importance of helping citizens to access local and fair labour markets to eradicate unemployment, with special measures to help those groups most affected by it; seeks to draw up a plan for social targets to be included in a forward-looking social policy action programme, containing specific measures and concrete legislative follow-up investing in people, skills, knowledge, social protection and inclusion;

52.

Calls for an EU that is fully committed to promoting equality between women and men and, in particular, to the prevention and elimination of violence against women, which is a universal, structural and multidimensional problem that generates incalculable personal, social and economic costs;

53.

Insists that it is essential to invest in young people and calls on the EU to support LRAs in addressing the needs in the area of skills and education; calls for a new ‘alliance for skills and education’ with the objective of boosting public investment in education, promoting mobility (Erasmus+), fostering interregional cooperation in particular in cross-border areas and encouraging people-to-people exchanges not just in a professional context, but also in the cultural sphere;

54.

In keeping with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, calls for regional governments to be involved in managing instruments such as the European Social Fund and the funds to support the application of the Youth Guarantee, as it is often at regional level that active employment policies, including social innovation and equality policies, are implemented;

55.

Emphasises that in the field of education, it would be beneficial for school curricula to include the various elements which we share as Europeans, in different areas such as history, culture, heritage and even the European integration project itself. In any case, it furthermore highlights the importance of the work usually undertaken by local and regional authorities to make the European project known among school students;

56.

Recalls that cultural heritage in its diverse forms is a major asset for Europe: it is a resource with the potential to become a key lever for more cohesive and sustainable regions in the EU that can help strengthen identity in a region as well as in Europe as a whole, and particularly embodies the EU’s motto of ‘united in diversity’;

57.

Stresses that tourism and creative industries can transform the regions’ cultural heritage into an opportunity for job-creation and economic spill-over, including through innovation and smart specialisation strategies.

58.

Underlines that the European Union must champion and enhance the linguistic and cultural diversity to which it is home, foster knowledge of it, and promote innovation and interregional cooperation in all cultural fields, as well as new business models in the cultural and creative industries;

(e)   Boosting research, innovation and digital transformation

59.

Considers that European funding programmes based on research, innovation, exchange, partnership and mobility that are provided in smart cities can enable better services for citizens thus improving their quality of life, and stresses that cohesion and the common agricultural policies can be vibrant and forward-looking also through Research and Innovation;

60.

Calls for increasing the scale of innovation in the public sector and in businesses, including by the help of initiatives like ‘Science meets regions’, bringing together politicians and scientists to discuss evidence-informed decision-making, allowing Europeans to co-create their future;

61.

Highlights that digital transformation and e-governance support local public administrations. Citizens and business communities appreciate the European added value of such investments often as part of cross-border or interregional cooperation (including broadband for all), because they strengthen the resilience of the local economy and help in improving the quality of life at local and regional level;

62.

Highlights that cities are places — both physical and digital — where people can meet, encounter new ideas, explore new possibilities, design the future in an innovative way, learn about how society is changing and what the implications are for citizens. Cities can therefore accelerate the process of local communities becoming digitally connected throughout Europe;

63.

Therefore recalls that digital transformation represents a new instrument for cohesion and an effective tool for tackling demographic challenges: remote and rural areas, and the outermost regions, need to remain connected and transform their natural disadvantages into assets in line with the principle of territorial cohesion. Innovation hubs, living labs, fab-labs, design studios, libraries, incubators, innovation camps supported by the EU and local actors boost local economy and facilitate stakeholders’ accession to digital technologies;

(f)   Supporting the development of rural areas, securing the Common Agricultural Policy and promoting local production

64.

Recalls that rural and intermediate areas account for 91 % of the EU’s territory and are home to 60 % of its population, and recalls that there is a significant development lag between urban and rural areas, where a sense of abandonment translates into growing Euroscepticism; therefore it considers that both the Common Agriculture Policy and Cohesion Policy need to continue to act as solidarity-based instruments to promote renewal in sustainable and innovative agriculture and rural development and it stresses that rural areas should be taken into account in all EU policies;

65.

Interregional cooperation can be a key ingredient in optimising smart specialisation strategies, by generating synergies and maximising the performance of the global innovation drive;

66.

Emphasises that the way we produce and consume food has a tremendous local and global impact not only on the citizens’ well-being, environment, biodiversity and climate, but also on our health and economy; calls for the development and promotion of local markets and short food chains as food systems with a specific local dimension and urges that high-quality European production be promoted;

67.

Considers the cuts in the second pillar of the CAP to be disproportionate and is concerned that this measure could be to the detriment of rural areas and the European Commission’s goal of strengthening environmental and nature protection, as well as the EU’s climate and resource protection objectives;

(g)   Sustainability, environmental protection and the fight against climate change

68.

Points out that citizens expect global and local action to fight climate change and promote energy efficiency. Sustainability should therefore be mainstreamed in all EU policies with particular regard to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, cleaner mobility, renewable energy generation and through carbon sinks and sustainable production and consumption. The CoR calls on the EU to provide a sound legal and political framework, within which regions and cities can develop their own initiatives to promote the achievement of the Paris targets;

69.

Recalls that the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and bottom-up implementation initiatives play a crucial role in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and calls on the EU to support the development of locally determined contributions to CO2 reduction; sustainability and environmental protection in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the EU’s other international commitments should be therefore mainstreamed in all EU policies;

70.

Underlines the need for greater synergies between networks, projects and agreements aimed at addressing climate change and those dealing with disaster resilience, such as the Sendai Framework;

(h)   Cooperation beyond the EU to support stability and development

71.

Recalls that the role played by LRAs in the cross-border cooperation and city-diplomacy activities beyond the EU, in particular in the enlargement process and the EU’s neighbourhood, is crucial to promote grass-root democracy, sustainable development and stability;

72.

Recalls that local authorities have a major role ensuring the security of citizens by preventing violent radicalisation and protecting public spaces; considering the cross-border and transnational nature of crime and terrorism, citizens and LRAs are facing the need for cooperation and will benefit from the added value of the EU action for joint projects;

73.

Recalls the CoR’s position that any proposal for trade liberalisation agreements must be preceded by a territorial impact assessment. Also reiterates that mechanisms at the national and local levels should be put in place to access relevant information on trade policy. Moreover, trade negotiations should be accompanied by a formal and participative dialogue between the responsible national authorities and local and regional authorities. This is crucial in particular where trade negotiations also cover areas of shared competences with Member States as in these cases, competences of the local and regional level are most often affected;

Ensuring the necessary room to manoeuvre for cities and regions: a European post 2020 budget that meets ambitions and uses flexibilities to act and invest

74.

Highlights that the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) must reflect the priorities and ambitions of the EU to meet its Treaty obligation and the expectations of its citizens; defends an MFF representing 1,3 % of the EU-27 Gross National Income (GNI);

75.

Underlines that the EU budget should not be understood as a trade-off between net-payers and net-receivers, but as a joint tool to achieve our common objectives by providing added value throughout Europe. Therefore supports the findings of the Commission that we are all beneficiaries of the MFF because whereby the positive effects of a common market, security and cohesion outweigh the individual financial contribution to the EU;

76.

Stresses that the future of the EU is dependent on an ambitious and efficient EU budget following the principle that additional tasks for the EU should also go hand in hand with additional resources and the phasing out of the rebates on national contributions;

77.

Stresses that any recentralisation of the European budget, particularly through undermining shared management programmes and place-based approaches, could jeopardise cohesion in the Union and must be avoided;

78.

Recalls that public service quality is a key determinant of trust in institutions as citizens assess governments from the perspective of their experience of service delivery and, taking into account that more than one third of all public expenditure and more than half of public investment is carried out at the sub-national level, stresses that the level of public investment in the EU remains too low to provide the right public infrastructure and services. Closing the public investment gap is therefore crucial;

79.

Points out the need, 10 years after the financial crisis which has greatly damaged the public investment of local and regional authorities, to strengthen their investment capacity by providing them with the necessary fiscal space needed to support public investments, promoting local solutions by strengthening the principles of shared management based on partnership and multi-level governance and by excluding public co-financing of EU programmes from the debt calculations in the context of the Stability and Growth Pact;

Building our union from the bottom up: the way forward for an EU democratic revival is possible through a grassroots engagement

(a)   Empowering EU action: the right action must be taken at the right level

80.

Firmly believes that the proper application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality is of utmost importance in bringing the European Union closer to its citizens; recalls the importance of decisions being taken as close to citizens as possible and stresses the need for a fully accountable and transparent system of decision-making in the EU where citizens are able to recognise clearly who is politically responsible and accountable for the decisions taken (12);

81.

Emphasises that the shared responsibility and the close link between the principles of multi-level governance and subsidiarity are crucial elements of a genuinely democratic European Union;

82.

Highlights that consistent application of the subsidiarity principle must in future be the EU’s safeguard. This means ‘more Europe where more is needed’ and ‘less Europe where less is needed’, which will lead towards a more efficient and performing European Union. The mere logic of protecting Member States’ interests against EU interference is counterproductive when discussing the future of Europe; is aware of its own role as one of the ‘guardians’ of the subsidiarity principle and considers that the subsidiarity principle should be seen as a dynamic political and legal concept in policy making and policy implementation, with the purpose of ensuring that the most appropriate levels take the right action at the right time and in the best interests of the citizens; is reassured in these convictions by the final report of the Task Force on Subsidiarity and Proportionality which stresses a new ‘active subsidiarity’ understanding; will seek to implement the Task Force recommendations in close cooperation with the other EU institutions, national parliaments and local and regional authorities across the Union;

83.

Reiterates its call to codify and implement the principles of multilevel governance and partnership in an inter-institutional Code of Conduct, and for them to be reflected in the Inter-Institutional agreement on Better Law Making. Beyond cohesion policy, multilevel governance shall be incorporated into all legislative and regulatory provisions of policies which have a regional impact (13);

84.

Deems it crucial to counteract any shifts towards centralisation, and to support the development of appropriate, place-based and effective solutions on the ground, notably in the future cohesion policy, serving as a model for governance also in other policy areas;

85.

Recommends developing further the existing Territorial Impact Assessments (TIAs) in order to create effective feedback loops that take into account the diversity of EU regions and the very different repercussions of EU policies on different LRAs;

(b)   Involving regions and cities: renewing European democracy through ownership and effectiveness

86.

Stresses that the EU policies need to give people a proactive place in addressing the issues that are important to their lives. People seek solutions at the local level, better engagement in defining problems and help to deal with them. This people-centred, citizens-driven approach can solve many local challenges and demonstrate how the EU is relevant to citizens; it also means focusing the EU policy on strengthening the role of cities and regions with citizens’ engagement through public-private-people partnerships;

87.

Underlines that LRAs bring an added value to EU policies acting as laboratories to develop and implement new forms of societal innovations, solidarity and inclusive policies that citizens are expecting from the European Union;

88.

Notes that this also means that not all citizens’ problems can be solved through detailed rules in EU legislation. The principle of subsidiarity is not just about whether it is legally possible for the EU to legislate, but also whether the solutions make sense for citizens. If people think that the EU comes up with solutions that are meaningless in their daily life, it will only create greater resistance against the EU;

89.

Is convinced that the EU’s institutional system will have to continue to evolve and to be adapted to new challenges in the interest of achieving inclusive, transparent, democratic and effective decision-making; underlines that the role of local and regional authorities as represented by the CoR needs to be more fully recognised, both in the day-to-day running of EU affairs and in future adjustments to the EU Treaties where the CoR should be represented with full rights in any future Convention;

90.

Strongly believes that the local and regional dimension needs be acknowledged in the European Semester and that LRAs therefore should be involved from the beginning of the preparation of the Annual Growth Survey, in the drafting of the Country Reports and in the National Reform Programs; is convinced that to this end, the macroeconomic imbalance procedure (MIP) scoreboard should be enriched with regional indicators that will help promote and sustain the regional dimension of the EU Semester process;

91.

Considers that the democratic legitimacy of the EU and in particular of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) needs to be strengthened with the principles of social progress and equality of opportunity being at the heart of EU decision making so that employment and social standards are not being treated as peripheral to the macroeconomic adjustment process;

92.

Considers that a better involvement of regions and of regional parliaments in the EU decision-making process could enhance democratic control and accountability;

(c)   Facilitating the citizens’ participation in EU policies and co-creating a permanent dialogue with people beyond 2019

93.

Recalls also that the EU will gain in trust and credibility only if and when it delivers and if citizens receive clearer explanations of the European added value and the rationale and necessary compromises at the basis of EU decisions. In this sense, the CoR demands much greater efforts in the area of supporting multi-lingual, European media and information formats including easy to understand narratives, the development and deployment of European civic education modules for different levels of education as well as substantial increases in support for people-to-people meetings across European borders (exchange schemes at educational and vocational level, twinning programmes etc.);

94.

Stresses that participative instruments such as the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) (14) should be strengthened; as a complementary tool to the existing structures of representative democracy at EU level, and to innovative additional elements of participative decision making and permanent dialogue, ECIs can help to mobilise citizens around a common cause, highlight the European dimension of key political issues and foster the creation of pan-European debates and corresponding public opinion;

95.

Calls on the CoR Members to continue engaging with citizens and listening to them through local events, town hall meetings and citizens dialogues in order to reach every region in the EU 27 and asks the other institutions to join forces; highlights in this context the aim to organise citizens’ dialogues in all EU regions by the European elections in 2019 and encourages its members to organise dedicated sessions of their local or regional assemblies together with local citizens and their associations, in order to gather input to the questions on the future of Europe identified in the CoR’s own, as well as the European Commission’s questionnaire; stresses the crucial importance of decentralised communication on EU policies and the political choices underpinning them and the need for the EU institutions to support local and regional efforts and initiatives in this direction;

96.

Highlights that citizens’ consultation should also reach out to those citizens who are often ignored or are not interested in consultative processes; it is important to ensure a genuinely inclusive and representative dialogue with citizens to avoid that the debate is monopolised by those who are most mobilised already in favour or against the EU or a particular political issue;

97.

Stresses that communication and permanent dialogue with citizens are vital in every political system and therefore essential to increase the democratic legitimacy of the EU and to bring Europe closer to its people;

98.

Recalls in this context that engaging citizens must not be limited to the periods leading up to the European elections;

99.

Commits to propose ahead of the European elections 2019 a methodology for a permanent and structured system of dialogue between citizens, EU politicians and institutions, involving local and regional authorities through the CoR and based on a transparent process of seeking citizens’ input, providing them with the space and information to identify and debate the issues of greatest concern to them, feeding the results into EU policy making and giving proper feedback on the impact of the citizens’ contributions;

100.

Is convinced that by giving feedback to the citizens, the political work of the CoR members can strengthen the links with the grassroots and reinforce the trust of people in ‘EU politics’.

Brussels, 9 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  Letter of the President of the European Council to the President of the Committee of the Regions, 8 November 2016, http://www.cor.europa.eu/en/events/Documents/Letter%20Tusk%20Markkula_Reflecting%20on%20the%20EU_081116.pdf.

(2)  Letter of intent to President Antonio Tajani and to Prime minister Jüri Ratas, 13 September 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/letter-of-intent-2017_en.pdf

(3)  Luc Van den Brande — President Juncker’s Special Adviser, Reaching out to EU citizens: a new opportunity, October 2017.

(4)  COR Opinion on EU Citizenship Report 2017, COR-2017-01319, Rapporteur Guillermo Martínez Suárez.

(5)  European Parliament (2017) Improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty, P8_TA (2017)0049; (2017) Possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union, P8_TA (2017)0048; (2017) Budgetary capacity for the euro area, P8_TA(2017)0050.

(6)  Such as Why Europe, Pulse of Europe, Stand up for Europe, Committee for the Defence of Democracy, 1989 Generation Initiative.

(7)  London School of Economics, Reflecting on the future of the European Union, March 2018, https://cor.europa.eu/en/engage/studies/Documents/Future-EU.pdf.

(8)  CoR, Reflecting on Europe: how Europe is perceived by people in regions and cities, April 2018, https://cor.europa.eu/en/events/Documents/COR-17-070_report_EN-web.pdf

(9)  Eurobarometer — Public opinion in the European Union, Annex, n. 88, November 2017 http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/ResultDoc/download/DocumentKy/81142 Eurobarometer — Future of Europe, n. 467, September — October 2017 http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/survey/getsurveydetail/instruments/special/surveyky/2179; Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the European Parliament, Democracy on the move one year ahead of European election, n. 89.2, May 2018, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/eurobarometre/2018/oneyearbefore2019/eb89_one_year_before_2019_eurobarometer_en_opt.pdf

(10)  London School of Economics, Reflecting on the future of the European Union, March 2018.

(11)  European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, Seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion: My Region, My Europe, Our Future, September 2017.

(12)  CoR Resolution on the European Commission White Paper on the Future of Europe — Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 (2017/C 306/01).

(13)  CoR Opinion on the Reflection Paper on the future of EU finances, COR-2017-03718, Rapporteur Marek Woźniak.

(14)  CoR Opinion on the Regulation on European Citizens’ Initiative, COR-2017-04989, Rapporteur Luc Van den Brande.


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/16


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Establishment of a European Labour Authority

(2018/C 461/03)

Rapporteur-general:

Doris KAMPUS (AT/PES), Regional minister for social affairs, work and integration of the Styrian regional government

Reference document:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Labour Authority, 13 March 2018 (text relevant to the EEA and Switzerland)

COM(2018) 131 final

I.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Proposal for a decision

Recital 5

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

(5)

A European Labour Authority (the ‘Authority’) should be established in order to help strengthen fairness and trust in the Single Market. To that effect, the Authority should support the Member States and the Commission in strengthening access to information for individuals and employers about their rights and obligations in cross-border labour mobility situations as well as access to relevant services, support compliance and cooperation between the Member States to ensure the effective application of the Union law in these areas, and mediate and facilitate a solution in case of cross-border disputes or labour market disruptions.

(5)

A European Labour Authority (the ‘Authority’) should be established in order to help strengthen fairness and trust in the Single Market. To that effect, the Authority should support the Member States and the Commission in strengthening access to information for individuals and employers about their rights and obligations in cross-border labour mobility situations as well as access to relevant services, support compliance and cooperation between the Member States to ensure the effective application of the Union law in these areas, and mediate and facilitate a solution in case of cross-border disputes or labour market disruptions. This also includes a consistent and effective enforcement grid.

Reason

For clear, fair and effective enforcement of Union legislation on cross-border labour mobility and the coordination of social security systems, national and regional authorities need appropriate enforcement mechanisms, which also develop a dissuasive preventive function.

Amendment 2

Proposal for a decision

Recital 14a (new)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

 

(14a)

For greater legal certainty and uniform application of law (also for the jurisdiction of local courts), rules are needed on the legal use of information (e.g. admissibility as evidence) gathered in the course of inspections. Steps should be taken to ensure that results from joint inspections can be used in a consistent manner.

Reason

For years, the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC) has been recommending that the status of joint measures be clarified across the EU.

Amendment 3

Proposal for a decision

Article 5(c)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

coordinate and support concerted and joint inspections, in accordance with Articles 9 and 10;

(c)

strengthen, coordinate and support concerted and joint inspections, in accordance with Articles 9 and 10;

Reason

The nature of concerted and joint inspections of national competent authorities should be considerably enhanced in order to improve enforceability of results.

Amendment 4

Proposal for a decision

Article 5(h) (new)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

 

(h)

facilitate the continuation of the work of existing, smoothly functioning structures, including EURES cross-border partnerships, which foster cooperation in cross-border regions with a view to supporting fair cross-border mobility.

Reason

The synergies promised by the Commission and the integration of existing, smoothly functioning structures (such as EURES cross-border partnerships which are important to the regions) should be guaranteed and secured in budgetary terms.

Amendment 5

Proposal for a decision

Article 6(c)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

provide relevant information to employers on labour rules, and the living and working conditions applicable to workers in cross-border labour mobility situations, including posted workers;

(c)

provide relevant information to employers and employees on labour rules, and the living and working conditions applicable to workers in cross-border labour mobility situations, including posted workers;

Reason

Tailored information should be made available for the whole range of social partners.

Amendment 6

Proposal for a decision

Article 6(g) (new)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

 

(g)

promote the flow of information between the regions, cities and municipalities concerned by mobility so as to exchange knowledge and experience in a structured fashion and pass it on to other parties.

Reason

Information on local conditions and experience contributes significantly to improvements in cooperation, capacity-building and the use and consolidation of available knowledge.

Amendment 7

Proposal for a decision

Article 7(1)(e) (new)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

 

(e)

recommend the exchange of good practice between regions, cities and municipalities concerned by mobility and share such experience.

Reason

The exchange of experience in the area of services should also be ensured.

Amendment 8

Proposal for a decision

Article 8(1)(d)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

(d)

facilitate cross-border enforcement procedures of penalties and fines;

(d)

facilitate cross-border enforcement procedures of national penalties and fines and develop proposals for promoting greater transparency and consistency in the implementation of such national sanctions in a cross-border context;

Reason

Inadequately regulated accountability in the enforcement of national penalties and fines in a cross-border context jeopardises the efficient application of Union legislation in cross-border cooperation between regional authorities.

Amendment 9

Proposal for a decision

Article 9(1)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

1.   At the request of one or several Member States, the Authority shall coordinate concerted or joint inspections in the areas under the scope of the Authority’s competences. The request may be submitted by one or several Member States. The Authority may also suggest to the authorities of the Member States concerned that they perform a concerted or joint inspection.

1.   At the request of one or several Member States the Authority shall coordinate concerted or joint inspections in the areas under the scope of the Authority’s competences. The request may be submitted by one or several Member States in accordance with national practices concerning the labour market in the Member States in question . The Authority may also suggest to the authorities of the Member States concerned that they perform a concerted or joint inspection.

Reason

The plethora of national traditions in respect of monitoring compliance with legislation (including institutions cooperating with the national authorities) should be borne in mind.

Amendment 10

Proposal for a decision

Article 9(2)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

Where the authority of a Member State decides not to participate in or carry out the concerted or joint inspection referred to paragraph 1, it shall inform the Authority in writing of the reasons for its decision duly in advance. In such cases, the Authority shall inform the other national authorities concerned.

Where the authority of a Member State decides not to participate in or carry out the concerted or joint inspection referred to paragraph 1, it shall inform the Authority in writing of the reasons for its decision duly in advance. In such cases, the Authority shall inform the other national authorities concerned.

Amendment 11

Proposal for a decision

Article 10(5)(a) (new)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

 

5a.     In the Member States involved, the results of joint inspections may be used by the competent authorities as evidence with the same legal value as documents collected in their jurisdiction.

Reason

For years, the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC) has been recommending that it be clarified across the EU whether joint measures are legally binding.

Steps to boost cooperation should also entail the legal enforceability of the results of joint inspections being regulated and ensured at all levels of authority.

Amendment 12

Proposal for a decision

Article 11(2)(d) (new)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

 

(d)

for this knowledge to be kept up to date, regular exchange should be organised with the regions, cities and municipalities most concerned — both in host countries and the countries of origin.

Reason

There should also be steps to ensure regular exchange of information in analysis and risk assessment, as well as input from the regions most concerned.

Amendment 13

Proposal for a decision

Article 18 (new)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

1.   The Management Board shall be composed of one senior representative from each Member State and two representatives of the Commission, all of whom have voting rights.

1.   The Management Board shall be composed of one senior representative from each Member State, two representatives of the Commission and one representative of the Member States’ regional authorities , all of whom have voting rights.

2.   Each member of the Management Board shall have an alternate. The alternate shall represent the member in his or her absence.

2.   Each member of the Management Board shall have an alternate. The alternate shall represent the member in his or her absence.

3.   Members of the Management Board representing their Member States and their alternates shall be appointed by their respective Member States in light of their knowledge in the fields referred to in Article 1(2), taking into account relevant managerial, administrative and budgetary skills.

3.   Members of the Management Board representing their Member States and their alternates shall be appointed by their respective Member States in light of their knowledge in the fields referred to in Article 1(2), taking into account relevant managerial, administrative and budgetary skills.

The Commission shall appoint the members who are to represent it.

The Commission shall appoint the members who are to represent it.

 

The representative of the Member States’ regional authorities shall be appointed by the Committee of the Regions from among its members from EU Member States in which responsibility for employment policy is shared with the regions.

The Member States and the Commission shall make efforts to limit the turnover of their representatives on the Management Board in order to ensure continuity of the Board’s work. All parties shall aim to achieve balanced representation between men and women on the Management Board.

The Member States, the Commission and the Committee of the Regions shall make efforts to limit the turnover of their representatives on the Management Board in order to ensure continuity of the Board’s work. All parties shall aim to achieve balanced representation between men and women on the Management Board.

4.   The term of office for members and their alternates shall be four years. That term shall be extendable.

4.   The term of office for members and their alternates shall be four years. That term shall be extendable.

5.   Representatives from third countries, which are applying the Union law in areas covered by this Regulation, may participate in the meetings of the Management Board as observers.

5.   Representatives from third countries, which are applying the Union law in areas covered by this Regulation, may participate in the meetings of the Management Board as observers.

Reason

In some Member States, responsibility for employment policy is shared between the State and the regions: the authority’s management board should include one representative of regional authorities, in order to ensure a balanced representation of interests.

II.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General considerations and general assessment of the proposal

1.

welcomes the aim of the proposal, namely consolidating fairness and supporting confidence in the single market by means of more effective application of Union law in the area of cross-border labour mobility and coordination of social security;

2.

supports the approach entailing the establishment of a European Labour Authority (ELA) to assist Member States in combating irregularities in the field of free movement of workers, freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services, thus improving the quality of mobility;

3.

underlines the observation that abusive use of these freedoms not only weakens the cohesion of the EU, but also leads to considerable social, economic and budgetary constraints being placed on regions, cities and municipalities and on people themselves;

4.

reiterates that when this happens, tax revenue and social security contributions are reduced and there is a negative impact on employment, working conditions, competition, local and regional development, welfare and social security;

5.

therefore advocates greater consistency and the facilitation of cooperation between national authorities, who currently come up against territorial jurisdictional limitations in the effective enforcement of existing rules in cross-border situations;

6.

underlines that better coordination at EU level of sanctions for infringements of legislation on labour mobility could constitute a deterrent to non-compliance and make a significant contribution to a more effective enforcement system, also in the spirit of Articles 81 and 82 TFEU. Moreover, this would strengthen trust and fairness in the Internal Market, by ensuring, inter alia, a clear business environment and a level playing field. For the effective achievement of such a coordination, it is necessary to it is necessary to deploy all the necessary means (such as links between IT platforms or telematics systems or other means of communication);

7.

supports the operational role of the ELA, which is to take over the technical tasks of existing structures and incorporate and further develop them in order to plug the gaps in the system and create synergies;

8.

points out that tasks and competences should be clearly defined so that at all levels of public administration, supporting cooperation measures are devised in a targeted, efficient manner and duplication of existing structures avoided;

9.

points out that in the ELA’s proposed remit, there is a broad spectrum of national, regional and local practices and legal situations, and would stress that the ELA’s mandate should be compatible with this diversity and accumulated knowledge taken on board;

Critical assessment of the objective and tasks from the regions’ perspective

10.

stresses that especially those employees who work across borders are in a vulnerable position in Europe because their rights are more easily infringed due to their mobility between their regions of origin and the host regions;

11.

underlines that the regional and local level is directly affected by irregularities in matters of cross-border labour mobility, that it has the closest contact with the public and thus with job seekers and employers, and that labour market mobility is to a considerable extent arranged — and arrangeable — along regional lines (1);

12.

emphasises that, because of this key role, provision should be made for local and regional authorities to be appropriately represented on the ELA management board (2);

13.

notes that the ELA should cover all areas of the economy and that close involvement of the social partners should be ensured through sectoral and regional representation in the stakeholders’ group so that enough account is taken of the various problems;

14.

highlights how important it is for achieving the objectives that the ELA’s actions be based on an enforceable approach and accountability, while upholding to the same extent the autonomy of national systems;

Subsidiarity and proportionality

15.

stresses that the subsidiarity principle has to be complied with fully at every development level of the ELA and all national competences in labour and social policy matters respected;

16.

underlines that the proportionality principle must be fully upheld to avoid an additional financial and administrative burden;

17.

points out that the establishment of the ELA should aim to strengthen the basic freedoms of the single market and serve as a support for national authorities in those areas where effective application of Union law by Member States is limited by national borders and/or where regional differences cannot be tackled properly at national level;

18.

notes that the European Labour Authority has to allow for the different labour market models and priorities that Member States may have. The European Labour Authority should on no account affect the autonomy of the social partners and the central role they play;

19.

maintains that this should contribute to an improvement in the quality of mobility as part of existing competences and regulations;

20.

points out that positive effects, both for the region of origin and the host region, could be achieved by more efficient cross-border enforcement by national authorities and, in so doing, an increase in tax and social security revenue could be expected and the impact on fair working conditions and competition of greater legal certainty and consistent implementation of legislation could be felt locally (3);

Additional proposals and further regulatory requirements

21.

recommends that, given the dynamic nature of the European labour market against a background of demographic change and technological challenges, and in accordance with the subsidiarity and proportionality principles, provision be made for development opportunities for the ELA;

22.

deems it essential that, when dealing with cross-border situations, the commitment of all actors involved to a swift, effective and consistent follow-up has to be strengthened in order to achieve a positive impact at regional and local level;

23.

recommends that, when dealing with third countries and where applicable, the Authority should build on the Union’s macro-regional strategies, which help address, through strengthened cooperation, common challenges faced by a defined geographical area covering Member States and third countries and contribute to the achievement of social, economic and territorial cohesion.

Brussels, 9 October 2018

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  CoR opinion on Labour Mobility and Strengthening of EURES (CoR 2014-1315).

(2)  CoR opinion on the European Pillar of Social Rights (CDR 2868/2016).

(3)  https://cor.europa.eu/en/our-work/Documents/Territorial-impact-assessment/TIA-ELA-Labour-Authority-20180704.pdf


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/24


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — The contribution of EU cities and regions to the CBD COP14 and the post-2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy

(2018/C 461/04)

Rapporteur:

Roby BIWER (LU/PES) Member of Bettembourg Municipal Council

Reference document:

Letter from Frans Timmermans, Vice President, European Commission, April 2018

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

A.   Current state of play in meeting biodiversity targets in Europe and across the globe

1.

expresses concern at the gravity of biodiversity loss, which is not limited to animal and plant species loss, but also adversely impacts opportunities for the future — economic, environmental and even societal and cultural;

2.

highlights the fact that the target dates of two important policy instruments for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity — namely the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD Strategic Plan) and the corresponding 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy — are approaching soon;

3.

reiterates the view that — whilst there is remarkable progress in parts — scientific evidence indicates that the world in general, and many local and regional authorities (LRAs) in particular, are not on track to meet all global Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABT) and to implement the EU Biodiversity Strategy. However, much can still be achieved by 2020 and the preparatory phase for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework has already started;

4.

stresses that the global biodiversity loss, as well as loss and deterioration of ecosystems, is a major threat to the future of our planet; in the overarching political context of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tackling and reversing biodiversity loss and restoring ecosystems is a crucial element closely linked to combating climate change;

5.

acknowledges the culminating impact of individual local (in)actions as a contribution towards the global biodiversity crisis, which brings to light the danger of ‘narrow framing’ by dealing with each biodiversity-related case in isolation on a local scale — hence neglecting its impact globally as well as other external impacts — and underlines the need for a balanced micro-macro perspective;

6.

maintains that there is sufficient evidence and scientific proof that it is urgent to take more radical, proactive and preventive actions at global, regional and local levels towards halting biodiversity loss and restoring degraded ecosystems now and not to wait any longer (i.e. for the formal assessment of progress in 2020);

7.

highlights the inconsistency in policy objectives — horizontally and vertically –, with often contradictory approaches towards environmental issues, including, for example, agricultural or energy policies, which undermines progress in achieving ABT;

8.

realises that urbanisation policies of EU Member States still cause landscape fragmentation and urban sprawl, resulting in loss of ecosystems and biodiversity;

9.

welcomes the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and their functioning, and the development of a new overarching policy and governance frameworks that support cross border cooperation and calls on the relevant national and regional authorities to start using these instruments to develop coherent policy interventions across borders;

10.

asserts the destruction of individual Natura 2000 sites and the current level of illegal killing and trapping of birds and other species and is convinced that greater effort at all levels is needed to meet the requirements of monitoring and enforcing the Nature Directives through appropriate management plans;

11.

is disconcerted by the persistence of illegal trading in protected species, the increase in invasive alien species and the unsustainable use of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, causing a massive decline of pollinators, including bee populations;

12.

recalls the urgency of substantially enhancing global and EU efforts to effectively address the world biodiversity crisis and of decoupling economic development from biodiversity loss and related issues, including the subsequent deterioration of ecosystem functions and services;

13.

draws attention to the insufficient financial means and instruments for mainstreaming biodiversity action and adequate biodiversity management and the related financial and economic risks of non-action, which is predominant at all levels;

14.

stresses the need to focus on the weaknesses in the global and European governance structure, the challenges in the implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan and improving the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in order to achieve effective implementation through concrete strategies;

15.

notes with concern the absence and/or inadequacy of measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) mechanisms for (voluntary) contributions to assess the progress with implementation of the ABT through National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans (NBSAPs) and Regional Biodiversty Strategic Action Plans (RBSAPs);

16.

urges the early involvement of all relevant stakeholders in preparations for the next phase in formulating the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Frameworks — globally and at EU-level;

B.   Actions and responsibilities until 2020

17.

thinks it appropriate to use the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) 14th Conference of Parties (CBD COP14) as a major opportunity to identify what can actually still be achieved by 2020, so that clear and achievable commitments can be formulated;

18.

stresses the important role of LRAs in implementing the ABT in the remaining two years;

19.

highlights the importance of an adequate multilevel governance framework for coordinated action by LRAs, the EU and its Member States on further implementation of the ABT and the delivery of the European Biodiversity Strategy by 2020;

20.

backs the European Union’s decision to ban widely used pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, because of the serious danger they pose to non-target insects such as pollinators, which are crucial for plant reproduction in forests, urban green areas and crop fields, and therefore vital for global food production. The Committee emphasises the role of LRAs in limiting the use of pesticides — with due regard to the differences that exist between the Member States in terms of the division of responsibilities — including through initiatives such as ‘Pesticide-Free Towns’ and ‘Bee-Friendly Cities’;

21.

advocates an increase of resources (legal, financial and human) for LRAs who wish to do so to adequately develop their direct competences in matters of protection, planning, sustainable use, management, restoration and monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystems, including sites of greater conservation interest;

22.

highlights the importance of LRAs being provided with tools and mechanisms to access high quality information on status and trends of species, habitats, ecosystems and their services;

23.

calls on EU Member States to establish an integrated approach to the development and implementation of national, subnational and local biodiversity strategies and action plans (LBSAP),, along the lines suggested in the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Guidelines of the CBD Secretariat and ICLEI, where they are not already in place, and to improve LRA involvement in setting up, reviewing and implementing NBSAPs in order to support their effective delivery and their integration into planning — vertically and horizontally — and sectors whose activities impact biodiversity (positively or negatively);

24.

underlines the need to increase biodiversity funding, particularly investments in Natura 2000, throughout EU funding instruments, including the Structural and Cohesion Funds, and also welcomes support tools such as eConservation which offers a database with valuable information about biodiversity funding opportunities by public donors;

25.

proposes best practices be provided on the removal of perverse subsidies in different sectoral policy fields in order to increase the coherence of EU action for biodiversity protection and carry out assessments of environmentally harmful subsidies to better steer the EU budget towards sustainable development; earmarking of financial resources must give a high priority to sustainable development;

26.

welcomes the efforts of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to intensify research and innovation activities exploring the potential of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) and Green and Blue Infrastructures (GI) for regenerating urban areas which it sees as good building blocks for improving the implementation of the EU biodiversity strategy in urban and densely populated areas, including in the period 2020-2030 and in conjunction with the EU Urban Agenda; underlines, however, the need to further foster implementation of the EU Nature Directives, and stresses that these programmes on NBS and GI must not be considered a replacement for, but can be useful additions to, strong biodiversity and ecosystem services actions in peri-urban and rural areas;

27.

highlights the fact that funds from the various existing financing instruments should be managed directly by the competent and mandated regional and local bodies responsible for conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems in accordance with the ABT;

28.

calls for a strengthening of the role of LRAs in preventing illegal trading by establishing biodiversity-oriented procurement rules and for halting the increase of invasive alien species, notably by providing frameworks for collaborative, joint activities in cross-border situations in the interest of integrated species migration and biodiversity management; highlights the role of existing strategic networks such as the Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure (TEN-G) in providing cross-border green infrastructures and corridors through cross-border cooperative management and action plans;

Central Role of Local and Regional Authorities in the Implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan and the EU Biodiversity Strategy up to 2020

29.

confirms and welcomes the increasing recognition of the role of local and regional authorities at EU level in delivering on the European Biodiversity Strategy;

30.

believes that LRAs should be actively involved in the creation and implementation of policies for the removal of counter-productive subsidies and mainstreaming biodiversity in different sectoral policy fields, including agriculture as well as urban and regional development (through the relevant EU Funds);

31.

encourages LRAs to step up work to mainstream biodiversity considerations in land-use and urban planning as an effective instrument to facilitate contributions to implement the ABT;

32.

reasserts the role of LRAs in running, on a voluntary basis, awareness-raising programmes and platforms aimed at highlighting the importance of protecting and restoring our biodiversity and ecosystems and their services;

33.

encourages LRAs to engage in international, European and national standardisation and certification processes for managing biodiversity and ecosystems, including tools to use as references and to support uptake of a coherent biodiversity governance and management framework;

C.   Towards an effective and operational post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

34.

welcomes the Resolution from the Parliament on the EU Action Plan for Nature, People and Economy adopted at the end of 2017, which asks the Commission to start working without delay on the next EU Biodiversity Strategy, in line with the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) formulation process;

35.

recognises the need to reinforce the political commitment at global and EU level to address the global biodiversity crisis and raise the ambitions in the post-Aichi decade 2020-2030;

36.

expects CBD COP15 to generate renewed global attention and commensurate commitments to not only halt the loss of, but actually to restore biodiversity and ecosystems and to establish an ambitious, inclusive post-2020 GBF until 2030 that is capable of achieving the 2050 Vision of the CBD and other relevant UN Agreements;

37.

urges the EU to take responsible leadership in the global preparatory process towards a post-2020 GBF and establish an ‘external biodiversity policy’ — or contribute to a ‘global interior biodiversity policy’ — determining the EU’s responsibility as a global leader in biodiversity;

38.

calls on the EU and all parties of the CBD COP to strengthen and formalise the dialogue and participation of LRAs (and other non-party stakeholders) in the development and implementation of the new policy framework;

39.

encourages the EU to engage in cross-regional collaboration with Africa, South America, Asia, and — in particular — China, as host of CBD COP 2020, in order to develop common and coherent approaches to promoting joint interests in meeting the ‘renewed’ ABT for restoration, sustainable use and management of biodiversity and ecosystems in the decade 2020-2030;

40.

highlights the need to translate the Vision for 2050 into tangible terms and pathways that include pragmatic, solutions-oriented responses, to be discussed at CBD COP14;

41.

highlights the need for developing the post-2020 GBF by aligning and integrating all relevant environmental UN Agreements, such as UN SDGs, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), with the — renewed — Aichi Biodiversity Targets, to prevent the separation of biodiversity and ecosystem services from the social and economic goals that they underpin; this will allow biodiversity values to be mainstreamed into other sectors and, hence, policies and planning processes, as well as in cross-border collaboration;

42.

urges policy coherence through better integration of biodiversity in particular with SDG 11 ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, SDG 14 ‘Life below Water’, SDG 15 ‘Life on Land’ — and more precise and aligned formulations across the different instruments in order to avoid confusion, contradiction and duplication;

43.

emphasises the crucial significance of multilevel cooperation and the establishment of an effective and operational multilevel governance structure in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, including LRAs (globally as well as in the EU), for coordinated action towards meeting the ‘renewed’ ABT;

44.

calls for the new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to explicitly mention the role of LRAs in the mechanism for national monitoring, reporting, and verification;

45.

encourages a coherent post-2020 Global Biodiversity Governance structure and mechanism that applies the principles of horizontal mainstreaming, vertical alignment, and cooperative and integrated management linked to measurable targets and reporting mechanisms by and for all levels, including subnational governments, aligned with other international agreements;

46.

recommends exploring the possibility of fostering a system of voluntary contributions at the different levels — similar to UNFCCC introducing nationally, regionally and locally determined contributions — commensurate with national circumstances, but at least equally bold and ambitious;

47.

reiterates the need to continue with an approach similar to — and in the spirit of — the ABT, introducing clear, time-bound and new measurable targets to halt the loss of, and to restore, biodiversity, nature and ecosystems, as well as effectively eradicate and prevent the introduction of invasive alien species and effectively stop the illegal killing and trading of wildlife in the decade 2020-2030;

48.

calls on the EU to provide a strategic and continuous orientation and guidance for EU Member States and other countries for their efforts in addressing threats to, and management of, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Given the understanding that biodiversity loss is driven by a multitude of individual cases and decisions, guidance should include principles and criteria for assessing the impacts of these derived from, and compared with, global biodiversity targets to avoid ‘narrow framing’;

49.

considers a coherent monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) approach very important for the accounting of progress within the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the periodical stock-taking of the implementation of its long-term goals. This must be done in a comprehensive and facilitative manner, focusing on (1) halting biodiversity loss, (2) restoring biodiversity and ecosystems, (3) sustainable use and management of biodiversity and ecosystems. This should be done through prevention of arrival and eradication of invasive alien species, and stopping illegal killing and trading of wildlife, and monitoring and verifying biodiversity indicators. MRV must be as objective as possible and based on the best available science, providing for the attribution of quantified impacts to policies and action, visibility of progress and achievements, and identification of needs for correction or further action;

50.

urges the mapping and monitoring of national contributions, including regional and local, against global targets under the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to allow for tracking and periodical stock-taking of collective pledges;

51.

favours the creation of a common scientific and technical knowledge base on biodiversity which would involve developing comparable methods of detection, establishing common monitoring rules and creating appropriate platforms for management and dissemination of data and knowledge;

52.

wishes to see greater awareness of resources and services (environment, tourism, agriculture, crafts, energy, services and the social economy) offered by subnational levels in order to promote a better meshing of biodiversity conservation measures with the planning at different levels of government and with subnational socioeconomic development initiatives;

53.

calls for a deepening and dissemination of knowledge of good practices in the management of Natura 2000 areas at European level and the promotion of a regular dialogue with the relevant management bodies, as well as the involvement of various public and private stakeholders in the locality that work in biodiversity;

54.

proposes the introduction of operational ‘SMART’ (specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic, and time-bound) targets in the post-2020 framework, moving from status-related, non-measurable goals, towards result-oriented, ‘pressure-related’ targets, defined in clear and operational manner and language, and allowing for progress to be measured and reported in comparison to the targets;

55.

acknowledges the need for more compelling and easily communicable goals and targets in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, while also updating and/or replacing the time bound Aichi targets, including the following: (1) Strategic goal B on reducing direct pressure on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use should incorporate sustainable use of terrestrial species alongside fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants under Target 6; (2) Strategic goal D on enhancing benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services should acknowledge the contribution of biodiversity to human health — apart from those mentioned in targets 14, 15 and 16 — with additional targets on issues such as pharmaceutical use, medicinal plants, nutrition, mental health and health promotion, etc., as well as a recognition of the links between biodiversity, peace and conflict and migration of people; (3) increased attention to the services offered by soil, freshwater and the high seas and their respective biodiversity, and (4) measures in respect of nature and ecosystem services aimed at improving the living environment in cities and peri-urban areas, including from the perspective of climate change;

56.

points out to local communities the importance of seeing biodiversity as an opportunity in economic, social and employment terms, including in relation to social inclusion needs, and of experimenting with new local cooperation models based on the dissemination of social and environment provisions designed to improve biodiversity;

57.

calls for joint biodiversity indicators to be built on, added to and to be aligned across all relevant international frameworks, including in particular the SDGs, in order to avoid duplication, to promote effective, integrated measurability and implementation and to leverage transformational change in the interest of eradicating poverty, promoting climate mitigation and adaptation and increasing food resilience in local communities;

58.

calls for more capacity development opportunities — including the necessary financial means and innovative, activating methods such as peer-to-peer learning — to strengthen technical knowledge and skills for halting biodiversity loss, restoring biodiversity and ecosystems as well as preventing invasive alien species and illegal killing and trading of wildlife, at all levels, involving Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), experts and professionals (including hunters, fishers, shepherds and foresters) in managing biodiversity;

59.

proposes stronger partnerships and support for collective action amongst all stakeholders and the wider public, with special attention to contributions from Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), women, young people and those directly relying on and managing biodiversity (including hunters, fishers, shepherds and foresters) and the stopping of illegal killing and trading of wildlife. The CoR reiterates the need for increasing technical assistance and/or guidance (not only for EU local and regional authorities but also for transit and source regions of wildlife trafficking), capacity building and rights-based instruments for an effective participatory process integrating the principles of good governance;

60.

encourages the development of international standards for Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans and integrated management and planning, as well as other instruments related to the future governance and management mechanism to facilitate uptake and coherence;

61.

recognises the importance of global biodiversity modelling and scenarios for better informed and sound biodiversity management decisions and the development of innovative data collection systems or the expansion of existing systems with data on biodiversity;

62.

encourages the creation of a global platform for knowledge transfer, monitoring and reporting on implementation of commitments by nations and LRAs for engaging LRAs in exchanging and snowballing best practices and supporting MRV;

63.

insists on the need to increase biodiversity funding — globally, in the EU and domestically — targeted at specific local contexts. This should include appropriate guidance to ease access and effective and efficient deployment of available funding instruments, as well as regular systematic evaluation of results to avoid adverse effects and conflicts between different policy objectives;

64.

recommends the benefits be explored and exploited of new and innovative financing options, including tax incentives, payments for ecosystem services, regional/national lotteries, a dedicated biodiversity fund at EU and/or global level, and the combination and blending of financing, as well as related structural innovations, such as public-private partnerships for biodiversity, private-business foundations, foundations under public law, and incentives for action through, for example, voluntary labelling/certification;

65.

commits itself to continuously and proactively engaging in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework preparatory process in the spirit expressed in this opinion.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/30


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Communication on a European Strategy for Plastics in a circular economy

(2018/C 461/05)

Rapporteur:

André VAN DE NADORT (NL/PES), mayor of the municipality of Weststellingwerf

Reference document:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy

COM(2018) 28 final

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

A.   General remarks

The Committee of the Regions:

1.

Welcomes the European Commission’s Communication on a European Strategy for Plastics in a circular economy, and the challenges and key actions identified, and stresses that ambition is needed to make the transition towards a circular economy and to tackle the societal and environmental challenges and practical issues relating to plastics. Takes note in this context of the legislative proposals by the European Commission to target the ten single-use plastic products found most often on EU beaches and in EU seas which, together with abandoned fishing gear, constitute 70 % of all marine litter.

2.

Recognises that plastics — being a highly durable, hygienic and inexpensive material — have a number of benefits, but is deeply concerned about the current low collection and recycling rates for plastics and believes that current practices to tackle this challenge are focussed too much on end-of-pipe solutions (collection, sorting, processing).

3.

Stresses the key role and interest of local and regional authorities in the development and implementation of solutions for plastics in a circular economy. The responsibilities of local and regional authorities (LRAs) concern waste management and environmental protection: including elements such as waste prevention, collection, transport, recovery (including sorting, reuse and recycling), disposal and cleaning up litter, in streets, on coasts, in lakes and in the sea, supporting fisheries and tourism and building awareness about waste, littering and recycling matters among their citizens.

4.

Focusses on the circular future of plastics from a local and regional perspective. This means less plastics, better plastics, better collection, better recycling and better markets.

5.

Strongly believes that better cooperation and a material-chain approach between all stakeholders in the plastics value chain are essential for effective solutions. The measures must target all links in the value chain, including product design, plastics manufacturing, procurement, consumption, collection and recycling.

6.

Emphasises the role of innovation and investment towards circular solutions in promoting the social and behavioural changes needed for the transition to a circular economy as a crucial step towards implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals at EU, national, regional and local level; asks therefore the European Commission and the EU Member States, during their negotiations on the next MFF, to fully explore options for an increase in EU funding for the circular plastics economy.

B.   Less plastics

Prevention is the first priority to reduce plastic waste

7.

Points out that plastic waste prevention should be the first priority in line with the overall EU waste hierarchy. Plastic that does not end up as waste will not need sorting, processing or incineration. Waste prevention starts with limiting the use of plastics, and through product design.

8.

Recalls that there are many ways to avoid the unnecessary use of plastics in single-use products and the over-packaging of products. The essential criteria for packaging need to be strengthened in order to prevent unnecessary packaging and over-packaging and to regularly verify whether key products on the EU market fulfil these criteria.

9.

Requests further research on the relation between packaging and food preservation on a life-cycle basis and possible alternative approaches to prevent food waste without the use of (complex) plastic packaging.

Prevention of litter and plastic soup and decrease of single-use products

10.

Underlines the major concern about plastic litter: cleaning up has a high cost for LRAs and prevention of littering, both on land and at sea, is therefore essential.

11.

Supports the European Commission’s initiative for a legislative proposal on single-use plastics, proposing objectives limiting the use of single-use plastics, since most of the plastic litter on our streets originates from single-use plastics. In this regard, takes the recent proposals focussing on the most wide-spread single-used products on beaches and in the sea as an important first step, but expects further ambitious action to address also littering by other single-use plastic items and on land.

12.

Expects ambitious collection targets for single-use and on-the-go plastic applications covered by an extended producer responsibility (EPR) system, for example, plastic beverage packaging to be part of the producer responsibility in order to curb litter.

13.

Stresses that producers and importers have full responsibility for the negative impact of their products when they become litter, and that they must therefore take full responsibility for the cost for collection and treatment of the littering of their waste.

14.

Highlights the various difficulties of specific communities and regions of the EU, i.e. Outermost Regions, river communities, islands, coastal and harbour communities in the fight against marine litter and stresses the particular importance of involving stakeholders from these communities to ensure that their voices are taken into account in finding positive and practically applicable solutions.

15.

Supports the organisation of awareness-raising campaigns on littering and clean up actions; promotes the participation of local and regional authorities (LRA) in events such as the ‘Let’s Clean Up Europe’ campaign and the European Week for Waste Reduction and encourages LRA to come up with additional initiatives and explores the possibilities of involving volunteers through the European Solidarity Corps.

16.

Strongly supports against this background the principle included in the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships (COM(2018) 33) that the fees for the use of port reception facilities shall be reduced if the ship’s design, equipment and operation are such that the ship produces reduced quantities of waste, and manages its waste in a sustainable and environmentally sound manner.

Prevention of microplastics

17.

Highlights that microplastics are an increasingly widespread and problematic phenomenon, which by now can be found in nearly any part of every ecosystem including the human diet. The effects of microplastics on animal and human health and on our ecosystems are to a large extent still unknown.

18.

Advocates further research into the major sources and routes of microplastics, such as wear and tear from car tyres, textiles and litter, including the relation between plastics recycling and microplastics and the effects of microplastics on animal and human health and ecosystems. Therefore also emphasises the need to establish reliable and effective measuring technology and processes, and calls on the European Commission to support research and development activities for this matter.

19.

Calls for a ban on oxo-degradable plastics and intentionally added microplastics in all products where they are not necessary from a human health point of view, including skin-care products and cleaning agents. The CoR also calls for minimum requirements on the release of unintentional microplastics from products such as car tyres and textiles, and on measures to reduce plastic pellet losses.

C.   Better plastics

Better design of plastics

20.

Strongly believes that there is an urgent need for a better design of plastics, taking into account the possibilities for future separate collection, sorting and recycling of plastics and plastic products in order for plastics to become a sustainable element in the circular economy, and underlines that there is a strong need for innovation in this area.

21.

Emphasises that in a circular economy, we should in principle not accept non-recyclable products or materials to be put on the EU market. Therefore by 2025 all plastics, plastic products and plastic packaging, placed on the EU market, should as a minimum be recyclable in a cost-effective manner. This also requires that environmentally harmful and hazardous substances should be completely removed from plastics and plastic products by 2025.

22.

Underlines that a circular economy is also a fossil-free economy. Therefore a strong innovation agenda and subsequent support for the large scale roll-out of fossil-free plastics is needed in order to move from the current fossil-based plastics to innovative, sustainable and environment-friendly plastics.

23.

Is convinced that it is necessary to limit the number of different polymers available when making plastic products to polymers which are fit for purpose and easy to separate, sort and recycle, especially for single-use products. EU-level industry standards for these applications may have to be developed for this purpose.

24.

Requests further study into the need for harmonisation and possible limitation of additives used in plastics to influence and enhance the physical properties of plastics, in order to further ease and simplify the recycling of plastics and the application of recyclates. EU-level industrial standards for additives in plastics may have to be developed for this purpose.

25.

Moreover, takes the view that plastic products other than packaging are also liable to create litter and should therefore be designed to avoid this, and also that producers must provide for the necessary systems to dispose of these products at the end of their useful life.

26.

Recalls that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes can play an important role in promoting eco-design, with a modulation of fees according to the level of circularity of the product, including the possibilities for reuse, separate collection, processing and recycling and on the amount of recycled content. EPR legislation therefore needs to include the responsibility for eco-design. EPR legislation should also refer to EU-level industrial standards for the use of polymers and additives in single-use products.

27.

Stresses that it will be important, over the coming decades, to develop materials that do not have the negative impact on health and the environment that all plastics currently have and that can fully replace plastics. The Committee therefore calls for research activities and instruments that can create momentum towards a plastic-free future with new modern materials.

Biodegradable plastics

28.

Recognises that the current generation of biodegradable plastics is not an answer to the problem of plastic litter and plastic soup as they do not biodegrade in a natural environment or in water systems.

29.

Underlines that for consumers the message that some plastics should be separated as plastic and others as bio-waste, is confusing. This makes the communication to consumers complex and leads to mistakes in the separation of both conventional plastics and biodegradable plastics.

30.

Emphasises that biodegradable plastics that end up in the plastics recycling stream hinder the recycling of conventional plastics. Therefore the use of biodegradable plastics should be limited to applications where biodegradability has a specific purpose, e.g. the use of biodegradable bags for the collection of bio-waste.

31.

Stresses the need for better definitions and/or standards for the different forms of biodegradability. They should be linked to waste treatment, including standards for compostability and digestibility and take into account common practice in European treatment facilities. This will improve and/or simplify labelling, reduce littering and improve correct sorting, and it will also encourage the innovation of biodegradable plastics.

32.

Particularly stresses the importance of ensuring that plastics marketed as being compostable do in fact break down in the environment without requiring industrial composting. This kind of definition can significantly reduce the risk of the spread of microplastics, as there is a risk that consumers may erroneously believe that compostable plastics as currently labelled can break down in the environment with no additional processing.

D.   Better collection

33.

Emphasises that effective systems for separate collection of plastic waste are an essential requirement for a circular economy of plastics. For this purpose, collection systems have to be simple and logical for their users.

34.

Highlights that existing collection systems in EU Member States usually do not target non-packaging plastics which are therefore not separately collected and end up in landfills or incineration plants as a part of residual waste, or even as (marine) litter. This leads to environmental damage, the loss of valuable recyclable materials and to confusion amongst consumers who do not understand why some plastics should be separated for recycling and other plastics not. Better information campaigns and greater consistency between Member States in the rationale of separate waste collection would increase both the amount recycled and the compliance of locals and tourists alike with guidance on separation.

35.

Recognises that in those situations where the collection of plastics and plastic products is based on EPR, effective targets have to be set in such a way that producers are incentivised to go beyond the targets whenever possible.

Effective separate collection of plastics

36.

Invites the Commission to involve all stakeholders including those active in waste prevention and management of non-plastic materials, to improve separate collection.

37.

Stresses that the focus in the collection systems should be on plastics as a material rather than plastics as a packaging product. This would significantly simplify consumer communication and lead to an increase in collection rates. Improved alignment between LRA and EPR schemes would be necessary to address non-packaging plastic waste during dialogue with producers and importers. This also needs to be taken into account in the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.

38.

Welcomes the preparation of guidelines on separate collection and sorting of waste and asks the European Commission to ensure that LRAs are involved in the process of preparation and dissemination of the guidelines considering the important role they have in many Member States.

39.

Emphasises that local and regional waste management strategies should focus on the waste hierarchy, i.e. waste prevention, separate collection and minimisation of residual waste. There are many good examples and experiences of this kind of strategy. Innovation in separate collection should be stimulated and the exchange of best practices and knowledge between LRA should be strongly supported, e.g. through instruments such as the TAIEX peer-to-peer tool or the EU Urban Agenda.

40.

Stresses the need to prevent China’s ban on plastic leading to more landfill, (illegal) dumping, or incineration and in addition the need to invest in modern recycling capacities.

Public awareness and behavioural change

41.

Stresses that for the development of successful waste management strategies, the EC, Member States and LRAs have to be aware of the linkages at local and regional level between infrastructure, communication and public perception and the instruments that can be applied to support behavioural change.

42.

Underlines that the public awareness of citizens of waste management is a precondition for the proper functioning of effective collection systems. Public awareness translates into support for separate collection and prevention, and organisation of local initiatives, but by itself it does not necessarily lead to behavioural change. Better understanding of the mechanisms that can contribute to positive behavioural change is therefore essential. The CoR therefore stresses that the further development of strategies to encourage behavioural change both through classical means such as incentives and sanctions, and through innovative methods should be stimulated and the exchange of best practices and knowledge between LRA should be strongly supported.

43.

Encourages all local and regional stakeholders to contribute to increase awareness of the advantages of recycled plastics.

The use of a harmonised deposit system for beverage packaging should be considered on a European scale

44.

Acknowledges that deposit systems have proven to achieve very high collection rates and high quality recycling and are also very effective in preventing litter and plastic soup.

45.

Recognises that an increasing number of EU countries implement deposit systems, causing sometimes negative cross-border effects in regions with different deposit systems.

46.

Suggests that a harmonised approach at EU level or at least a maximum of coordination should be considered for those Member States which currently implement deposit systems or which are planning to develop new schemes in the future, in order to prevent negative cross-border impacts and facilitate free movement of goods.

Alternatives to quantitative targets should be explored

47.

Notes that targets related to separate collection and recycling of plastics in different EU Directives (Packaging and Packaging Waste, ELV Directive, WEEE Directive) are equal for all Member States, although the actual performance of Member States may differ greatly. This leads to a situation where some Member States still have to make a great effort where others already easily achieve targets and have no incentive to exceed targets.

48.

Urges that the target-setting in the various directives should be re-examined in order to create stronger incentives and encourage a higher quality of recycling based on the following possible approaches:

introduction of a bonus when targets are exceeded,

expansion of the financial responsibility of producers to the full cost of waste management of their products, including the cost of cleaning up litter or the cost of collection and treatment of their products that have not been separately collected and still end up in residual waste.

E.   Better recycling

Development of sorting and recycling technology

49.

Strongly supports research and innovation with regard to new sorting and recycling technologies, including depolymerisation. This could, theoretically, solve many of the current issues related to plastics sorting and recycling.

50.

Emphasises the potential of regions and cities to develop and support bottom-up initiatives through living labs, innovation hubs, and other forms of collaborative and innovative approaches to promote smart design and the use of secondary raw materials.

51.

Supports the proposed additional investment for priority research and innovation actions in the Strategy and offers to cooperate with the European Commission on the preparation of the new Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda on plastics. Such cooperation should ensure that the local and regional dimension is taken into account both in the identification of the priority problems to be tackled and in the adequate dissemination of innovations produced.

52.

Supports the work to develop quality standards for sorted plastic waste and recycled plastics.

Energy recovery is preferable to landfill

53.

Recalls that in the short term, unrecyclable plastic waste, or plastic waste which contains hazardous substances, should be treated in the most effective and cleanest waste-to-energy plants where the high energy content of plastic waste can be utilised to generate heat and power.

F.   Better markets

The uptake of recycled content in new products should be strongly encouraged

54.

Strongly believes that the demand for recycled content by end users should be stimulated through financial incentives that create an actual financially attractive alternative for virgin materials and fossil-based plastics, as well as by removing barriers to a single market for secondary raw materials.

55.

Recalls that subsidies still exist on fossil fuels, rendering virgin plastics cheaper than recycled plastics or bio-based plastics, which is a key economic barrier to the development of a circular economy for plastics; insists therefore that such wrong incentives need to be removed. In addition, producers or importers of fossil-based plastics or plastic products could be made financially responsible for the reduction of CO2 emissions from the final treatment of their plastic waste.

56.

Stresses that by 2025, producers of plastic products should use a minimum of 50 % of recyclates in the production of new plastics, unless legal restrictions on the end products prohibit the use of recyclates. Emphasises that a value chain driven approach is required to align the interests of producers, consumers, LRAs, and the recycling industry in order to increase the quality of recycling and the uptake of secondary material.

57.

Supports therefore the EU initiative regarding voluntary pledges for companies and/or industry associations and invites LRAs to give visibility to the pledges from stakeholders from their areas, promoting good practice and thus incentivising others to follow, while also checking how the pledges made are being followed-up and, if necessary, also highlight failures, in order to ensure that voluntary pledges are not empty promises used only to greenwash certain products or sectors.

Public procurement

58.

Stresses the potential for Europe’s public authorities of Green Public Procurement (GPP) in plastic waste prevention as they can use their purchasing power voluntarily to choose environmentally friendly goods, services and works, which also sets an example for other organisations. Invites therefore all LRAs to contribute to the recyclability of plastics through their public procurement policies, by demanding the application of eco-design principles and the use of recycled content in products they procure.

59.

Welcomes in this context the guidance which the European Commission and a number of European countries have developed in the area of GPP in the form of national GPP criteria (1) but asks the Commission to propose more detailed guidance documents containing information on the type of recycled plastics, their potential uses and the environmental and potential economic benefits for regional and local authorities in using recycled plastics.

60.

Highlights that most of the plastic reaching the oceans comes from Asia and that only 9 % of plastic is recycled globally. Against this background, sees great potential to improve sustainability and traceability in global supply chains through the implementation of the EU’s new trade strategy ‘Trade for All’, which aims at using trade agreements and preference programmes as levers to promote sustainable development around the world. Endorses in this context the sectoral ‘EU Garment Flagship Initiative’ proposed by the European Parliament in March 2017 (2); highlights that such initiatives will also depend on local and regional authorities’ support in promoting them and should guide local and regional action in decentralised development cooperation.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  http://ec.europa.eu/environment/gpp/pubs_en.htm

(2)  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TA+P8-TA-2017-0196+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/37


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Mainstreaming sport into the EU agenda post-2020

(2018/C 461/06)

Rapporteur:

Roberto PELLA (IT/EPP), Mayor of Valdengo, BI

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General comments

1.

aims to look at the economic and human dimension and the social-inclusion role of sport for the European Union and local and regional authorities, as these aspects are inseparable. Sport, defined as a continuum of motor activity and physical activity, relates to a wide range of policies, products and services that intersect and interact with different value chains;

2.

points out that according to the most recent estimates, sport is an essential economic sector for the EU, with ‘a share in the national economies which is comparable to agriculture, forestry and fisheries combined’ (1), a share which is expected to rise in the future. Moreover, the sports sector represents 2 % of the EU’s overall GDP, accounting for 7,3 million jobs across the continent and 3,5 % of total employment in the EU. With regard to the tourism sector, between 12 and 15 million international journeys are planned every year for the purpose of taking part in sporting events or practising an activity. One of the particular features of the sports sector is thus its strong links with other areas of production (e.g. accessible or sports tourism, technology, health, environment, transport, integration, buildings and infrastructure), where it helps both directly and indirectly to create added value (2);

3.

notes, however that a study carried out by SportsEconAustria (SpEA) (3) for the European Parliament has shown how the scope and impact of sport in terms of influencing and shaping public policies has been underestimated, particularly when considering occurrences such as volunteering (the majority of sporting activities are carried out by not-for-profit bodies) and the spillover effects of integration and social inclusion processes are factored in, along with the cost of physical inactivity, which amounts to EUR 80 billion per year in the 28 EU countries (4), and the medium-term impact on regional health budgets of illnesses caused by a lack of or insufficient exercise;

4.

stresses that, despite the growing recognition of physical activity as a major policy concern, a strong gap in knowledge still exists at local level when it comes to the wider benefits of physical activity, as research shows that 66 % of local policymakers are unaware of obesity levels in their communities, and 84 % of overweight levels (5);

5.

highlights the fact that sport is not a marginal sector, but rather a priority area for EU investment, as alongside competitive activities, the definition of sport nowadays also fully encompasses the areas of motor activity and physical activity, which are useful not only in terms of increasing sporting activity itself, but also in promoting health and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. An approach to the issue should be taken which aims to provide more equal — in other words balanced, fair and equivalent — access to the various disciplines, as well as to prevent the onset of chronic diseases (in particular non-communicable diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular risk and mental illness, etc.);

6.

underlines the key role of sport as a health enhancing and well-being factor, as acknowledged, in particular in the Third EU Health Programme and HEPA (Health-Enhancing Physical Activity) monitoring, the WHO 2014-2019 Agenda and the WHO European Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity (NOPA);

7.

further reminds that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development considers sport an important enabler of sustainable development and recognises its role in better health and education, as well as its contribution to peace, the promotion of tolerance, respect and social inclusion, and the empowerment of women and young people (6);

8.

notes some of the results from the EuroBarometer on sport (7):

almost half (46 %) of European citizens never exercise or play sport and this proportion has gradually increased in recent years (42 % in 2013), continuing a gradual trend since 2009,

the rate of participation in sport or exercise decreases among individuals with lower education levels and/or greater economic difficulties,

‘informal settings’ for sport, such as parks or outdoor areas (40 %), the home (32 %) or the journey between home and work or school (23 %) are more widespread than locations formally designated to serve this purpose,

the main motivation for participation in sport or physical activity is improved health and fitness. Lack of time is the principal barrier,

the majority of Europeans think that there are opportunities to be physically active at local level, but, at the same time many of them feel that their local authorities do not do enough in this regard;

9.

points out that the role played by sport in the economy and in contemporary society — including following the economic crisis experienced by EU — entails significant benefits for local and regional authorities in terms of: the permeability of the sectors that it impacts, producing a significant leverage effect; competitiveness, attractiveness and quality of life where sporting events activities are of a significant size and held regularly; employability, considering that European local authorities are very often owners of the facilities; and integration, as a powerful tool for communicating shared EU values which are often expressed more clearly at local level (8). Given that sport is increasingly used as a means of achieving social and economic objectives, the demand for effectiveness and efficiency in the sports sector is gradually growing, not only as a means of achieving objectives set, but also as a strategic objective in itself;

Background: existing European initiatives

10.

notes that the first policy document on sport, the White Paper on sport, was published by the European Commission in 2007;

11.

would like to draw the attention to the fact that sporting, cultural and educational events can provide a framework for breaking down barriers to integration, as stated in the CoR opinion on combating radicalisation and violent extremism (9);

12.

underlines that the Treaty of Lisbon, which has been in force since December 2009, introduced a specific article — Article 165 TFEU — giving the EU new competences to support sport, by providing provisions on the promotion of sport and calling for EU action to develop the European dimension in sport. Article 6(e) TFEU established that the EU has the competence to carry out actions to support or supplement the actions of the Member States in the area of sport;

13.

notes that in 2011, the Commission adopted a communication entitled ‘Developing the European Dimension in Sport’ (10), on the basis of which, the Council adopted a resolution on an EU Work Plan for Sport 2011-2014, which further aimed to strengthen European cooperation on sport, by setting priorities for activities at EU level that involve Member States and the Commission. In 2012, the Council adopted conclusions on promoting health-enhancing physical activity and on improving the database for developing sports policies, calling on the Commission to publish regular surveys on sport and physical activity;

14.

further notes that, to implement the Work Plan, experts have focused on devising the questionnaire for the current Special EuroBarometer survey;

15.

points out that, more recently (2017), an inter-regional initiative on economic development and value creation in the sector was launched in collaboration with the European Platform for Sports Innovation (EPSI). The initiative, named ClusSport, includes 10 countries to date; during the last 18 years ACES Europe promoted the European values trough the awards European Capital, City, Community and Town of Sport, under the flag of Europe;

16.

notes that a new EU Work Plan on Sport entered into force in July 2017 and outlines the key areas that the Member States and the Commission should prioritise in the run-up to 2020, including: integrity in sport, focusing on good governance, safeguarding minors, combating match fixing and corruption and preventing doping; the economic dimension of sport, focusing on innovation and links between sport and the digital single market; sport and society, focusing on social inclusion, coaching, the media, the environment, health, education and sport diplomacy;

17.

reminds, finally, the Commission’s most recent initiative, the ‘Tartu Call for a Healthy Lifestyle’ (11), a roadmap which has prompted a positive dynamic of cross-sectoral collaboration;

Objectives

18.

given the potential and the shortcomings identified so far, proposes addressing the following challenges:

a.

improving dialogue between existing projects and the most recent measures put in place in the regions, by encouraging high levels of participation and the sharing of good practices and partnerships (extended to the countries of the enlargement programme);

b.

being more closely in touch with people and the social dimension of sports projects, by making proximity and the ‘local’ approach their main feature, also reflecting the responsibility that local and regional authorities have with regard to facilities and events;

c.

maximising overall awareness of the benefits of exercise, physical activity and sport;

d.

broadly communicating the positive impact of sport on the EU economy, and therefore ensuring greater integration of sports policy in sectors that it intersects and influences;

e.

driving greater technological innovation and more companies on the basis of tools for local and regional authorities, by encouraging stakeholders in research, technology and education, together with managing authorities, to make a joint effort to develop and implement a common strategy, acting on links with all value chains, both upstream and downstream of the production process, with the utmost attention given to the job opportunities offered by the sector;

f.

considering sport as a genuine right of citizenship, as a tool for socialisation and inclusion, particularly with regard to people with disabilities, and for opening up opportunities for improving quality of life and physical and mental well-being, and as an educational opportunity;

g.

providing support aimed at making sports facilities fully accessible to all, regardless of age, gender, nationality and status, allowing them to be freely used and extending the hours during which they are available to the public;

h.

increasing support for and raising the profile of women’s sports competitions;

i.

considering sport as an instrument to facilitate social integration and equality;

j.

providing budgetary support for the mobility of amateur sportsmen and -women participating in competitions, especially those from remote, island or outermost regions.

Policy recommendations and proposals

19.

points out the opportunity to propose measures and to adopt practical tools with a view to ‘Mainstreaming sport into the EU agenda post-2020’, through:

Political level

20.

making a significant commitment to sport diplomacy, which will promote European values through sport and multi-level, constructive dialogue, involving all levels of government and European institutions such as the European Parliament, through the Intergroup on Sport; the relevant Commission directorates-general; the national and European Olympic committees; and all other stakeholders, including civil society, involved in this process, e.g. through pilot projects;

21.

developing external relations and international cooperation projects outside of Europe, in order to add a further dimension to exchange efforts, through mobility projects and sharing knowledge, experience and good practice (communities of practice);

22.

developing at European level tools to promote sport as a growth factor for the EU, through: mentoring programmes and soft policy measures (in conjunction with the annual Forum on Sport and the Info Days, for example) and through support for the exchange of best practices; amongst local and regional sporting associations and organisations involved at national and European level, using a bottom-up and participatory approach that takes account of their requests and needs;

23.

enhancing the role of European local and regional authorities, by ensuring that the regions are involved actively and in a more coordinated fashion in the annual European Week of Sport — which, since its launch, has been a major source of motivation for undertaking medium and long term policies that have a demonstrable impact on healthy lifestyles and behaviours and on encouraging increased participation by people in the workforce, thereby ensuring greater professionalism and employability for the sports sector;

24.

practical support from the European Union towards full implementation in the Member States of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with regard to its sport dimension;

Programme level

25.

welcoming the European Commission’s proposal to double the Erasmus funding for the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, as well as its focus on grassroots sports (12). Calls the Commission to focus in this regard on exchanges of experience between coaches, sports officials and professionals related to the sector in a broad sense — particularly young people — via, for example, peer-learning activities and study visits, mutualising expertise and experience and building capacity within cities, municipalities and regions at local level to develop innovative approaches to integrating physical activity as a key component of cities’ or regions’ strategies;

26.

calling for the allocation of funding specifically and explicitly to sport in the next European Structural and Investments Funds, given also the underinvestment in local grassroots sports infrastructures, focusing on the promotion of physical activity particularly in disadvantaged areas, ensuring access to sports activities for everyone and strengthening human skills and capabilities as key enablers of economic and social development;

27.

considering it essential to introduce more explicit guidelines also under ‘Erasmus+’, on the need to boost sport beginning with compulsory education;

28.

calling for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to support employment, particularly youth employment, through start-ups or technological innovation platforms in the sector and to boost basic grassroots sport with the help of a new generation of small-scale sports infrastructures and facilities; promoting gender equality through sport for more effective sport policies to increase the percentage of participation. Moreover, the ESIF could support new solutions to specific challenges facing regions across the EU, such as support for popular and traditional sports and encouraging their mainstreaming into curricula in the public education system, which can be used to enhance and promote Europe while keeping alive the specific characteristics and identity of communities;

29.

promoting health through exercise and physical activity, as already outlined in the Tartu Charter, including at the workplace, by considering incentives for employers, including European SMEs, for doing so, with a view to improving employees’ overall performance and productivity, while at the same time limiting absenteeism and preventing illness;

30.

underlining the importance of planning community activities — where possible in cooperation with civil society stakeholders — in accessible areas, that can be easily reached by the most vulnerable groups, particularly those with reduced mobility (13), mothers and children, the elderly, groups at risk of social exclusion such as migrants and those living in precarious socioeconomic conditions, in order to promote greater interaction between generations and integration of European citizens; planning community activities for people in prison. To this effect, calls for the consideration of a Sport4EU scheme, similar to the existing WIFI4EU one, for the promotion of health through exercise and physical activity. It would operate at the level of local and regional authorities on the basis of vouchers, disbursed in a geographically balanced manner;

31.

emphasising the link between physical activity and a healthy diet, especially at school, through education but also under the thematic objectives of the agriculture programmes. This could be done, for example, by setting up real test-beds, known as ‘health gardens’, which would provide children, adolescents and families with practical information on healthy eating, the seasonality of fruit and vegetables, the risks associated with unhealthy lifestyles and the importance of sport and physical activity;

32.

given the tremendous amount of attention that the European institutions have given to the future Urban Agenda, providing resources needed for testing and developing ‘active cities’, which are very attractive in terms of tourism and innovation and are smarter with regard to addressing the needs of urban populations;

33.

calling for the inclusion of emblematic sporting events and sites in the Interrail project, starting with the younger generations so that they can discover and spread sporting values promoted by the EU, thereby empowering them and strengthening their sense of identity;

34.

using the structural funds available for making public buildings and other public infrastructures more energy efficient in order to contribute to the environmental sustainability of existing sports facilities, including through preventing the growing use of microplastics, while exploring the possibility of converting such facilities into multidisciplinary facilities with EU funds;

35.

including the opportunity to improve data collection and modelling tools in the next ‘Horizon Europe’ programme, with a view to finding innovative solutions and new technologies to facilitate the continuous exchange of knowledge, something which also addresses the objectives set by the future Romanian presidency in relation to the smart specialisation strategy and the Digital Single Market;

36.

calling that the above-mentioned initiatives be considered in the negotiations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework with sport being effectively mainstreamed into the EU agenda post-2020; further calling for a discussion on the appropriateness of eventually establishing a Sports Programme;

Subsidiarity and proportionality

37.

expects, during discussions on and the subsequent approval of the next MFF, to have the opportunity to invoke the principle of subsidiarity in relation to this issue, as well as to draw the Commission’s attention to the aim of emphasising, under the appropriate circumstances, the key role played by the local and regional authorities with regard to the economic and human dimension of sport;

38.

reiterates its commitment to considering regional operational plans — which define the investment strategies underpinning the Structural Funds — as another useful, effective instrument to be targeted by these efforts, positioning local and regional authorities as the guarantors of collaborative multi-level governance, which allows institutions, businesses, civil society organisations and citizens to contribute to the planning and development of the sector;

39.

intends to take part, along with the European institutions, in a reflection process that translates debate and policy narratives into tangible proposals, in accordance with the SEDEC commission work programme SEDEC (21/11/2017, p. 1.2) and the Committee of the Regions’ political priorities;

40.

hopes that the Commission is committed to the EU’s ratification of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  European Commission (2014), Sport as a growth engine for EU economy, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-432_en.htm

(2)  European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/growth/content/sport-growth-engine-eu-economy-0_en

(3)  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2015/563392/IPOL_STU(2015)563392_EN.pdf

(4)  Studio ISCA/CEBR 2015 in Narrative review: the state of physical activity in Europe, p. 37, and the PASS Project http://fr.calameo.com/read/000761585fb41d432c387

(5)  PASS Project http://fr.calameo.com/read/000761585fb41d432c387

(6)  https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

(7)  Eurobarometer (release date 22.3.2018), https://ec.europa.eu/sport/news/2018/new-eurobarometer-sport-and-physical-activity_en

(8)  Study on the contribution of sport to regional development through the Structural Funds, https://ec.europa.eu/sport/news/20161018_regional-development-structural-funds_en

(9)  CdR 6329/2015.

(10)  CdR 66/2011 fin.

(11)  https://ec.europa.eu/sport/sites/sport/files/ewos-tartu-call_en.pdf

(12)  COM(2018) 367 final, Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing Erasmus: the Union programme for education, training, youth and sport and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013.

(13)  CdR 3952/2013 fin.


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/43


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Fair taxation package

(2018/C 461/07)

Rapporteur:

Paul LINDQUIST (SE/EPP), Commissioner of Stockholm County Council

Reference documents:

Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC as regards rates of value added tax

COM(2018) 20 final

Annex to the Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC as regards rates of value added tax

COM(2018) 20 final

Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the special scheme for small enterprises

COM(2018) 21 final

I.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC as regards rates of value added tax

(COM(2018) 20 final)

Amendment 1

Recital (4)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

In a definitive VAT system all Member States should be treated equally and should therefore have the same restrictions in applying reduced VAT rates, which should remain an exception to the standard rate. Such equal treatment without restricting Member States’ current flexibility in setting VAT can be achieved by enabling all of them to apply a reduced rate for which the minimum requirement does not apply, as well as an exemption with the right to deduct input VAT, in addition to a maximum of two reduced rates of a minimum of 5 %.

In a definitive VAT system all Member States should be treated equally and should therefore have the same restrictions in applying reduced VAT rates, which should remain an exception to the standard rate. Such equal treatment without restricting Member States’ current flexibility in setting VAT can be achieved by enabling all of them to apply a reduced rate for which the minimum requirement does not apply, in order to take into account the beneficial social or environmental effects of various goods and services, as well as an exemption with the right to deduct input VAT, in addition to a maximum of two reduced rates of a minimum of 5 %. Within the limits set by this directive, it is possible for Member States to maintain existing reduced VAT rates or to introduce new rates that benefit the final consumer and are in the general interest, for example for labour-intensive services or to factor in social and/or environmental considerations.

Reason

If the rules are too specific, there is a considerable risk that they may stand in the way of the flexibility sought.

Amendment 2

Recital (8)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

While the application of different rates in certain remote areas continue to be possible, it is necessary to ensure that the standard rate respects the minimum of 15 %.

While the application of different rates in certain remote areas continue to be possible, it is necessary to ensure that the standard rate respects the minimum of 15 % and the maximum of 25 % .

Amendment 3

Add a new () after Article 1(1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Article 97 is replaced by the following: ‘The standard rate may not be less than 15 % or greater than 25 %.’

Amendment 4

Article 1(2)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 98 is replaced by the following:

Article 98 is replaced by the following:

‘Article 98

‘Article 98

1.   Member States may apply a maximum of two reduced rates.

1.   Member States may apply a maximum of two reduced rates.

The reduced rates shall be fixed as a percentage of the taxable amount, which shall not be less than 5 %.

The reduced rates shall be fixed as a percentage of the taxable amount, which shall not be less than 5 %.

2.   By way of derogation from paragraph 1, Member States may in addition to the two reduced rates apply a reduced rate lower than the minimum of 5 % and an exemption with deductibility of the VAT paid at the preceding stage.

2.   By way of derogation from paragraph 1, Member States may in addition to the two reduced rates apply a reduced rate lower than the minimum of 5 % and an exemption with deductibility of the VAT paid at the preceding stage.

3.   Reduced rates and exemptions applied pursuant to paragraphs 1 and 2 shall only benefit the final consumer and shall be applied to pursue, in a consistent manner, an objective of general interest.

3.   Reduced rates and exemptions applied pursuant to paragraphs 1 and 2 shall benefit the final consumer and shall be applied to pursue, in a consistent manner, an objective of general interest that takes into account the beneficial social or environmental effects of various goods and services.

The reduced rates and exemptions referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not be applied to goods or services in the categories set out in Annex IIIa.’;

The reduced rates and exemptions referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not be applied to goods or services in the categories set out in Annex IIIa.’;

Reason

Limiting the exemptions so that ‘only’ the final consumer benefits could be difficult to implement in practice because many goods and services are sold to both individual consumers and companies. The recitals state that the basic thinking behind the proposal is among other things to preserve the functioning of the internal market, avoid unnecessary complexity and thus avoid a rise in business costs. The word ‘only’ should therefore be deleted from the text of the directive.

Annex to the Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC as regards rates of value added tax

(COM(2018) 20 final)

Amendment 5

Number 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(5)

Supply of alcoholic beverages

11.01

11.02

11.03

11.05

47.00.25

None

None

(5)

Supply of alcoholic beverages

11.01

11.02

11.03

11.04

11.05

47.00.25

None

None

Reason

There is no reason to allow alcohol made of other non-distilled fermented beverages, such as vermouth, to be taxed at a reduced rate.

Amendment 6

Number 7

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(7)

Supply, hire, maintenance and repair of means of transport

29

30

33.15

33.16

45

47.00.81

77.1

77.34

77.35

77.39.13

Supply, hire, maintenance and repair of bicycles, baby carriages and invalid carriages

….

30.92

33.17.19

47.00.45

47.00.75

77.21.10

77.29.19

95.29.12

29.10.24

45.11.245.11.3

(7)

Supply, hire, maintenance and repair of means of transport

29

30

33.15

33.16

45

47.00.81

77.1

77.34

77.35

77.39.13

Supply, hire, maintenance and repair of bicycles (including e-bicycles), e-scooters , baby carriages and invalid carriages

…..

30.92

33.17.19

47.00.45

47.00.75

77.21.10

77.29.19

95.29.12

29.10.24

45.11.245.11.3

Reason

It should be spelled out that Member States may also apply a reduced tax rate to e-bikes and e-scooters. E-bikes and e-scooters play an important role in mobility.

Amendment 7

Number 10

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(10)

Supply of computer, electronic and optical products; supply of watches

26

47.00.3

47.00.82

47.00.83

47.00.88

None

None

(10)

Supply of computer, electronic and optical products; supply of watches

26

47.00.3

47.00.82

47.00.83

47.00.88

Irradiation, electromedical and electrotherapeutic equipment; spectacles and contact lenses

26.60

32.50.4

Reason

Member States should be able to apply reduced tax rates to spectacles and contact lenses, as well as pacemakers and hearing aids.

Amendment 8

Number 15

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(15)

Supply of financial and insurance services

64

65

66

None

None

(15)

Supply of financial services

64

66

None

None

Reason

Under Article 135(1)(a) of Directive 2006/112/EC the Member States are required to exempt insurance and reinsurance transactions, including related services performed by insurance brokers and insurance agents, from tax.

The Commission proposal thus contradicts the text of Directive 2006/112/EC.

Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the special scheme for small enterprises

(COM(2018) 21 final)

Amendment 9

Recital (13)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Furthermore, in order to ensure compliance with conditions for exemption granted by a Member State to enterprises not established there, it is necessary to require prior notification of their intention to use the exemption. Such notification should be made by the small enterprise to the Member State where it is established . That Member State should thereafter, based on the information declared on the turnover of that enterprise, provide that information to the other Member States concerned.

Furthermore, in order to ensure compliance with conditions for exemption granted by a Member State to enterprises not established there, it is necessary to require prior notification of their intention to use the exemption. Such notification should be made through an online portal set up by the Commission. The Member State of establishment should thereafter, based on the information declared on the turnover of that enterprise, provide that information to the other Member States concerned.

Reason

This amendment goes with the amendment to Article 1(12) — it reproduces the proposal set out in the draft report presented to the European Parliament by T. Vandenkendelaere (EPP/BE).

Amendment 10

Article 1(12)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 284 is replaced by the following:

Article 284 is replaced by the following:

‘Article 284

‘Article 284

1.   Member States may exempt the supply of goods and services made within their territory by small enterprises established in that territory whose Member State annual turnover, attributable to such supplies, does not exceed a threshold fixed by those Member States for the application of this exemption.

1.   Member States may exempt the supply of goods and services made within their territory by small enterprises established in that territory whose Member State annual turnover, attributable to such supplies, does not exceed a threshold fixed by those Member States for the application of this exemption.

Member States may fix varying thresholds for different business sectors based on objective criteria. However, those thresholds shall be no higher than EUR 85 000 or the equivalent in national currency.

Member States may fix varying thresholds based on objective criteria. However, those thresholds shall be no higher than EUR 100 000 or the equivalent in national currency.

2.   Member States that have put in place the exemption for small enterprises shall also exempt the supplies of goods and services in their own territory made by enterprises established in another Member State, provided that the following conditions are fulfilled:

a)

the Union annual turnover of that small enterprise does not exceed EUR 100 000 ;

b)

the value of the supplies in the Member State where the enterprise is not established does not exceed the threshold applicable in that Member State for the granting of the exemption to enterprises established in that Member State.

2.   Member States that have put in place the exemption for small enterprises shall also exempt the supplies of goods and services in their own territory made by enterprises established in another Member State, provided that the following conditions are fulfilled:

a)

the Union annual turnover of that small enterprise does not exceed EUR 100 000 ;

b)

the value of the supplies in the Member State where the enterprise is not established does not exceed the threshold applicable in that Member State for the granting of the exemption to enterprises established in that Member State.

3.   Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that small enterprises benefiting from the exemption satisfy the conditions referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2.

3.   Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that small enterprises benefiting from the exemption satisfy the conditions referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2.

4.    Prior to availing itself of the exemption in other Member States, the small enterprise shall notify the Member State in which it is established .

4.    The Commission shall set up an online portal through which small enterprises wishing to avail themselves of the exemption in an other Member State can register .

Where a small enterprise avails itself of the exemption in Member States other than that in which it is established, the Member State of establishment shall take all measures necessary to ensure the accurate declaration of the Union annual turnover and the Member State annual turnover by the small enterprise and shall inform the tax authorities of the other Member States concerned in which the small enterprise carries out a supply.’;

Where a small enterprise avails itself of the exemption in Member States other than that in which it is established, the Member State of establishment shall take all measures necessary to ensure the accurate declaration of the Union annual turnover and the Member State annual turnover by the small enterprise and shall inform the tax authorities of the other Member States concerned in which the small enterprise carries out a supply.’;

Reason

The subsidiarity principle would require the national threshold to be a matter of national competence, which means that a threshold other than the proposed common EU threshold of EUR 100 000 should not be introduced. It is good to allow different national thresholds because this increases flexibility, but limiting the option to different business sectors could make it difficult to know where to draw the line.

Amendment 11

Article 1(15)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

the following Article 288a is inserted:

the following Article 288a is inserted:

‘Article 288a

‘Article 288a

Where during a subsequent calendar year the Member State annual turnover of a small enterprise exceeds the exemption threshold referred to in Article 284(1), the small enterprise shall be able to continue to benefit from the exemption for that year, provided that its Member State annual turnover during that year does not exceed the threshold set out in Article 284(1) by more than 50 % .’;

Where during a subsequent calendar year the Member State annual turnover of a small enterprise exceeds the exemption threshold referred to in Article 284(1), the small enterprise shall be able to continue to benefit from the exemption for that year, provided that its Member State annual turnover during that year does not exceed the threshold set out in Article 284(1) by more than 33 % .’;

Reason

The provision reduces ‘cliff-edge’ effects, but it could distort competition for companies that are unable to benefit from the exemption. The amount by which the threshold may be exceeded should therefore be reduced from 50 % to 33 %.

II.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

1.

welcomes the Commission’s initiative to reform the EU’s existing VAT system in order to better support a functioning internal market and ensure that VAT rules are adapted to changes in the global and digital economy;

2.

notes, however, that it is important for the proposal to avoid distortions of competition and increased red tape and higher business costs for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), not to mention local and regional authorities;

3.

believes that differences in VAT rules and rates have a particularly big impact on border regions and on the activities of SMEs in those regions, and that it is therefore necessary to assess the territorial impact of the proposals with a view to allowing greater flexibility in setting VAT rates as well as the thresholds proposed;

Common rules on VAT rates

4.

endorses the Commission’s proposal that goods and services should be taxed on the basis of the destination principle, since this involves less risk of distorting competition;

5.

supports Article 98(1) and (2) of the proposal for a Directive whereby Member States may apply a maximum of two reduced tax rates of at least 5 % and one reduced tax rate for which no minimum of 5 % is required, as well as an exemption with the right to deduct input VAT;

6.

welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a list (Annex IIIa) of products on which the VAT rate may not be reduced, rather than, as hitherto, having a list (also including various temporary derogations) of products on which the VAT rate is allowed to be lower than the standard rate. The proposal provides greater flexibility for individual Member States and eliminates the lack of tax neutrality due to the fact that certain Member States cannot replicate the reduced VAT rates that other Member States apply to certain products. It is important to point out that the purpose of the list is to avoid distortions of competition and that it should not be used to achieve other political aims;

7.

considers that the present rules not only result in a lack of fiscal neutrality between the Member States, but prevent opportunities for technological development from being exploited since the same goods/services are taxed at different rates depending on the form of distribution. A striking example of this is the prohibition of reduced VAT on digital publications such as newspapers, audio books and music streaming. This has notably hit the newspaper industry at a time when it is undergoing major structural changes, with the increasing digitisation of media consumption, and when the significance of newspapers for democracy cannot be underestimated;

8.

assumes that Article 98(3) will apply for goods and services that are typically bought by individual consumers. When this has been established, it should be possible to sell goods and services with a reduced tax rate even if the transactions involve both businesses and private individuals;

9.

notes that the expression ‘final consumer’ could lead to certain implementation problems. The final consumer in the context of VAT might be a private individual, a non-taxable legal person or a taxable person conducting an activity that is exempt without the right to deduct VAT. However, the explanatory memorandum indicates that the final consumer is the person who acquires goods and services for personal use. Given that legal persons can also be final consumers, the CoR believes that the requirement should also include such persons;

10.

supports the proposal to allow the weighted average rate (WAR) to exceed 12 % in order to ensure that Member States’ revenues are protected;

11.

points out that greater flexibility in setting VAT rates could make things complicated, especially for SMEs, which do not have the resources and systems available to large companies to enable them to manage a number of different tax rates in their cross-border transactions;

12.

urges the European Commission to set up an electronic portal, for example by further developing the existing TEDB web portal, to allow businesses to keep track of the different VAT systems in all the EU Member States and, in the framework of the conditions for exemption granted by a Member State to enterprises not established there, to provide notification of their intention to avail themselves of the exemption. This tool should be easy to access, reliable and available in all the official EU languages;

13.

also calls on the Commission to extend the scope for using the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) scheme when this proposal is implemented. The MOSS scheme will be particularly important for the administrative processing of VAT in the country of destination;

14.

believes that greater flexibility in setting VAT rates could make it more difficult to determine how a transaction involving several supplies should be taxed. This affects the applicable tax rate, the taxable amount, the type of invoice, and the country considered the country of taxation. It can lead to problems with invoicing and generate uncertainty, costs and disputes, as the issue may be dealt with in different ways in different Member States. The Commission should therefore provide clear guidelines on how transactions involving several supplies are to be managed;

Simplifying the rules for small enterprises

15.

welcomes the European Commission’s proposal to give Member States more scope to simplify VAT procedures for small companies. It is still important to improve tax efficiency and combat fraud so as to avoid distortions of competition and safeguard Member States’ tax revenues;

16.

endorses the proposed definition of a ‘small enterprise’ as a business with a Union annual turnover in the single market of less than EUR 2 million;

17.

points out that the fragmentation and complexity of the VAT system result in major compliance costs for businesses involved in cross-border transactions. These costs are disproportionately high for SMEs, which form the backbone of the economy and the basis for employment at regional level, in particular for small businesses with a turnover of up to EUR 2 million. These companies make up about 98 % of all EU enterprises, and contribute approximately 15 % of total turnover and around 25 % of net VAT revenue;

18.

points out that in relation to the supply of electronic services it can be difficult to establish in which Member State the customer is located. In some cases the red tape involved for small companies to determine this to the satisfaction of the tax authorities can be such as to deter them from doing business with customers in other Member States. To reduce the regulatory burden for small businesses with a turnover of less than EUR 2 million within the Union, these should be able as an alternative to charge the highest applicable VAT rate within the Union for a given service;

19.

shares the Commission’s view that the costs of complying with the VAT system should be as low as possible, and is pleased that the proposal is expected to reduce SMEs’ VAT compliance costs by up to 18 % per year;

20.

supports the proposal to make the exemption accessible to all small businesses that are established in another Member State, on condition that their annual turnover within the EU does not exceed EUR 100 000, but thinks it is necessary to assess the risk of growth-hampering effects. Exceeding the ceiling could represent a considerable business cost for a company that has been exempt from tax and has therefore had a considerably lower administrative burden;

21.

welcomes the proposal to allow small businesses to issue simplified invoices, as well as the proposal not to require businesses that are exempt from VAT to issue invoices;

22.

endorses the proposal to allow small businesses to submit VAT returns for a period of one calendar year;

23.

wonders why VAT-exempt businesses are released from all accounting and storage obligations. There is a risk that such a concession could be abused because it will be difficult for Member States to check whether a company is exceeding the threshold;

24.

notes that in several Member States measures are being taken to simplify the registration of new companies, with the aim of improving the business environment, although this could also increase the risk of so-called carousel fraud. During 2014 alone, the VAT leakage from carousel fraud was estimated at EUR 50 billion. It is important to improve tax efficiency and combat fraud so that leakage decreases.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/52


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Digital Education Action Plan

(2018/C 461/08)

Rapporteur-general:

Domenico GAMBACORTA (IT/EPP), President of the Province of Avellino

Reference document:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the Digital Education Action Plan

COM(2018) 22 final

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

Key messages

1.

underlines that education, since the Bologna process, has been playing a crucial role in creating a European space for dialogue and cooperation about the fundamental principles — freedom of expression, tolerance, freedom of research, free movement of students and staff, student involvement and the co-creation of lifelong learning — that reflect the basic values of present-day European society;

2.

points out that the commitment of EU Member States to providing young people with the ‘best education and training’ has been confirmed in recent declarations (Bratislava, September 2016; Rome, March 2017) and summits (Tallinn, May 2017; Gothenburg, November 2017; Brussels, January 2018);

3.

highlights how the digital revolution will continue to significantly change the way Europeans live, study, work and relate to one another and that digital skills and competences are fundamental alongside literacy and numeracy, in order to help citizens to meet the challenges of a constantly moving, globalised and interconnected world;

4.

agrees that acquisition of digital skills and competences needs to start at an early age and carry on throughout life, as part of educational curricula for early childhood and adult education;

5.

recognises that developing the digital skills of the EU workforce is essential to tackle the transformation of the labour market and to avoid skill gaps or mismatches;

6.

sees digital education as a necessity and an opportunity to address educational challenges, e.g. providing scope for more personalised and inclusive teaching for persons with special educational needs and disabilities, migrants and persons in Member States’ care systems;

7.

points out that the development of digital competences is a wonderful tool for developing new entrepreneurial talent, for achieving autonomy in carrying out individual or complementary tasks, as well as for working in multidisciplinary or geographically diverse teams;

8.

emphasises the potential of digital transformation for upward mobility, shaping better educated and informed citizens, stimulating civic engagement, democratising knowledge, enhancing access to and the consumption and production of information, with a view to ensuring a healthy digital identity and active and responsible digital citizens;

9.

stresses that ill-prepared users are particularly prone to suffer from the many risks hidden in an unaware use of digital resources, including cyberbullying, phishing, ‘sexting’, ‘sextortion’, IGD (Internet Gaming Disorder), digital work-related stress symptoms, FOMO (‘Fear Of Missing Out’);

10.

requires that a greater focus must be put on strengthening adults’, children’s and young people’s critical thinking and media literacy so they can judge and overcome the overwhelming diffusion of fake news and the risks of an uncritical use of information available on the web or digitally accessible information;

11.

indicates the risk that the massive introduction of algorithms and machine learning systems based on artificial intelligence and data analytics poses to pedagogical freedom as well as neutrality, data security and privacy concerns;

12.

mentions some results provided by ‘The Survey of Schools: ICT in Education’ (1) (2013), which found that:

infrastructure provision at school level varies considerably between countries,

only around 50 % of students in the EU are taught by a teacher who has a positive attitude about his or her ability to integrate digital technologies in a pedagogically valuable fashion into teaching activities,

only around 25-30 % of students are taught by teachers for whom ICT training is compulsory;

13.

points out consequently the crucial role of teachers and educators in guiding learners toward innovative practices of knowledge creation through appropriate links between formal, non-formal and informal learning, assuming that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to scaling up digital innovations in education;

14.

highlights that teachers, school directors and other educational operators need support and relevant training to efficiently find their way to combine traditional education methodologies with the opportunities provided by digital technologies;

15.

suggests to this aim a cooperation between private and public stakeholders, involving educational technology suppliers, via sectoral organisations where they exist, in order to provide teachers training together with free digital educational materials, also resolving cross-border copyright issues;

16.

points out the risks of large digital companies, and GAFAM in particular (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) imposing their standards in education, by providing their hardware and/or software and educational resources, for which it would be necessary to establish rigorous controls in relation to data protection and copyright;

17.

stresses the need to reduce the existing digital divide considering the different determinants of the phenomenon, e.g. residence in different geographical and demographic contexts, languages of communication, different educational levels, gender- and age-specific differences, possible disability, belonging to disadvantaged socioeconomic groups;

18.

insists on the need to better exploit EU financial support in order to ensure that schools and educational establishments — including not only establishments providing compulsory education, but also those covering other stages of education, such as early childhood and adult education establishments, schools of music, etc. so as to guarantee access to lifelong learning — can be equipped with the necessary high-speed and high quality broadband infrastructure, in particular those located in geographically, demographically or socially challenges areas;

19.

suggests that, coherently with the implementation of digital innovative resources and practices, new assessment resources and techniques should be tested, such as rubrics, and then introduced in combination with more traditional ones, to exploit the potential that rapid feedback loops offer for a more personalised and efficient learning process;

20.

remarks that, in accordance with the principles inspiring the Lifelong Learning Platform, in order to achieve enhanced learning experiences and outcomes, the place of the learner must be at the centre, sharing goals on the basis of his views and values, so avoiding the risk of a role of passive technology consumers;

21.

welcomes the Digital Education Action Plan (DEAP) as short-medium term tool for the stimulation, implementation and scaling up of purposeful use of digital and innovative education practices in schools, VET and higher education as part of the ‘European Education Area’ and the ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’ (2), complementing the ‘Recommendations on Common Values and Key Competences’;

22.

recognises that the priorities set out in the DEAP are in line with the complex and numerous challenges posed by the digital revolution;

23.

believes that the DEAP Plan should be adequately supported by the new Multiannual Financial Framework as well as from resources from national budgets to be allocated not only to connectivity and infrastructures but also to development of digital skills and competences at all levels of education;

24.

emphasises that, to integrate digital technology into our educational systems and to actually achieve the goals of the DEAP, a more fruitful cooperation of all the involved and potential stakeholders is a prerequisite, ensuring convergence, synergies and a cross-disciplinary expertise as well as interoperability of the various systems;

25.

considers it vital to ensure a significant effort to coordinate and to integrate all the initiatives and actions also improving dissemination policies, in order to avoid that available opportunities are mainly exploited by educational and political institutions which are better capable to cope with the ‘jungle’ of calls for funding supports;

26.

recalls the fundamental role of local and regional authorities in the implementation of education and training policies and that therefore the process of adapting the education systems to the standards of the digital era should involve all levels of governance (European, national, regional and local).

Making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning: digital competences and skills for the digital transformation

27.

points out that, even if the access to digital infrastructure is only one aspect of the digital divide, the lack of funding and insufficient and inoperative equipment and bandwidth still represent a barrier for the use of ICT for teaching and learning;

28.

calls for support for the creation of national strategies and frameworks, for more dialogue between stakeholders, and for more support for teachers to gain new methodological expertise;

29.

hopes for the launch of a vast campaign of training initiatives for teachers and educational operators to strengthen their actual digital skills, with particular reference to those with low aptitude and experience in digital technologies;

30.

welcomes EU support for the digital readiness of both general and vocational schools by strengthening their digital competences and by making the SELFIE self-assessment tool reach one million teachers, trainers and learners by end of 2019, in synergy with any assessment tools adopted by individual Member States;

31.

points out that ICT contributes to innovation in processes and organisational arrangements, and considers tools such as the European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) useful for referencing ICT competences and skills across Europe;

32.

recognises the added value of a voucher scheme, focusing on disadvantaged areas, and of implementation of an appropriate toolkit for rural areas;

33.

approves of a framework for issuing digitally-certified qualifications and validating digitally-acquired skills that are trusted and multilingual and considers it crucial that the framework be fully aligned with the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF) and the European Classification of Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO);

34.

encourages cooperation between industry and education and other forms of public-private partnerships in order to develop digital competency training programmes and to ensure that digital careers are equally accessible, regardless of socioeconomic background or physical disabilities.

Developing relevant digital competences and skills for the digital transformation

35.

points out that school communities need to support all learners and respond to their specific needs in order to ensure full inclusion;

36.

considers it crucial to reduce the learning gap between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and to capitalise on the potential of personalised teaching and new learning tools, and to benefit fully from open educational resources and open science;

37.

hopes for the development of a Europe-wide platform for digital higher education offering learning, blended mobility, virtual campuses and exchange of best practices among higher education institutions;

38.

welcomes the new European Digital Competence Framework for Educators offering guidance in developing digital competence models;

39.

underlines the importance of promoting and facilitating the development of teachers’ digital skills from an integrated perspective and within a Framework of Professional Skills for Teachers, covering the initial, access and ongoing training of teachers;

40.

acknowledges the importance of mobility and therefore calls to strengthen the focus of the next Erasmus+ programme and other relevant EU funding programmes to support the adaptation of education and training to the digital age;

41.

underlines the importance of cooperation in education and of concerted efforts. Calls for a joint European platform open to various stakeholders, in order to develop benchmarks and indicators to monitor more closely progress in ICTs by various education providers in schools and other learning environments. This work needs to be undertaken in close cooperation between the Member States, in order to capitalise on past experience, identify existing monitoring methods, etc.;

42.

stresses the importance of digital competences for all citizens as in the revised European Reference Framework of Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, including the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens in five areas (information and data literacy; communication and collaboration; digital content and creation; safety and well-being; and problem-solving); and encourages teaching and learning in which digital competences are integrated into the other skills to be developed;

43.

supports the proposed (i) EU-wide awareness-raising campaign targeting educators, families and learners to foster online safety, cyber hygiene and media literacy; and (ii) the cyber-security teaching initiative building on the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens, to empower people; and (iii) efforts to promote and disseminate good practices in order to be able to use technology confidently and responsibly;

44.

encourages the entrepreneurial spirit of regions and cities and the move towards open innovation, within a human-centred vision of partnerships between public and private sector actors, universities and citizens;

45.

expects to be kept updated on the policy lessons from how the actions are implemented and to be invited to contribute to the emerging discussion on future European cooperation in education and training.

Improving education through better data analysis and foresight

46.

hopes for the adoption of a shared and common methodological framework for the definition of indicators able to capture the digital divide and calls for a significant effort to build and collect reliable and easily accessible data for its evaluation and monitoring;

47.

draws attention to issues that arise when personal data and student files are stored with private operators, often in another part of the world. In particular, specific attention has to be paid to whether these operators are prepared to sign user agreements with numerous local, regional and national authorities;

48.

also raises concerns about ‘data mining’, i.e. how to respond to businesses using pupils’ and school employees’ data to be sold to others, and notes that it is also important, not least for local and regional authorities, to clarify how long relevant administrative data and similar documents can be kept publicly accessible;

49.

looks forward to the launch of planned pilots to leverage the available data and to help the implementation and monitoring of education policy and also welcomes the planned toolkit and guidance for Member States;

50.

considers it important to initiate strategic foresight on key trends arising from digital transformation for the future of education systems, in close cooperation with Member State experts — and including the local and regional level representatives — and making use of existing and future channels of EU-wide cooperation on education and training;

51.

encourages user-driven innovation as key for early adoption of innovation solutions that tackle educational challenges. The user’s perspective is often not sufficiently considered, which could limit the possible solutions to a challenge; and welcomes, in this context, the exploration of ways of promoting citizen engagement, participation and user-driven innovation;

52.

highlights that this Action Plan should also support the European Semester, a key driver for reform through the education- and training-related country-specific recommendations;

53.

supports the efforts to advance governance of school education systems and recalls that good Multi-Level Governance (MLG) can improve performance in education and training, strengthen participation, nurture the establishment of innovative mechanisms, promote an inclusive education system designed to look at the whole person and develop lifelong learning systems;

54.

welcomes the dialogue announced by the EU Commission on the implementation of the proposed actions and measures and expresses its availability to engage and continue to cooperate with the EU Commission, along with Member States, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the European Investment Bank Group, to take forward the proposed agenda and ensure alignment with priorities in current and future EU funding programmes.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  Survey of Schools: ICT in Education. Benchmarking access, use and attitudes to technology in Europe’s schools. Final study report, European Commission, 2013.

(2)  COM(2016) 381.


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/57


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Building a stronger Europe: the role of youth, education and culture policies

(2018/C 461/09)

Rapporteur-General:

Gillian FORD (UK/EA), Member of London Borough of Havering

Reference documents:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Building a stronger Europe: the role of youth, education and culture policies,

COM(2018) 268 final

and

Proposals for Council recommendations on

Promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad,

COM(2018) 270 final;

High quality early childhood education and care systems,

COM(2018) 271 final;

Comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages,

COM(2018) 272 final

I.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad

Article 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

(d)

developing quality assurance instruments in online education and training.

Reason

In some areas, particularly more remote or sparsely populated regions, education, learning and qualifications are increasingly accessed digitally; it is essential that these qualifications are quality assured to enable automatic mutual recognition.

Amendment 2

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad

Article 6

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

6.   Facilitate mobility and recognition of the outcomes of learning periods abroad during secondary education and training by:

6.   Facilitate mobility of all students — regardless of the country where they live — a nd recognition of the outcomes of learning periods abroad during secondary education and training by:

[…]

[…]

(c)

promoting the benefits of mobility among secondary education and training institutions and learners and their families and promoting the benefits of hosting mobility among employers.

(c)

promoting the benefits of mobility among secondary education and training institutions, learners and their families and promoting the benefits of hosting mobility among employers.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 3

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad

Article 8

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

8.   Explore good practice with regard to the recognition of prior learning and permeability between education and training sectors, in particular between vocational education and training and higher education.

8.   Explore and promote good practice with regard to the recognition of prior learning and permeability between:

(a)

education and training sectors, in particular between vocational education and training and higher education; and

(b)

education and training sectors and the labour market.

Reason

Qualifications and learning periods abroad should be recognised by employers to improve labour mobility and life chances and opportunities.

Amendment 4

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad

Article 9

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Improve the evidence base by collecting and disseminating data on the number and type of recognition cases.

Improve the evidence base by collecting and disseminating data on the number, type , and outcomes of recognition cases.

Reason

Outcome learning can enhance and improve the recognition process.

Amendment 5

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Recital (8)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(8)

The availability, accessibility and affordability of high quality childcare facilities are furthermore key factors that allow women, and also men, with care responsibilities to participate in the labour market, as recognised by the 2002 Barcelona European Council, the European Pact for Gender Equality and the Commission’s Work-Life Balance Communication adopted on 26 April 2017. Women’s employment is directly contributing to improving the socioeconomic situation of the household and to economic growth.

(8)

The availability, accessibility and affordability of high quality childcare facilities are furthermore key factors that allow women, and also men, with care responsibilities to participate in the labour market, as recognised by the 2002 Barcelona European Council, the European Pact for Gender Equality and the Commission’s Work-Life Balance Communication adopted on 26 April 2017 , and should be promoted in line with principle 2 of the European Pillar of Social Rights . Women’s employment is directly contributing to improving the socioeconomic situation of the household and to economic growth.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 6

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Recital (23)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(23)

This Recommendation seeks to establish a shared understanding of what quality means in the early childhood education and care system. It sets out possible actions for governments to consider, according to their specific circumstances. This Recommendation also addresses parents, institutions and organisations, including social partners and civil society organisations seeking to enhance the sector.

(23)

This Recommendation seeks to establish a shared understanding of what quality means in the early childhood education and care system. It sets out possible actions for all the relevant levels of governance, including local and regional, to consider, according to their specific circumstances. This Recommendation also addresses parents, institutions and organisations, including social partners and civil society organisations seeking to enhance the sector.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 7

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Article 2

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

2.    Work towards ensuring that early childhood education and care services are accessible, affordable and inclusive. Consideration could be given to:

2.    Ensure that early childhood education and care services are accessible, affordable, sufficient and inclusive. Consideration could be given , at all levels of governance including regional and local, to:

Reason

Strengthening the recommendation and emphasising the key role played here by local and regional governments.

Amendment 8

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Article 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

3.   Support the professionalisation of early childhood education and care staff. Depending on the existing level of professional qualification and working conditions, successful efforts can include:

3.   Support the professionalisation of early childhood education and care staff. Depending on the existing level of professional qualification and working conditions, successful efforts can include:

[…]

[…]

(d)

aiming at equipping staff with the competences to respond to the individual needs of children from difference background and with a special educational need or disability, preparing staff to manage diverse groups.

(d)

equipping staff with the competences to respond to the individual needs of children from difference background and with a special educational need or disability, preparing staff to manage diverse groups.

Reason

Strengthening the recommendation.

Amendment 9

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Article 4

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

4.   Enhance the development of early years’ curricula in order to meet the wellbeing and educational needs of children. Approaches supporting curriculum development and social, emotional, learning and linguistic competences of children could include:

4.   Enhance the development of early years’ curricula in order to meet the health, wellbeing and educational needs of all children. Approaches supporting curriculum development and social, emotional, learning and linguistic competences of children could include:

 

(a)

ensuring a balance in the provision of social-emotional, wellbeing and learning, acknowledging the importance of play, contact with nature, the role of music, arts and physical activity;

 

(a)

ensuring a balance in the provision of social-emotional, wellbeing and learning, acknowledging the importance of play, contact with nature, the role of music, arts and physical activity;

 

(b)

fostering empathy, compassion and awareness in relation to equality and diversity;

 

(b)

fostering empathy, compassion and awareness in relation to equality and diversity;

 

(c)

offering opportunities for early language exposition and learning through playful activities; and considering bilingual early childhood programmes;

 

(c)

offering opportunities for early language exposition and learning through playful activities; and considering bilingual early childhood programmes;

 

(d)

offering guidance for providers on the age-appropriate use of digital tools and emerging new technologies;

 

(d)

offering guidance for providers on the age-appropriate use of digital tools and emerging new technologies;

 

(e)

promoting further integration of early childhood education and care in the education continuum and supporting collaboration of early childhood education and care and primary school staff and smooth transition for children to primary school.

 

(e)

promoting further integration of early childhood education and care in the education continuum and supporting collaboration of early childhood education and care and primary school staff and smooth transition for children to primary school;

 

 

(f)

providing dedicated support and learning opportunities to those children with special educational needs and disabilities;

 

 

(g)

providing dedicated support and learning opportunities to migrant children, including the situation whereby large numbers of Europeans are returning due to political and humanitarian crises;

 

 

(h)

providing dedicated support and learning opportunities to children in Member State care systems;

 

 

(i)

promoting the early care model for children of 0-6 years.

Reason

Children with special educational needs and disabilities, as well as migrant children, may need dedicated support to access the full range of opportunities provided by the early years curricula and Member States should be encouraged to ensure this is provided.

Amendment 10

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Article 6

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

6.   Aim at ensuring adequate funding and a legal framework for the provision of early childhood education and care services. Consideration could be given to:

6.   Aim at ensuring adequate funding and a legal framework for the provision of early childhood education and care services. Consideration could be given to:

 

(a)

scaling up investment in early childhood education and care with a focus on availability, quality and affordability, including making use of the funding opportunities offered by the European structural and investment funds;

 

(a)

scaling up investment in early childhood education and care with a focus on availability, accessibility, quality and affordability, including making use of the funding opportunities offered by the European structural and investment funds;

 

(b)

creating and maintaining tailored national or regional Quality Frameworks;

 

(b)

creating and maintaining tailored national or regional Quality Frameworks;

 

(c)

promoting further integration of services for families and children, most importantly with social and health services;

 

(c)

promoting further integration of services for families and children at a local and regional level , most importantly with social and health and wellbeing services;

 

(d)

embedding robust child protection/safeguarding policies within the early childhood education and care system to help protect children from all forms of violence.

 

(d)

embedding robust child protection/safeguarding policies within the early childhood education and care system to help protect children from all forms of abuse and violence.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 11

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Article 8

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

8.   Facilitate the exchange or experiences and good practices among Member States in the context of the Strategic Framework of cooperation in education and training and successor schemes, as well as in the Social Protection Committee.

8.   Facilitate the exchange or experiences and good practices among Member States , at all levels of governance, in the context of the Strategic Framework of cooperation in education and training and successor schemes, as well as in the Social Protection Committee.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 12

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems

Article 9

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

9.   Support the cooperation of Member States, based on their demand, by organising peer learning and peer counselling.

9.   Support the cooperation of Member States at all levels of governance , based on their demand, by organising peer learning and peer counselling.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 13

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

Recital (1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(1)

In the Communication ‘Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture’ the European Commission sets out the vision of a European Education Area in which high-quality, inclusive education, training and research are not hampered by borders; spending time in another Member State to study, learn or work has become the standard; speaking two languages in addition to one’s mother tongue is far more widespread; and people have a strong sense of their identity as Europeans, as well as an awareness of Europe’s cultural heritage and its diversity.

(1)

In the Communication ‘Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture’ the European Commission sets out the vision of a European Education Area in which high-quality, inclusive education, training and research are not hampered by borders; spending time in another Member State to study, learn or work has become the standard; speaking two languages in addition to one’s mother tongue is far more widespread; and people have a strong sense of their identity as Europeans, as well as an awareness of Europe’s cultural heritage and its diversity and opportunities .

Reason

Important to highlight here that the value of the European Education Area includes its ability to pave the way for more opportunities.

Amendment 14

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

Article (1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(1)

Explore ways to help all young people to acquire — in addition to the language of schooling — proficient user level in at least one other European language before the end of upper secondary education and training and encourage the acquisition of an additional (third) language to the level of independent user.

(1)

Explore ways to help all young people to acquire — in addition to the language of schooling — proficient user level in at least one other European language before the end of upper secondary education and training and encourage the acquisition of an additional (third) language to the level of independent user , including particular emphasis on oral language practice and experience, and ensuring adequate access to quality tuition for all learners .

Reason

Stakeholders emphasised the importance of speaking additional languages in addition to reading and writing, with this being key to unlocking mobility and opportunities. It was also noted that, where quality language tuition is not available, those with more resources may turn to private language lessons which is not possible for those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, reinforcing the opportunity gap between different social groups.

Amendment 15

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

Article (4)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(4)

As part of such comprehensive strategies, support the development of language awareness in schools and training centres by:

(4)

As part of such comprehensive strategies, support the development of language awareness in schools and training centres by:

(a)

actively supporting the mobility of learners, including by making use of opportunities provided by the relevant EU funding programmes;

(a)

actively supporting the mobility of learners, including by making use of opportunities provided by the relevant EU funding programmes;

(b)

enabling teachers to address the use of specific language in his or her respective subject area;

(b)

enabling teachers to address the use of specific language in his or her respective subject area;

(c)

strengthening the competence in the language of schooling as the basis for further learning and educational achievement in school for all learners, and especially those from migrant or disadvantaged backgrounds;

(c)

strengthening the competence in the language of schooling as the basis for further learning and educational achievement in school for all learners, and especially those from migrant backgrounds, including the situation whereby large numbers of Europeans are returning due to political and humanitarian crises, or disadvantaged backgrounds or those with special educational needs and disabilities;

(d)

valuing linguistic diversity of learners and using it as a learning resource including involving parents and the wider local community in language education;

(d)

valuing linguistic diversity of learners and using it as a learning resource including involving parents and the wider local community in language education;

(e)

offering opportunities to assess and validate languages competences that are not part of the curriculum, but have been acquired by learners elsewhere, including through expanding the range of languages that can be added to learners’ school leaving qualifications.

(e)

offering opportunities to assess and validate languages competences that are not part of the curriculum, but have been acquired by learners elsewhere, including through expanding the range of languages that can be added to learners’ school leaving qualifications.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 16

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

Article (5)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(5)

Support teachers, trainers and school leaders in the development of language awareness by:

(5)

Support teachers, trainers and school leaders in the development of language awareness by:

(a)

investing in the initial and continuing education of language teachers to maintain a broad language offer in compulsory education and training;

(a)

investing in the initial and continuing education of language teachers to attract and retain staff in order to maintain a broad language offer in compulsory education and training;

(b)

including preparation for linguistic diversity in the classroom in initial education and continuous professional development of teachers and school leaders;

(b)

including preparation for linguistic diversity in the classroom in initial education and continuous professional development , including informal and non-formal learning, of teachers and school leaders;

Reason

Local communities provide a wealth of opportunity for improving language awareness amongst teachers, for example through parents and carers, faith groups and community organisations.

Amendment 17

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

Article (6)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

6)

Encourage research in and use of innovative, inclusive and multilingual pedagogies, including the use of digital tools and Content and Language Integrated Learning.

(6)

Encourage research in and use of innovative, inclusive and multilingual pedagogies, including the use of digital tools, audiovisual, cinematographic and musical works and Content and Language Integrated Learning.

Reason

Europe has a rich cultural body of audiovisual, cinematographic and musical works which can help people learn another language and also, even more importantly, to understand other cultures and common values.

Amendment 18

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

Article (8)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

(8)

Improve access to high quality digital teaching programmes for both teachers and citizens, in particular for those in more remote or more sparsely populated areas and in the outermost regions.

Reason

Higher quality digital language programmes can be more expensive to access than more basic programmes, while broadband connectivity is neither fast enough nor reliable enough in some areas to facilitate online language learning where there is a lack of teachers.

Amendment 19

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

Intention (1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(1)

Support the follow-up of this Recommendation by facilitating mutual learning among Member States and developing in cooperation with Member States:

(1)

Support the follow-up of this Recommendation by facilitating mutual learning among Member States and developing in cooperation with Member States and drawing on the experience of relevant cross-border and territorial cooperation projects implemented by local and regional authorities, where appropriate :

Reason

Self-explanatory.

II.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General comments

1.

Reiterates its calls for an encompassing and forward-looking approach to the future of education across the EU, including strengthened cooperation of public and private sectors, to support citizens in adapting to an increasingly complex and diverse society, developing a ‘European identity’ that should complement national, regional, local and individual identity, gaining the skills needed in a society that is mobile and increasingly digital;

2.

Supports the intention of the European Commission to coordinate progress towards the European Education Area by 2025 around key challenges including improving early years provision, facilitating the mutual recognition of higher education and school leaving diplomas, improving language learning, promoting life-long learning, student mobility and investing in digitalisation opportunities;

3.

Believes that education policy strategies in Member States and regions should prioritise cooperation at all levels of governance, including local and regional authorities, with a view to aligning high quality learner-centred education, featuring strong teaching, innovation and digitalisation, with the needs of the dynamically evolving labour market, in the context of principle 1 of the European Pillar of Social Rights;

4.

Stresses that more work needs to be done at all levels of governance to anticipate labour market skills needs and deliver appropriate education, general knowledge, vocational training and life-long learning in order to stimulate the creation of jobs and find solutions for unemployment;

5.

Requires the consistency of lifelong learning and endorses the principles set out in the 2017 Unesco Global Network of Learning Cities; Cork Call to Action for Learning Cities, recognising that lifelong learning is at the heart of Sustainable Development Goals (1);

6.

Requires that the EU institutions and Member States, with the support of local and regional authorities in consultation with stakeholders, implement the current proposals within the context of broader EU policies for economic development, employment and social protection by making strategic use of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework after 2020, where specific education policies should be more clearly and more ambitiously articulated, and emphasises the importance of upholding the proportionality principle to ensure that no new financial or administrative burdens are generated for Member States;

7.

Similarly, welcomes the introduction of the European Student Card and the opportunities this will provide to facilitate student mobility and promote automatic recognition of qualifications, and calls upon the Commission to consider the extension of this to all learners, not only those in higher education, to expand opportunities for lifelong learning;

8.

Acknowledges the fact that primary responsibility for education policy lies with the Member States who have involved their regional and local authorities to different extents in accordance with their respective constitutional systems, and that EU action in line with Article 6 of the TFEU should only complement, support or coordinate the action of Member States; any EU action in this area must be fully justified from a subsidiarity and proportionality standpoint and should align with existing frameworks, tools and procedures;

Mutual recognition

9.

Notes with regret the persistent obstacles to mobility in the area of education and joins its voice with the call of the European Commission for a Europe in which learning, studying and research are not hampered by borders but where spending time in another Member State to study, learn or work is the norm;

10.

Emphasises the need to give additional support to regions where the mobility of learners may be hindered by additional obstacles such as population deficit, rurality or poverty;

11.

Welcomes the European Commission’s support for the exchange of best practice among Member States, and encourages the involvement of local and regional level representatives in this in recognition of the value of regional knowledge and experience;

12.

Welcomes the proposal of the European Commission on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education diplomas and the outcomes of learning periods abroad, and invites the Commission to take into account in its future work the links with territorial development, notably where local and regional projects involve mobility of skilled workers and staff;

Early childhood

13.

Recalls that the meaning of the term ‘early childhood education and care’ goes beyond what some refer to as pre-school education, having the purpose of preparing children not only for school, but also for life in the same way that all other parts of the education system contribute to this process;

14.

Reiterates the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning, and suggests that the EU and national decision-makers pay particular attention to the potential, in this context, of partnerships that could be developed between national, regional and local authorities, companies, employees and employee associations, as well as civil society players, to take such skills and qualifications into account;

15.

In this context, notes its disappointment that the recommendation makes only limited reference to family life or local-level interventions that can have a significant impact on a child’s early development, and emphasises the vital importance of a holistic, integrated approach;

16.

Believes that well-educated professionals are a prerequisite for high quality early childhood education, and consequently all levels of government, including local and regional, should be encouraged to invest adequately not only in initial teacher education, but also in continuous professional development;

17.

Stresses the need to work towards continuous improvement of the ‘care’ component of early childhood education and care, including the role of early childhood teachers in nurturing positive relations with children, parents and one another; ensuring the affordability of early childhood services for low-income families in accordance with principle 11 of the European Pillar of Social Rights; and recognising the principle in the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children;

18.

Highlights the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities, who should receive a good education with access to the general education system where appropriate and be provided with individual support as necessary;

19.

Notes the multiple benefits arising from the promotion of measures to facilitate a positive dialogue between teachers and parents/carers to strengthen the connections between the school and home environments and support learners’ successful integration into the school environment and their overall socialisation and development opportunities;

20.

Welcomes the Commission’s recognition of the role of local and regional partners in the improvement of teaching and learning, however notes a lack of acknowledgement that some communities will experience greater challenges than others, for example more remote communities or those with a greater number of mother tongue languages, which will require greater resources and funding to improve teaching and learning for all;

21.

Stresses that the Commission must take into consideration related Committee opinions and Council conclusions, including the Council conclusions on integrated early childhood development policies as a tool for reducing poverty and promoting social inclusion (2).

Language learning and teaching

22.

Expresses disappointment that poor language skills are considered one of the major obstacles to the free movement of people and the creation of a workforce relevant to the needs of the European economy, and therefore emphasises its support for a stronger role for language learning;

23.

Notes that funding for Cohesion Policy is expected to reduce in the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework, and consequently expresses its concerns over the available funding through the European Social Fund for delivery of the ambitions within the Recommendation;

24.

In this context, is disappointed to see a focus in the Recommendation on learning within statutory education rather than recognising languages as an important part of lifelong learning, including early years, to promote integration and mobility, and in which local community partners and businesses can engage;

25.

Emphasises the importance of actively promoting opportunities provided by relevant EU funding programmes, and simplifying application processes, so that schools and training centres across the Member States are able to take advantage of these.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  http://uil.unesco.org/lifelong-learning/learning-cities/cork-call-action-learning-cities

(2)  https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1530526890119&uri=CELEX:52018DC0270


III Preparatory acts

COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

131st CoR plenary session and opening session of the EWRC week, 8.10.2018-10.10.2018

21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/70


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — The Multiannual Financial Framework package for the years 2021-2027

(2018/C 461/10)

Rapporteur-general:

Nikola DOBROSLAVIĆ (HR, EPP), Prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County

Reference documents:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A Modern Budget for a Union that Protects, Empowers and Defends The Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027

COM(2018) 321 final

Proposal for a Council Regulation laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2021 to 2027

COM(2018) 322 final

Proposal for a Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management

COM(2018) 323 final

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of the Union’s budget in case of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States

COM(2018) 324 final

Proposal for a Council Decision on the system of Own Resources of the European Union

COM(2018) 325 final

Proposal for a Council Regulation on the methods and procedure for making available the Own Resources based on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, on the European Union Emissions Trading System and on Plastic packaging waste that is not recycled, and on the measures to meet cash requirements

COM(2018) 326 final

Proposal for a Council Regulation laying down implementing measures for the system of Own Resources of the European Union

COM(2018) 327 final

Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EEC, Euratom) No 1553/89 on the definitive uniform arrangements for the collection of own resources accruing from value added tax

COM(2018) 328 final

I.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of the Union’s budget in case of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States

COM(2018) 324 final

Amendment 1

Article 2, point (c)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

‘government entity’ means all public authorities at all levels of government, including national, regional and local authorities, as well as Member State organisations within the meaning of [point 42 of Article 2] of Regulation (EU, Euratom) xx/xx (the ‘Financial Regulation’).

(c)

‘government entity’ means all central government authorities, as well as Member State organisations within the meaning of [point 42 of Article 2] of Regulation (EU, Euratom) xx/xx (the ‘Financial Regulation’).

Reason

Need to exclude all directly elected local or regional authorities’ administrative bodies and entities from the application of the regulation.

Amendment 2

Article 3, point (1)(f)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

(f)

the effective and timely cooperation with the European Anti-fraud Office and with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in their investigations or prosecutions pursuant to their respective legal acts and to the principle of loyal cooperation.

(f)

the effective and timely cooperation with the European Anti-fraud Office and, where applicable, with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in their investigations or prosecutions pursuant to their respective legal acts and to the principle of loyal cooperation.

Reason

The provisions relating to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office can, after its establishment, only be applicable to the participating Member States.

Amendment 3

Article 4, point (1)(b)(1)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

(1)

a suspension of the approval of one or more programmes or an amendment thereof;

 

Reason

A suspension of the approval of one or more programmes or of an amendment thereof would have no direct punishing financial effects on a Member State concerned. On the contrary, a suspension of commitments and/or payments, while keeping the obligation of government entities to implement the programmes and to make payments to final recipients or beneficiaries pursuant to Article 4(2) of the proposed regulation, would have imminent effects on national budgets. In addition, a lifting of a suspension of the approval of one or more programmes or of an amendment thereof would considerably delay the implementation of concerned programmes, because all subsequent procedures would be put on hold as well.

Amendment 4

Article 5(6)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

6.   Where the Commission considers that the generalised deficiency as regards the rule of law is established, it shall submit a proposal for an implementing act on the appropriate measures to the Council.

6.   Where the Commission considers that the generalised deficiency as regards the rule of law is established, it shall submit a proposal for an implementing act on the appropriate measures to the Council. The Commission shall attach to this proposal an indicative financial programming of the EU budget concerned by the proposed measure, for the following years, structured by category of expenditure, policy area and budget line. Such indicative programming shall be the basis of an impact assessment of budgetary implications on the national and subnational budgets of the Member State concerned.

Reason

The European Commission should assess the possible budgetary implications of a reduction in EU funding for the national and subnational budgets of the Member State concerned with due regard to the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.

Amendment 5

Article 6(2)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

2.   The Commission shall assess the situation in the Member State concerned. Once the generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law which on the grounds of which the appropriate measures were adopted cease to exist in full or in part, the Commission shall submit to the Council a proposal for a decision lifting those measures in full or in part. The procedure set out in paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of Article 5 shall apply.

2.   The Commission shall assess the situation in the Member State concerned. Once the generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law which on the grounds of which the appropriate measures were adopted cease to exist in full or in part, the Commission shall submit to the Council a proposal for a decision lifting those measures in full or in part. The procedure set out in paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of Article 5 shall apply. In order to gather substantial evidence for the lifting of measures, the Court of Auditors shall, through a fast procedure, issue a special report on the matter concerned pursuant to paragraph 4, second subparagraph of Article 287 TFEU.

Reason

The lifting of measures needs to be accompanied by solid, impartial and timely evidence in order to proceed with the implementation of programmes concerned without any unnecessary delays.

Amendment 6

Article 6(3)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

3.   Where measures concerning the suspension of the approval of one or more programmes or amendments thereof referred to in point (i) of Article 4(2)(b) or the suspension of commitments referred to in point (ii) of Article 4(2)(b) are lifted, amounts corresponding to the suspended commitments shall be entered in the budget subject to Article 7 of Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) xx/xx (MFF Regulation). Suspended commitments of year n may not be entered in the budget beyond year n+ 2 .

3.   Where measures concerning the suspension of the approval of one or more programmes or amendments thereof referred to in point (i) of Article 4(2)(b) or the suspension of commitments referred to in point (ii) of Article 4(2)(b) are lifted, amounts corresponding to the suspended commitments shall be entered in the budget subject to Article 7 of Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) xx/xx (MFF Regulation). Suspended commitments of year n may not be entered in the budget beyond year n+ 3 .

Reason

This solution will make it easier to use the resources unblocked from the suspension procedure, and will mean that these resources are not lost.

II.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General comments

1.

welcomes the Commission’s proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the post-2020 period, which, in view of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU and other internal and external challenges, provides a sound basis for negotiations; acknowledges the work carried out, but is of the view that, before it is adopted, the proposal must be developed further and improved in order to meet the expectations of EU citizens and the needs of local and regional authorities;

2.

notes that there is no obvious successor to the Europe 2020 strategy, meaning that the strategic objectives of the individual programmes are not sufficiently clear and the link between the overall MFF and the sustainable development goals is inadequate; therefore calls on the Commission, in the context of the discussions on the proposed MFF, to spell out the strategic objectives for the various EU policies and their expected impact. A structured approach at national, regional and local level will be needed to make a clear link between local and regional strengths and efforts and common European objectives;

3.

notes with regret that, in view of the imbalance between obligations arising from the objectives laid down in the Treaty, as well as current and future challenges, on the one hand, and the scope of the future MFF, on the other, the Commission proposal is not ambitious enough; reiterates the Committee’s position, which is shared by the European Parliament, that the future MFF should be set at at least 1,3 % of GNI; notes with concern that in previous cases the final size of the MFF turned out to be smaller than the Commission proposal, which, if repeated, would further erode the final desired impact in individual EU policy fields;

4.

considers it unacceptable that the financing of additional priorities is to be at the expense of existing EU policies with proven EU added value, such as the Cohesion Policy, the Common Agricultural Policy and, in particular, rural development policy. The proposed cuts are the wrong way of resolving the issue of how to finance the additional priorities and challenges;

5.

welcomes the Commission’s proposal to make rules more coherent and drastically reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries and managing authorities in order to facilitate participation in EU programmes and accelerate implementation;

6.

regrets the Commission’s lack of transparency as regards the comparison between the figures of the current and future financial framework; welcomes, in this context, the efforts of the European Parliamentary Research Service to produce a comparative financial analysis of both MFFs;

7.

takes note of the results-focused approach of the newly proposed MFF structure, which seeks to answer needs on the ground and provide greater European added value; opposes the removal of the common heading for economic, social and territorial cohesion, since this will further weaken the position of the Cohesion Policy within the MFF and pave the way for a possible separation of the ESF+ from Cohesion Policy. If such outcome would occur, the synergies and the link between various funding sources, which are of particular importance for local and regional authorities, would be further diminished;

8.

notes with concern that the Commission’s proposals point towards further strengthening programmes under direct or indirect management at the expense of programmes under shared management by the Commission and the Member States. In the long term, this will make implementation of EU policies less transparent at local and regional level; stresses that the principles of partnership and multi-level governance have to be fully respected, and put in place in order to ensure that the local and regional authorities are involved in all relevant stages from the design until the implementation of EU policies;

9.

regrets the mismatch between the adoption of an 8th EU Environment Action Programme (EAP) and the MFF post 2020. The decision-making process of the future EAPs and the duration of the programmes should be aligned with the timeframes of the MFF so that the allocated funding well reflects the sustainability priorities and objectives;

10.

is concerned about the lack of planning certainty with regard to the MFF in case there is no timely, clear and workable agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union;

11.

supports the Commission’s proposal to establish closer links between regional funds and the European Semester as long as a regional perspective is added to the European Semester, because this is the only viable way to establish clear and meaningful links between them;

Reform of the own resources system

12.

welcomes the Commission’s proposal to introduce three new own resources, but notes with regret that the Commission, on the basis of proposal of the High Level Group on Own Resources, has accepted only two further sources, and takes the view that the Commission proposal could have been more ambitious in this respect; therefore suggests that work to seek out new sources to finance the budget be continued as a matter of urgency;

13.

welcomes the Commission’s efforts to simplify the revenue side of the budget, and in particular the proposal to phase out all rebates linked to Member States and to streamline VAT-based revenue;

14.

finds it regrettable that the Commission proposal to introduce new own resources does not provide a sufficient assessment of compliance with the subsidiarity principle and the proposal’s potential impact on the financial situation of local and regional authorities has not been evaluated;

15.

emphasises that the proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) has considerable potential to increase the proportion of own resources, provided that it is made binding for a large number of companies. This is not the case at present, however, and it is also unclear when this source of own resources is expected to be introduced; has concerns relating to income based on non-recycled plastic packaging waste, since one of the EU ‘s main objectives is to avoid such packaging waste altogether, which would lead to a loss of revenue from this own resource or more fluctuations in budgetary income;

16.

welcomes the proposed cut to the amounts retained by Member States to meet the costs of collecting traditional own resources, but calls on the Commission to go even further and not to set the amounts for collection costs at 10 %, as proposed, but in accordance with actual costs;

Rule of law, flexibility and stability

17.

takes the view that respecting the rule of law is a necessary condition for sound financial management and efficient use of the EU budget; welcomes in this context the Commission’s efforts to put in place effective mechanisms to ensure respect for the rule of law, legal certainty in all Member States and effective measures against fraud and corruption;

18.

agrees with the Court of Auditor’s opinion that the proposed mechanism for ensuring compliance with the rule of law goes further than the procedure under Article 7 TEU and can be implemented more quickly;

19.

welcomes the European Commission’s efforts to ensure seamless financing for EU final beneficiaries, by making sure that the EU Member States also meet their financial obligations to beneficiaries in the event that a procedure to safeguard the EU’s financial interests is initiated; expects the Commission to develop further resources to protect final beneficiaries’ interests;

20.

recommends that the Commission consider introducing additional procedures with uniform effect across the various Member States, such as one-off fines, in order to safeguard the financial interests of the Union;

21.

considers, having regard to the opinion of the European Court of Auditors, that the Commission’s current legislative solution allows too much discretion in relation to the initiation of procedures, and calls on the Commission to set clear criteria to determine what constitutes a generalised deficiency as regards the rule of law which puts sound financial management at risk;

22.

recommends a stronger role for the European Court of Auditors in implementing the proposed procedure, in conformity with Article 287 TEU;

23.

welcomes the Commission’s proposals to make the MFF more flexible, which will certainly help address new and unforeseen challenges in a timely fashion; stresses, however, that greater flexibility in the use of funds must not be at the expense of long-term planning certainty and the strategic direction of programmes, especially those under shared management; therefore calls for an assessment of whether greater flexibility in the section relating to the Commission’s enhanced powers to reallocate funds, is not at odds with the principle of subsidiarity and multi-level governance, also calls for the involvement of regional and local authorities in the decision making whenever funds that are under shared management are to be reallocated;

The individual EU budget headings

24.

welcomes the proposals to increase the budget for policies relating to major new challenges such as migration and border management, as well as the creation of a specific heading for security and defence;

25.

supports the increase in resources for research and innovation, the continuation and expansion of the current EFSI to include the new ‘InvestEU’ fund, the increase in funding for the Erasmus+ programme, and the further increase in investment in climate protection across all EU policies; reiterates, however, that the proposed increase in resources should not be at the expense of the Cohesion Policy and rural development policy;

26.

strongly opposes the proposed 10 % cut to the Cohesion Policy budget, in particular in relation to the Cohesion Fund, whose funding is to be reduced by as much as 45 %; also views the proposed cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy — particularly the cuts of 28 % to the EAFRD and of 13 % to the EMFF — as unacceptable. Such a steep reduction in areas that continue to demonstrate European added value and that, for citizens, are among the EU’s most visible policies, would ultimately be extremely detrimental to the growth and development of the European regions;

27.

instead, and in line with the declaration on rural development adopted in Cork in September 2016, calls for the EU’s overall financial support for rural development to be increased above 5 % of the EU budget for the benefit of rural and intermediate areas, which account for over 90 % of the EU’s area, are home to 58 % of its population and account for 56 % of its jobs;

28.

stresses that the proposed cut to Cohesion Policy resources would call into question the achievement of one of the key objectives of the Treaty, namely the creation of economic, social and territorial cohesion. As a result of such an approach, the disparities between Europe’s regions would increase further, affecting in particular less developed regions, and those regions which have serious structural and demographic problems. Such an approach also underestimates the Cohesion Policy’s important role to date in fields such as innovation, digitalisation and climate protection; warns that cuts to funds for territorial cooperation programmes put at stake the objective of strengthening territorial cohesion and the most important instruments in this area, such as the EGTCs and macro-regional strategies;

29.

regrets that despite the fact that more than one third of EU citizens live in border regions and given that these regions face numerous territorial challenges, the budget allocation for cross-border cooperation is projected to decrease in real terms despite its proven European added value;

30.

highlights the extremely detrimental effects of the MFF proposal for European farmers and the inhabitants of rural areas. If the proposed cuts to funds under the second pillar of the CAP were to be accepted, rural development policy would no longer be able to fulfil its mission, notably in terms of reducing differences in living standards between rural and urban areas; in addition, calls for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to remain under the management system provided in the Common Provisions Regulation so as to continue to ensure consistency between the different funding sources and strengthen the CAP’s territorial dimension;

31.

is opposed in particular to the proposal to reduce allocations to the POSEI programme which assists the outermost regions, undermining its objective of providing a targeted response to the specific challenges faced by agriculture in each region, in its role as a financial instrument for direct support to farmers;

32.

finds it regrettable that the commitments for the ESF+ have not been increased in real terms, although this is supposed to cover additional tasks such as the integration of third-country nationals; points out that the European Social Fund (see CoR opinion on the ESF+ (1)) should remain anchored in cohesion policy, the EU’s main instrument for investing in people and human capital, promoting gender equality and improving the lives of millions of EU citizens;

33.

notes that the European Globalisation Fund (EGF), despite the existing overlaps and trade-offs with the ESF+, has not been incorporated into the latter; holds the view that the added-value of the measures financed by the EGF is contingent on whether these measures will be complemented by conversion and restructuring processes implemented through long-term regional development programmes, particularly anticipative measures as those offered by the ESF+;

34.

is opposed to introducing the n+2 rule instead of n+3 rule as the timeframe for the use of amounts transferred annually, as there is a considerable risk that legislation could be adopted late. In the event that the n+2 rule is applied, this could undermine the absorption of transferred funds;

35.

strongly rejects the proposed solutions, which will further exacerbate the situation of local and regional authorities compared with today when it comes to the time limit for using annual allocations from EU programmes and to the level of pre-financing and, in particular, co-financing of projects, as many local and regional authorities do not have the financial capacity to raise the necessary proportion of own funds;

36.

calls on the Commission to calculate the transfer of Cohesion Policy funds to Member States on the basis of the latest breakdown of NUTS-2 regions, for which Eurostat can provide the necessary data, in order to ensure a better match between the socioeconomic conditions in NUTS-2 regions and the calculation of the national transfers;

37.

also urges the European Commission to consider factors other than GDP per capita when amending the criteria for cofinancing and allocating Cohesion Policy funds, since it is not an accurate measure of a society’s ability to tackle issues that concern it, such as demographic change, and calls for the establishment of international, national, local and regional indices to measure progress beyond GDP. In terms of addressing the demographic challenge, the following may be considered possible: changes in the population (intense and sustained loss), territorial dispersion, ageing, over-ageing, emigration of young people and the adult population and a resulting fall in birth rates;

38.

rejects the proposed cuts to the budgets of transport infrastructure under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), especially in light of the unfounded reduction in the Cohesion Fund budget, since these are unjustified given the objectives and requirements to ensure a green, secure and well connected transport system;

39.

considersthat the proposed allocation for the new instrument ‘European Investment Stabilisation Function’ — in the form of a budget heading within the EU budget enabling up to EUR 30 billion in loans so as to be able to respond appropriately in the event of any new economic and financial market shocks that affect Member States that are part of the euro area or the exchange-rate mechanism (ERM II) — is too small. The CoR therefore proposes a substantial increase in relevant funds to protect the EU’s investment potential and that this should be outside the EU budget;

40.

has concerns about the proposed Reform Support Programme for structural reforms. Given that the proposal is based on Article 175 of the Treaty, which deals with cohesion, the programme should be confined to reforms that bolster economic, social and territorial cohesion and deliver European added value. The programme should also be part of a new long-term EU development strategy following on from the Europe 2020 strategy and structured around the Sustainable Development Goals; furthermore, the same requirements as for the structural and investment funds — in terms of partnership and the involvement of local and regional authorities in the planning and implementation of reforms — should apply; finally, is not in favour of the option provided for in the framework regulation on the structural and investment funds of transferring up to 5 % of the allocations to EU funds and financial instruments that are unrelated to the cohesion objectives and, moreover, are for the most part under direct management without local and regional authority involvement;

41.

stresses that the cuts to Cohesion Policy, rural development policy and the CAP will have a significant detrimental effect on efforts to meet territorial cohesion and environmental protection objectives. Despite the almost 60 % increase in funds for the LIFE programme, the proposed overall budget for climate protection and adaptation in the energy field is smaller than that of the current financial perspective. Instead of tapping the considerable potential of agricultural and especially cohesion policy in promoting investments with positive effects for the environment and climate protection, the proposed MFF cuts funds for the cohesion and agricultural policies and thus calls in question the achievement of EU environment policy objectives;

42.

notes the proposal to increase the funding for the LIFE Programme (see CoR opinion on the LIFE Programme (2)), which is of crucial importance to local and regional authorities in terms of helping them to combat biodiversity loss, develop a green infrastructure solution and promote sustainability; regrets, however, that the proposed increase is partly cancelled out by the inclusion of measures previously funded by Horizon 2020 on the clean-energy transition; calls, therefore, for the total funding for the LIFE Programme to be increased by the corresponding amount; also calls for actions for capacity building supporting the clean energy transition to retain the same co-financing rate as they have under Horizon 2020;

43.

points out that the planned objective, namely to use 25 % of the EU budget to help meet climate change goals, is not enough to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Efforts should be made under the next financial framework to ensure the possibility of increasing the share of expenditure that goes towards the decarbonisation of the energy sector, industry and transport to over 30 % and towards the transition to a circular economy;

44.

welcomes the increase in funds for the ‘Horizon Europe’ sub-heading, as compared to the current budget; furthermore, recommends that a framework be established to govern the options regarding budgetary transfers from other instruments under the MFF to Horizon Europe, with due regard, in particular, for the freedom of initiative of the managing authority concerned, the joint framing of measures co-financed in this way, and the return of funds to the territory of the managing authority;

45.

welcomes the inclusion of a specific heading on migration and border management and the substantial increase in funding to carry out measures in these areas; regrets that the issue of border security is given much greater importance than other issues relating to migration such as the granting of protection and asylum for migrants, support for legal migration and integration. The CoR therefore calls for the budget allocated to the Asylum and Migration Fund (see CoR opinion on the Asylum and Migration Fund (3)) to be increased by the same percentage (240 %) as for the budget for the protection of external borders, in order to ensure that it issufficient to adequately deal with the challenges of integration;

46.

points out — in view of the unambitious overall size of the MFF, which limits even more so the scope for action in this extremely important area for the EU’s political and social stability and security — that this is particularly important for local and regional authorities, which are responsible for many of these measures; also points out here that the budget for the European Social Fund (ESF+), which should cover the long-term integration measures for migrants, should consequently be increased to cover this new task;

47.

also draws attention to the fact that the new Rights and Values programme, which is to fund efforts to protect the EU’s fundamental rights and values and encourage active European citizenship, is of great importance to local and regional authorities in these areas. For this reason, the CoR proposes that the general basis of that programme be increased to meet the huge challenges in this regard;

48.

welcomes the simplification of the external action instruments and the allocation of resources, which contribute to a more efficient and effective EU external and development policy; highlights in this regard the important role of local and regional authorities in improving cooperation with neighbouring and third countries in a whole range of areas and in achieving Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development as a whole; calls forthis role to be taken into account in the MFF more explicitly, preferably through directly allocated budget;

49.

considers that a strong, efficient and high-quality European public administration is indispensable to the delivery of Union policies and to restore trust in the EU added value and strengthen dialogue with citizens at all levels; underlines the important role of the institutions made up by democratically elected members in that respect;

50.

calls on all EU bodies to reach swift agreement on the next multiannual financial framework so that EU programmes can be adopted in good time before the beginning of the next MFF.

Brussels, 9 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  CoR opinion 3597/2018, not yet adopted.

(2)  CoR opinion 3653/2018.

(3)  CoR opinion 4007/2018.


21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/79


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Horizon Europe: the Framework Programme 9 for Research and Innovation

(2018/C 461/11)

Rapporteur-general:

Christophe CLERGEAU (FR/PES), member of the Pays-de-la-Loire Regional Council

Reference documents:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing Horizon Europe — the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, laying down its rules for participation and dissemination

COM(2018) 435 final — 2018/0224 (COD)

Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe — the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

(COM(2018) 436 final — 2018/0225 (COD)

I.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing Horizon Europe — the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, laying down its rules for participation and dissemination

(COM(2018) 435 final — 2018/00224 (COD))

Amendment 1

Recital 2

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

To deliver scientific, economic and societal impact in pursuit of this general objective, the Union should invest in research and innovation through Horizon Europe — a Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027 (the ‘Programme’) to support the creation and diffusion of high-quality knowledge and technologies, to strengthen the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing Union policies, to support the uptake of innovative solutions in industry and society to address global challenges and promote industrial competitiveness; foster all forms of innovation, including breakthrough innovation, and strengthen market deployment of innovative solutions; and optimise the delivery of such investment for increased impact within a strengthened European Research Area.

To deliver a scientific, economic and territorial impact in pursuit of this general objective, the Union should invest in research and innovation through Horizon Europe — a Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027 (the ‘Programme’) to support the creation and diffusion of high-quality knowledge and technologies, to strengthen the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing Union policies, to support the uptake of innovative solutions in industry and society to address global challenges and promote industrial competitiveness; foster all forms of innovation, including breakthrough innovation, and strengthen market deployment of innovative solutions; and optimise the delivery of such investment for increased impact within a strengthened European Research Area.

Amendment 2

Recital 9

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Research activities carried out under the pillar ‘Open Science’ should be determined according to the needs and opportunities of science. The research agenda should be set in close liaison with the scientific community. Research should be funded on the basis of excellence.

Research activities carried out under the pillar ‘Open Science’ should be determined according to the needs and opportunities of science. The research agenda should be set in close liaison with the scientific community. Research should be funded on the basis of excellence and of the expected impacts .

Amendment 3

Recital 13

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The Programme should support research and innovation in an integrated manner, respecting all relevant provisions of the World Trade Organisation. The concept of research, including experimental development should be used in accordance with the Frascati Manual developed by the OECD, whereas the concept of innovation should be used in accordance with the Oslo Manual developed by the OECD and Eurostat, following a broad approach that covers social innovation.

The OECD definitions regarding Technological Readiness Level (TRL) should continue, as in the previous Framework Programme Horizon 2020, to be taken into account in the classification of technological research, product development and demonstration activities, and the definition of types of action available in calls for proposals. In principle grants should not be awarded for actions where activities go above TRL 8. The work programme for a given call under the pillar ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’ could allow grants for large-scale product validation and market replication.

The Programme should support research and innovation in all its forms in an integrated manner, respecting all relevant provisions of the World Trade Organisation. The concept of research, including experimental development should be used in accordance with the Frascati Manual developed by the OECD, whereas the concept of innovation should be used in accordance with the Oslo Manual developed by the OECD and Eurostat, following a broad approach that covers social innovation. The OECD definitions regarding Technological Readiness Level (TRL) should continue, as in the previous Framework Programme Horizon 2020, to be taken into account in the classification of technological research, product development and demonstration activities, and the definition of types of action available in calls for proposals. The work programme for a given call under the pillar ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’ could allow grants for large-scale product validation and market replication.

Reason

The possibility of grants being awarded should not be removed in the stages closest to products being placed on the market.

Amendment 4

Recital 15

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The Programme should seek synergies with other Union programmes, from their design and strategic planning, to project selection, management, communication, dissemination and exploitation of results, to monitoring, auditing and governance. With a view to avoiding overlaps and duplication and increasing the leverage of Union funding, transfers from other Union programmes to Horizon Europe activities can take place. In such cases they will follow Horizon Europe rules.

In its strategic planning, Horizon Europe will commit to seeking synergies with other Union programmes, from their design and strategic planning, taking into account national strategies and smart specialisation strategies (S3s), to project selection, management, communication, dissemination and exploitation of results, to monitoring, auditing and governance. With a view to avoiding overlaps and duplication and increasing the leverage of Union funding, combining with regional and national public funding and transfers from other Union programmes to Horizon Europe activities can take place , in line with existing S3s . In such cases they will follow Horizon Europe rules.

Amendment 5

Recital 16

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

In order to achieve the greatest possible impact of Union funding and the most effective contribution to the Union’s policy objectives, the Programme should enter into European Partnerships with private and/or public sector partners. Such partners include industry, research organisations, bodies with a public service mission at local, regional, national or international level, and civil society organisations such as foundations that support and/or carry out research and innovation, provided that desired impacts can be achieved more effectively in partnership than by the Union alone.

In order to achieve the greatest possible impact of Union funding and the most effective contribution to the Union’s policy objectives, the Programme should enter into European Partnerships with private and/or public sector partners. Such partners include industry, research organisations, universities, regions and cities, bodies with a public service mission at local, regional, national or international level, and civil society organisations such as foundations that support and/or carry out research and innovation, provided that desired impacts can be achieved more effectively in partnership than by the Union alone.

Amendment 6

Recital 19

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The pillar ‘Open Innovation’ should establish a series of measures for integrated support to the needs of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship aiming at realising and accelerating breakthrough innovation for rapid market growth. It should attract innovative companies with potential for scaling up at international and at Union level and offer fast, flexible grants and co-investments, including with private investors. These objectives should be pursued through the creation of a European Innovation Council (EIC). This Pillar should also support the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and European innovation ecosystems at large, notably through co-funding partnerships with national and regional innovation support actors.

The pillar ‘Open Innovation’ should establish a series of measures for integrated support to the needs of innovators, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship aiming at realising and accelerating breakthrough innovation for rapid market growth. It should attract innovative companies with potential for scaling up at international and at Union level and offer fast, flexible grants and co-investments, including with private and public investors. These objectives should be pursued through the creation of a European Innovation Council (EIC). This Pillar should also support the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and local, regional, national and European innovation ecosystems, notably through co-funding partnerships with national and regional innovation support actors.

Reason

The aims of the Open Innovation pillar should more clearly reflect the target public, which does not consist only of entrepreneurs, and should include the possibility of involving public, as well as private investors.

Amendment 7

New text after Article 2(3)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

‘regional ecosystems and innovation hubs’ bring together public and private actors from quadruple-helix networks (academia, industry, public policymakers, civil society), structured at regional and local level. These actors coordinate research, innovation and training activities and speed up the dissemination among themselves of the results, knowledge transfer, innovation and the development of new economic activities and services that create sustainable jobs, by working closely with citizens and their needs at local level, bringing the results of research and innovation as near as possible to society and the market;

Reason

A formal definition of ‘regional ecosystems and innovation hubs’, encompassing the realities of both cities and regions is needed to ensure that they are fully taken into account and recognised in all strands of Horizon Europe.

Amendment 8

Article 2(5)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(5)

‘mission’ means a portfolio of actions intended to achieve a measurable goal within a set timeframe, and impact for science and technology and/or society and citizens that could not be achieved through individual actions;

(5)

‘mission’ means a portfolio of actions intended to achieve a measurable goal within a set timeframe, and impact for science and technology and/or society and citizens and their territory that could not be achieved through individual actions;

Amendment 9

Article 3(1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The Programme’s general objective is to deliver scientific, economic and societal impact from the Union’s investments in research and innovation so as to strengthen the scientific and technological bases of the Union and foster its competitiveness, including in its industry, deliver on the Union strategic priorities, and contribute to tackling global challenges, including the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Programme’s general objective is to deliver scientific, economic and territorial impact from the Union’s investments in research and innovation so as to strengthen the scientific and technological bases of the Union and foster the competitiveness of each of its Member States and their regions , including in their industry, especially by helping to build a knowledge and innovation society, deliver on the Union strategic priorities, and contribute to tackling global challenges, including the Sustainable Development Goals.

Amendment 10

Article 3(2)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

to strengthen the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing Union policies, and support the uptake of innovative solutions in industry and society to address global challenges;

(b)

to strengthen the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing Union policies, and support the uptake of innovative solutions in industry and society and their dissemination throughout the EU, its Member States and their regions, to address local and global challenges;

Amendment 11

Article 6(6)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The implementation of the specific programme shall be based on a transparent and strategic multiannual planning of research and innovation activities, in particular for the pillar ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’, following consultations with stakeholders about priorities and the suitable types of action and forms of implementation to use. This shall ensure alignment with other relevant Union programmes.

The implementation of the specific programme shall be based on a transparent and strategic multiannual planning of research and innovation activities, in particular for the pillar ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’, following consultations with the Member States, the European Parliament, local and regional authorities, stakeholders and civil society about priorities and the suitable types of action and forms of implementation to use. This shall ensure alignment with other relevant Union programmes and shall take account of national strategic priorities and those concerning smart specialisation .

Reason

Strategic planning will be at the heart of the future governance of the programme, and must therefore involve local and regional authorities and take into account regional smart specialisation strategies.

Amendment 12

Article 6(9)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

9.   The Programme shall ensure the effective promotion of gender equality and the gender dimension in research and innovation content. Particular attention shall be paid to ensuring gender balance, subject to the situation in the field of research and innovation concerned, in evaluation panels and in bodies such as expert groups.

9.   The Programme shall ensure the effective promotion of gender equality and the gender dimension in research and innovation content. Particular attention shall be paid to ensuring gender balance, subject to the situation in the field of research and innovation concerned, in evaluation panels and in bodies such as expert groups.

In accordance with Article 349 of the TFEU, the Programme should take into account the specific characteristics of the outermost regions in line with the Commission’s Communication on ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’, as endorsed by the Council on 12 April 2018.

Reason

Recital 27 of the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing Horizon Europe explicitly states that specific measures for the outermost regions are justified, and that the programme must take account of their specific characteristics: however, no mention is made of the outermost regions in the articles.

Amendment 13

Article 7(3)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

3.   Missions

3.   Missions

(a)

have a clear EU-added value and contribute to reaching Union priorities;

(a)

have a clear EU-added value and contribute to reaching Union priorities;

(b)

be bold and inspirational, and hence have wide societal or economic relevance;

(b)

be bold and inspirational, and hence have wide societal or economic relevance;

(c)

indicate a clear direction and be targeted, measurable and time-bound;

(c)

indicate a clear direction and be targeted, measurable and time-bound;

(d)

be centered on ambitious but realistic research and innovation activities;

(d)

be centered on ambitious but realistic research and innovation activities;

(e)

spark activity across disciplines, sectors and actors;

(e)

spark activity across disciplines, sectors and actors;

(f)

be open to multiple, bottom-up solutions.

(f)

be open to multiple, bottom-up solutions;

 

(g)

help strengthen the European Research Area and the implementation of smart specialisation strategies.

Amendment 14

Article 8(1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

P arts of Horizon Europe may be implemented through European Partnerships. The involvement of the Union in European Partnerships may take any of the following forms:

The different p arts of Horizon Europe may be implemented through European Partnerships. The involvement of the Union in European Partnerships may take any of the following forms:

Amendment 15

Article 7, add a paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

4.     Missions should be developed through an open and participatory process, involving all stakeholders at local, regional, European and global level.

Amendment 16

Article 9(2)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

EUR 13 500 000 000 for Pillar III ‘Open Innovation’ for the period 2021-2027, of which

(c)

EUR 13 500 000 000 for Pillar III ‘Open Innovation’ for the period 2021-2027, of which

 

(1)

EUR 10 500 000 000 for the European Innovation Council, including up to EUR 500 000 000 for European Innovation Ecosystems;

 

(1)

EUR 10 500 000 000 for the European Innovation Council, including EUR 500 000 000 for European Innovation Ecosystems , with a further EUR 1 500 000 000 transferred from Pillar II to be used in its thematic priorities. At least EUR 1 000 000 000 should take the form of co-financing joint support programmes for SMEs, particularly for incremental innovation ;

 

(2)

EUR 3 000 000 000 for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT);

 

(2)

EUR 3 000 000 000 for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT);

Reason

Support for European innovation ecosystems will closely concern regional ecosystems and innovation hubs. The amount provided for is conditional, which is not acceptable, and too low to have a significant overall or territorial impact. Boosting the budget for these activities means regions will be able to take their rightful place in the next framework programme by devising medium- to long-term structural policies essential for strengthening the Union’s innovation capacity.

Amendment 17

Article 9(8)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Resources allocated to Member States under shared management and transferrable in accordance with Article 21 of Regulation (EU) xx/xx (… Common Provisions Regulation) may, at their request, be transferred to the Programme. The Commission shall implement those resources directly in accordance with point (a) of Article 62(1) of the Financial Regulation or indirectly in accordance with point (c) of that Article. Where possible, those resources shall be used for the benefit of the Member State concerned.

 

Reason

Moved to Article 11.

Amendment 18

Article 11

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

1.     Horizon Europe should be implemented in synergy with other EU programmes. Complementary and combined funding, additional to funding for Horizon Europe, should be deployed in accordance with the same rules of application as apply to the current programme.

If appropriate, joint calls may be established with other EU programmes, in which case the rules of participation of only one of the programmes shall apply. Although these actions fall under the Horizon Europe programme, its rules shall apply to all contributions that fund them.

Actions awarded a Seal of Excellence certification, or which comply with the following cumulative, comparative, conditions:

2.    Actions awarded a Seal of Excellence certification, or which comply with the following cumulative, comparative, conditions:

(a)

they have been assessed in a call for proposals under the Programme;

(a)

they have been assessed in a call for proposals under the Programme;

(b)

they comply with the minimum quality requirements of that call for proposals;

(b)

they comply with the minimum quality requirements of that call for proposals;

(c)

they may not be financed under that call for proposals due to budgetary constraints,

(c)

they may not be financed under that call for proposals due to budgetary constraints,

may receive support from the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Social Fund+ or the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, in accordance with paragraph 5 of Article [67] of Regulation (EU) xx/xx (Common Provisions Regulation) and Article [8] or Regulation (EU) xx/xx (Financing, management and monitoring of the Common Agricultural Policy), provided that such actions are consistent with the objectives of the programme concerned. The rules of the Fund providing support shall apply.

may receive support from the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Social Fund+ or the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, in accordance with paragraph 5 of Article [67] of Regulation (EU) xx/xx (Common Provisions Regulation) and Article [8] or Regulation (EU) xx/xx (Financing, management and monitoring of the Common Agricultural Policy), provided that such actions are consistent with the objectives of the programme concerned.

 

3.     Actions carried out under the European partnerships referred to in Article 8 may also receive contributions from other programmes of the EU, its Member States and their local and regional authorities, in which case the rules of participation of only one of the programmes may apply. If these actions fall under the Horizon Europe programme, its rules may apply to all contributions that fund them, subject to rules relating to Community guidelines on State aid.

 

4.     Resources allocated to Member States under shared management and transferrable in accordance with Article 21 of Regulation (EU) xx/xx (Common Provisions Regulation) may, at the request of the managing authority,

(a)

be transferred to the Horizon Programme. The Commission shall implement those resources directly, in accordance with point (a) of Article 62(1) of the Financial Regulation or indirectly, in accordance with point (1)(c) of that Article. Those resources shall be used for the benefit of the geographical area corresponding to the managing authority concerned, in line with Articles 18(7) and 19(1), second subparagraph;

(b)

be deemed transferred to Horizon Europe when they are directly allocated by the managing authority to a joint programme co-financed by Horizon Europe. The Horizon Europe rules permit payments to be made to third parties by a joint programme co-financed in this way, subject to the rules on Community guidelines on State aid.

Reason

The old debate on synergies requires a clear and comprehensive conclusion that will allow for combined financing beyond the Seal of Excellence, and for fully tapping the potential of European partnerships. However, this arrangement must also be elastic and leave regions able to react and adapt swiftly to initiatives and developments in the European ecosystem. This amendment achieves its purpose by enabling Managing Authorities to make a virtual transfer via a direct allocation to a programme co-financed by the Framework Programme. In this way they would decide to participate without prior programming and an actual transfer.

Amendment 19

Article 20(5)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The work programme shall specify calls for which ‘Seals of Excellence’ will be awarded. With prior authorisation from the applicant, information concerning the application and the evaluation may be shared with interested financing authorities, subject to the conclusion of confidentiality agreements.

The work programme shall specify calls for which ‘Seals of Excellence’ will be awarded. The award of the ‘Seal of Excellence’ shall be subject to the consent of the applicant to provide access to relevant funding authorities, and to information on the application and assessment, subject to confidentiality agreements.

Amendment 20

Article 23

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

An action that has received a contribution from another Union programme may also receive a contribution under the Programme, provided that the contributions do not cover the same costs. The rules of each contributing Union programme shall apply to its respective contribution to the action. The cumulative funding shall not exceed the total eligible costs of the action and the support from the different Union programmes may be calculated on a pro-rata basis in accordance with the documents setting out the conditions for support.

An action that has received a contribution from another Union programme may also receive a contribution under the Programme, provided that the contributions do not cover the same costs.

 

If these contributions are allocated jointly to cover the same activities and their costs,

(a)

This action should be implemented under the same set of implementing and eligibility rules.

The cumulative funding shall not exceed the total eligible costs of the action and the support from the different Union programmes may be calculated on a pro-rata basis in accordance with the documents setting out the conditions for support;

(b)

the action should be implemented under the rules of the programme providing the main contribution, subject to the rules relating to Community guidelines on State aid in the case referred to in Article 11(4)(b) .

Amendment 21

Article 30

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   A single funding rate per action shall apply for all activities it funds. The maximum rate shall be fixed in the work programme.

1.   A single funding rate per action shall apply for all activities it funds. The maximum rate shall be fixed in the work programme.

2.   The Programme may reimburse up to 100 % of total eligible costs of an action, except for:

2.   The Programme may reimburse up to 100 % of total eligible costs of an action, except for:

(a)

innovation actions: up to 70 % of the total eligible costs, except for non-profit legal entities where the Programme may reimburse up to 100 % of the total eligible costs;

(a)

innovation actions: up to 70 % of the total eligible costs, except for non-profit legal entities where the Programme may reimburse up to 100 % of the total eligible costs;

(b)

programme co-fund actions: at least 30 % of the total eligible costs, and in identified and duly justified cases up to 70 %.

(b)

programme co-fund actions: at least 50 % of the total eligible costs, and in identified and duly justified cases up to 70 %.

3.   The funding rates determined in this Article shall also apply for actions where flat rate, unit or lump sum financing is fixed for the whole or part of the action.

3.   The funding rates determined in this Article shall also apply for actions where flat rate, unit or lump sum financing is fixed for the whole or part of the action.

Reason

Consistent with the principle of co-financing.

Amendment 22

Article 43(4)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   The beneficiary of the EIC Accelerator shall be a legal entity qualifying as a start-up, an SME or as a mid-cap, established in a Member State or associated country. The proposal may be submitted by the beneficiary, or by one or more natural persons or legal entities intending to establish or support that beneficiary.

1.   The beneficiary of the EIC Accelerator shall be a legal entity qualifying as a start-up, an SME or as a mid-cap, established in a Member State or associated country. The proposal may be submitted by the beneficiary, or by one or more natural persons or legal entities intending to establish or support that beneficiary.

2.   A single award decision shall cover and provide funding for all forms of Union contribution provided under EIC blended finance.

2.   A single award decision shall cover and provide funding for all forms of Union contribution provided under EIC blended finance.

3.   Proposals shall be evaluated on their individual merit by independent experts and selected in the context of an annual open call with cut-off dates, based on Articles 24 to 26, subject to paragraph 4.

3.   Proposals shall be evaluated on their individual merit by independent experts and selected in the context of an annual open call with cut-off dates, based on Articles 24 to 26, subject to paragraph 4.

4.   Award criteria shall be:

excellence;

impact;

the level risk of the action and the need for Union support.

4.   Award criteria shall be:

excellence;

impact;

the level risk of the action, the quality of national, regional or local assistance and the need for Union support.

Reason

Even if companies benefiting from the accelerator are supposed to target a wide market, their success depends not only on their financial structure but also on the assistance they receive within a favourable ecosystem at the European, national and local level.

Amendment 23

Annex I — Broad lines of activities, Part (3) (b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

European innovation ecosystems

Areas of intervention: Connecting with regional and national innovation actors and supporting the implementation of joint cross-border innovation programmes by Member States and associated countries, from the enhancement of soft skills for innovation to research and innovation actions, to boost the effectiveness of the European innovation system. This will complement the ERDF support for innovation eco-systems and interregional partnerships around smart specialisation topics.

(b)

European innovation ecosystems

Areas of intervention: Connecting with regional and national innovation actors and supporting the implementation of joint cross-border innovation programmes by regional ecosystem players and innovation hubs, by Member States and associated countries, such programmes ranging from the enhancement of soft skills for innovation to research and innovation actions, to boost the effectiveness of the European innovation system. This will complement the ERDF support for innovation eco-systems and interregional partnerships around smart specialisation topics.

Reason

This is essential to allow for the funding of trans-regional projects.

Amendment 24

Annex II — Types of Action, sixth indent

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Programme co-fund action: action to provide co-funding to a programme of activities established and/or implemented by entities managing and/or funding research and innovation programmes, other than Union funding bodies. Such a programme of activities may support networking and coordination, research, innovation, pilot actions, and innovation and market deployment actions, training and mobility actions, awareness raising and communication, dissemination and exploitation, or a combination thereof, directly implemented by those entities or by third parties to whom they may provide any relevant financial support such as grants, prizes, procurement, as well as Horizon Europe blended finance;

Programme co-fund action: action to provide co-funding to a programme of activities established and/or implemented by entities managing and/or funding research and innovation programmes, other than Union funding bodies. This type of action could in particular support the action programmes of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs and cooperation between them. Such a programme of activities may support networking and coordination, research, innovation, pilot actions, and innovation and market deployment actions, training and mobility actions, awareness raising and communication, dissemination and exploitation, or a combination thereof, directly implemented by those entities or by third parties to whom they may provide any relevant financial support such as grants, prizes, procurement, as well as Horizon Europe blended finance;

Reason

This is essential to allow for the funding of trans-regional projects.

Amendment 25

Annex III — Partnerships, Part 1, (a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

Evidence that the European Partnership is more effective in achieving the related objectives of the Programme, in particular in delivering clear impacts for the EU and its citizens, notably in view of delivering on global challenges and research and innovation objectives, securing EU competitiveness and contributing to the strengthening of the European Research and Innovation Area and international commitments;

(a)

Evidence that the European Partnership is particularly effective in achieving the related objectives of the Programme, in particular in delivering clear impacts for the EU and its citizens, notably in view of delivering on global challenges and research and innovation objectives, securing EU competitiveness and contributing to the strengthening of the European Research and Innovation Area and international commitments;

Reason

The current wording is very restrictive and could considerably limit the scope of European partnerships.

Amendment 26

Annex IV — Synergies with other programmes, point 4(a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

4.

Synergies with the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will ensure that:

(a)

the ESF+ can mainstream and scale up innovative curricula supported by the Programme, through national or regional programmes, in order to equip people with the skills and competences needed for the jobs of the future;

4.

Synergies with the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will ensure that:

(a)

the ESF+ can mainstream and scale up innovative curricula supported by the Programme, through national, regional or trans-regional programmes, in order to equip people with the skills and competences needed for the jobs of the future;

Amendment 27

Annex IV — Synergies with other programmes, point 6(b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

6.

Synergies with the Digital Europe Programme (DEP) will ensure that:

6.

Synergies with the Digital Europe Programme (DEP) will ensure that:

 

(a)

whereas several thematic areas addressed by the Programme and DEP converge, the type of actions to be supported, their expected outputs and their intervention logic are different and complementary;

 

(a)

whereas several thematic areas addressed by the Programme and DEP converge, the type of actions to be supported, their expected outputs and their intervention logic are different and complementary;

 

(b)

research and innovation needs related to digital aspects are identified and established in the Programme’s strategic research and innovation plans; this includes research and innovation for High Performance Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, combining digital with other enabling technologies and non-technological innovations; support for the scale-up of companies introducing breakthrough innovations (many of which will combine digital and physical technologies; the integration of digital across all the pillar ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’; and the support to digital research infrastructures;

 

(b)

research and innovation needs related to digital aspects are identified and established in the Programme’s strategic research and innovation plans; this includes research and innovation for High Performance Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, combining digital with other enabling technologies and non-technological innovations; support for the scale-up of companies introducing breakthrough innovations (many of which will combine digital and physical technologies; the integration of digital across all the pillar ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’; assistance for digital innovation clusters and the support to digital research infrastructures;

Amendment 28

Add a new paragraph at the end of Annex V — Indicators for key impact pathways, page 16

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Indicators for territorial impact pathways

The programme should have an impact on development and economic transformation at local, regional and national level, helping strengthen the Union’s technological base and competitiveness.

(see the table below, which is an integral part of this amendment)


For a territorial impact

Short-term

Medium-term

Longer-term

Contribute to territories’ growth and economic transformation

Synergies between funding sources

Amount of public and private co-financing harnessed for projects under the FP before, during and after its implementation

Contribution to policy priorities

Proportion of FP projects contributing to smart specialisation at regional and national level

Contribution to growth and economic transformation

Business creation and market share growth in the smart specialisation sectors of ecosystems

Dissemination and uptake of research and innovation in and by territories for the benefit of citizens

Adoption

Proportion of FP research and innovation adopted by local stakeholders, including in the public sector

Deployment

Number of innovations deployed, disseminated to all partners in the territories concerned, with the involvement of the public sector

Replication

Dissemination and influence of innovations to other territories

Support the development of and investment in networks of excellence and innovation hubs

Collaboration between regional ecosystems and innovation hubs and pockets of excellence across the EU

Number of projects or the proportion of projects funded by the FP that have led to further collaborations between bodies from different territories and actors in these categories

Development of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs

Estimated effects of collaborations based on outcomes funded by the FP on the development of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs

Contribution to bridging the innovation gap

Estimated cumulative effects deriving from outcomes funded by the FP in reducing the innovation gap in the EU

Reason

Explicit reference to territorial impact indicators among other key impact indicators proposed by the Commission. This proposal is in line with the wording (title, explanatory text and table) of Annex V as proposed by the Commission.

Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe — the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

(COM(2018) 436 final — 2018/0225 (COD)

Amendment 29

Recital 7

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Reflecting the important contribution that research and innovation should make to address challenges in food, agriculture, rural development and the bioeconomy, and to seize the corresponding research and innovation opportunities in close synergy with Common Agricultural Policy, relevant actions under the Specific Programme will be supported with EUR 10 billion for the cluster ‘Food and Natural Resources’ for the period 2021-2027.

Reflecting the important contribution that research and innovation should make to address challenges in food, agriculture, rural development , the sea, fisheries and the bioeconomy, and to seize the corresponding research and innovation opportunities in close synergy with Common Agricultural Policy , the Integrated Maritime Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy , relevant actions under the Specific Programme will be supported with EUR 10 billion for the cluster ‘Food and Natural Resources’ for the period 2021-2027.

Reason

The seas and fisheries are crucial sectors for the EU: mention of these sectors is therefore essential.

Amendment 30

New recital (7a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

(7a)

In view of the major challenges that maritime issues represent for employment (the blue economy), the quality of the environment and the fight against climate change, these challenges will be a cross-cutting priority of the programme, which will be the subject of specific monitoring and for which a target objective will be set to mobilise the programme as part of the strategic programming.

Amendment 31

Article 2

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The Specific Programme has the following operational objectives:

The Specific Programme has the following operational objectives:

(a)

reinforcing and spreading excellence;

(a)

reinforcing and spreading excellence;

(b)

increasing collaboration across sectors and disciplines;

(b)

increasing collaboration across sectors and disciplines;

(c)

connecting and developing research infrastructures across the European research area;

(c)

connecting and developing research infrastructures across the European research area;

(d)

strengthening international cooperation;

(d)

strengthening international cooperation;

(e)

attracting, training and retaining researchers and innovators in the European Research Area, including through mobility of researchers;

(e)

attracting, training and retaining researchers and innovators in the European Research Area, including through mobility of researchers;

(f)

fostering open science and ensuring visibility to the public and open access to results;

(f)

fostering open science and ensuring visibility to the public and open access to results;

(g)

actively disseminating and exploiting results, in particular for policy development;

(g)

actively disseminating and exploiting results, in particular for policy development;

(h)

supporting the implementation of Union policy priorities;

(h)

supporting the implementation of Union policy priorities;

 

(ha)

enhancing the implementation of smart specialisation strategies and the competitiveness of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs;

(i)

reinforcing the link between research and innovation and other policies, including Sustainable Development Goals;

(i)

reinforcing the link between research and innovation and other policies, including Sustainable Development Goals;

(j)

delivering, through R&I missions, on ambitious goals within a set timeframe;

(j)

delivering, through R&I missions, on ambitious goals within a set timeframe;

(k)

involving citizens and end-users in co-design and co-creation processes;

(k)

involving citizens and end-users in co-design and co-creation processes;

(l)

improving science communication.

(l)

improving science communication.

(m)

accelerating industrial transformation;

(m)

accelerating industrial change and in particular the ecological and digital transition of industry, while developing sustainable and high-quality jobs ;

Reason

The operational objectives of the framework programme should help implement smart specialisation strategies in the EU Member States and their regions, which are an integral part of the EU’s support for research and innovation (COM(2018) 306 final).

Amendment 32

Article 5(1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

For each mission, a mission board may be established. It shall be composed of around 15 high level individuals including relevant end-users’ representatives. The mission board shall advise upon the following:

For each mission, a mission board may be established. It shall be composed of around 15 high-level individuals including relevant end-users’ representatives and public and private stakeholders . The mission board shall advise upon the following:

(a)

content of work programmes and their revision as needed for achieving the mission objectives, in co-design with stakeholders and the public where relevant ;

(a)

content of work programmes and their revision as needed for achieving the mission objectives, in co-design with public policymakers from the Member States, local and regional authorities , stakeholders and the public;

Amendment 33

Article 10(2)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The EIC Board may upon request address recommendations to the Commission on:

The EIC Board may upon request address recommendations to the Commission on:

(a)

any matter which from an innovation perspective may enhance and foster innovation eco-systems across Europe, the achievements and impact of the objectives of the EIC component and the capacity of innovative firms to roll out their solutions;

(a)

any matter which from an innovation perspective may enhance and foster innovation eco-systems across Europe, and especially cooperation between regional eco-systems and innovation hubs the achievements and impact of the objectives of the EIC component and the capacity of innovative firms to roll out their solutions;

Amendment 34

Article 10(3)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The EIC Board shall be composed of 15 to 20 high-level individuals drawn from various parts of Europe’s innovation ecosystem, including entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, investors and researchers. It shall contribute to outreach actions, with EIC Board members striving to enhance the prestige of the EIC brand.

3.    The EIC Board shall be composed of 15 to 20 high-level individuals drawn from various parts of local, regional, national and European innovation ecosystems, including entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, investors and researchers. It shall contribute to outreach actions, with EIC Board members striving to enhance the prestige of the EIC brand.

Amendment 35

Article 10(4)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The EIC Board shall have a President who shall be appointed by the Commission following a transparent recruitment process. The President shall be a high profile public figure linked to the innovation world.

The EIC Board shall have a President who shall be appointed by the Commission following a transparent recruitment process. The President shall be a high profile public figure linked to the innovation world.

The President shall be appointed for a term of office limited to four years, renewable once.

The President shall chair the EIC Board, prepare its meetings, assign tasks to members, and may establish dedicated sub-groups, in particular to identify emerging technology trends from EIC’s portfolio. He or she shall promote the EIC, act as interlocutor with the Commission and represent the EIC in the world of innovation. The Commission may provide for administrative support for the President to undertake his or her duties.

The President shall be appointed for a term of office limited to four years, renewable once.

The President shall chair the EIC Board, prepare its meetings, assign tasks to members, and may establish dedicated sub-groups, in particular to identify emerging technology trends from EIC’s portfolio , and closely involving regional and national agencies responsible for innovation . He or she shall promote the EIC, act as interlocutor with the Commission and represent the EIC in the world of innovation. The Commission may provide for administrative support for the President to undertake his or her duties.

Amendment 36

Point 1.4.4 of the Legislative Financial Statement

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

Part I, Point 1.4.4. Legislative Financial Statement (page 20 of COM(2018) 436 final)

Horizon Europe is designed to be implemented enabling synergies with other Union funding programmes, in particular through arrangements for complementary funding from EU programmes where management modalities permit; either in sequence, in an alternating way, or through the combination of funds including for the joint funding of actions.

Part I, Point 1.4.4. Legislative Financial Statement (page 20 of COM(2018) 436 final)

Horizon Europe is designed to be implemented enabling synergies with other Union funding programmes, in particular through arrangements for complementary funding from EU programmes where management modalities permit; either in sequence, in an alternating way, or through the combination of funds including for the joint funding of actions.

A non-exhaustive list of such arrangements and funding programmes include synergies with the following programmes:

A non-exhaustive list of such arrangements and funding programmes include synergies with the following programmes:

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Integrated Maritime Policy

Common Fisheries Policy

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

European Social Fund (ESF)

European Social Fund (ESF)

Single Market Programme

Single Market Programme

European Space Programme

European Space Programme

Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

Digital Europe Programme (DEP)

Digital Europe Programme (DEP)

Erasmus Programme

Erasmus Programme

External Instrument

External Instrument

InvestEU Fund

InvestEU Fund

Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community

Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community

Amendment 37

Annex I — Activities, first part, Strategic Planning, third to fifth paragraphs (page 1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

It will include extensive consultations and exchanges with Member States, the European Parliament as appropriate, and with various stakeholders about priorities, including missions, under the ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’ pillar, and the suitable types of action to use, in particular European partnerships.

It will include extensive consultations and exchanges with Member States and their regions, including the outermost regions , the European Parliament as appropriate, and with various stakeholders about priorities, including missions, under the ‘Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness’ pillar, and the suitable types of action to use, in particular European partnerships.

Based on such extensive consultations, the Strategic Planning will identify common objectives and common areas for activities such as partnership areas (the proposed legal basis sets out only the instruments and criteria that will guide their use) and mission areas.

Based on such extensive consultations, the Strategic Planning will identify common objectives and common areas for activities such as partnership areas (the proposed legal basis sets out only the instruments and criteria that will guide their use) and mission areas.

The Strategic Planning will help to develop and realise the implementation of policy for the relevant areas covered, at EU level as well as complementing policy and policy approaches in the Member States. EU policy priorities will be taken into consideration during the Strategic Planning process to increase the contribution of research and innovation to the realisation of policy. It will also take into account foresight activities, studies and other scientific evidence and take account of relevant existing initiatives at EU and national level.

The Strategic Planning will help to develop and realise the implementation of policy for the relevant areas covered, at EU level as well as complementing policy and policy approaches in the Member States and their regions, including the outermost regions . EU policy priorities will be taken into consideration during the Strategic Planning process to increase the contribution of research and innovation to the realisation of policy. It will also take into account foresight activities, studies and other scientific evidence and take account of relevant existing initiatives at EU, national and regional level.

Amendment 38

Annex I — Activities, first part Strategic Planning, 11th and 12th paragraphs (page 2)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

‘FET Flagships’ supported under Horizon 2020 will continue to be supported under this Programme. As they present substantial analogies with missions, other ‘FET flagships’, if any, will be supported under this Framework Programme as missions geared towards future and emerging technologies.

‘FET Flagships’ supported under Horizon 2020 will continue to be supported under this Programme. As they present substantial analogies with missions, other ‘FET flagships’, if any, will be supported under this Framework Programme as missions geared towards future and emerging technologies.

 

The new framework programme will aim to secure better recognition and mobilisation of excellence spread across all of Europe’s Member States and regions; it will in particular foster initiatives to build trans-national and trans-regional cooperation between regional ecosystems and innovation hubs.

Science and Technology Cooperation dialogues with the EU’s international partners and policy dialogues with the main world regions will make important contributions to the systematic identification of opportunities for cooperation which, when combined with differentiation by country/region, will support priority setting.

Science and Technology Cooperation dialogues with the EU’s international partners and policy dialogues with the main world regions will make important contributions to the systematic identification of opportunities for cooperation which, when combined with differentiation by country/region, will support priority setting.

Amendment 39

Annex I — Activities, second part Dissemination and Communication, first and second paragraphs (page 3)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Horizon Europe will provide dedicated support for open access to scientific publications, to knowledge repositories and other data sources. Dissemination and knowledge diffusion actions will be supported, also from cooperation with other EU programmes, including clustering and packaging results and data in languages and formats for target audiences and networks for citizens, industry, public administrations, academia, civil society organisations, and policy makers. For this purpose, Horizon Europe may make use of advanced technologies and intelligence tools.

Horizon Europe will provide dedicated support for open access to scientific publications, to knowledge repositories and other data sources. Dissemination and knowledge diffusion actions will be supported, also from cooperation with other EU programmes, including clustering and packaging results and data in languages and formats for target audiences and networks for citizens, industry, public administrations, academia, civil society organisations, and policy makers. For this purpose, Horizon Europe may make use of advanced technologies and intelligence tools.

There will be appropriate support for mechanisms to communicate the programme to potential applicants (e.g. National Contact Points).

There will be appropriate support for mechanisms to communicate the programme to potential applicants (e.g. National and regional Contact Points), especially for the Member States and regions that had the least involvement with the Horizon 2020 programme.

Amendment 40

Annex I

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES

RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES

Rationale

Rationale

Page 14 of COM(2018) 436 final (Annex I)

Page 14 of COM(2018) 436 final (Annex I)

Activities will contribute to different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as: SDG 3 — Good Health and Well-Being for People; SDG 7 — Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG 9 — Industry Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 13 — Climate Action.

Activities will contribute to different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as: SDG 3 — Good Health and Well-Being for People; SDG 7 — Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG 9 — Industry Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 13 — Climate Action ; SDG 14 — Life Below Water; SDG 17 — Partnerships for the Goals .

Reason

A number of infrastructures belonging to ESFRI relate to the marine environment, justifying the inclusion of SDG 14. The proposal to include SDG 17 stems from the concept of infrastructure that is shared across the entire EU and the ensuing partnership aimed at achieving the objectives.

Amendment 41

Annex I Pillar II

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Broad lines

Broad lines

Reforms in public health systems and policies in Europe and beyond;

Reforms in public health systems and policies in Europe and beyond;

New models and approaches for health and care and their transferability or adaptation from one country/region to another;

New models and approaches for health and care and their transferability or adaptation from one country/region to another , and for the contribution of the voluntary and not-for-profit sector ;

Improving health technology assessment;

Improving health technology assessment;

Evolution of health inequality and effective policy response;

Evolution of health inequality and effective policy response;

Future health workforce and its needs;

Future health workforce and its needs;

Improving timely health information and use of health data, including electronic health records, with due attention to security, privacy, interoperability, standards, comparability and integrity;

Improving timely health information and use of health data, including electronic health records, with due attention to security, privacy, interoperability, standards, comparability and integrity;

Health systems’ resilience in absorbing the impact of crises and to accommodate disruptive innovation;

Health systems’ resilience in absorbing the impact of crises and to accommodate disruptive innovation;

Solutions for citizen and patient empowerment, self-monitoring, and interaction with health and social care professionals, for more integrated care and a user-centred approach;

Solutions for citizen and patient empowerment, self-monitoring, and interaction with health and social care professionals, for more integrated care and a user-centred approach;

Data, information, knowledge and best practice from health systems research at EU-level and globally.

Data, information, knowledge and best practice from health systems research at EU-level and globally.

Amendment 42

Annex I, Broad lines of activities, Pillar II — Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness, Inclusive and Secure Society cluster; Section 2.1, second paragraph (page 24)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The EU must promote a model of inclusive and sustainable growth while reaping the benefits of technological advancements, enhancing trust in and promoting innovation of democratic governance, combatting inequalities, unemployment, marginalisation, discrimination and radicalisation, guaranteeing human rights, fostering cultural diversity and European cultural heritage and empowering citizens through social innovation. The management of migration and the integration of migrants will also continue to be priority issues. The role of research and innovation in the social sciences and the humanities in responding to these challenges and achieving the EU’s goals is fundamental.

The EU must promote a model of inclusive and sustainable growth while reaping the benefits of technological advancements, enhancing trust in and promoting innovation of democratic governance, combatting inequalities, unemployment, marginalisation, discrimination and radicalisation, by protecting and promoting human rights, cultural diversity and European cultural heritage , by improving access to culture and education for all and by empowering citizens through social innovation and the development of a social economy . The management of migration and the reception and integration of migrants will also continue to be priority issues. The role of research and innovation in the social sciences and the humanities in responding to these challenges and achieving the EU’s goals is fundamental.

 

The social inclusion objective must build, in particular, on promoting the cultural heritage, tangible or intangible, which in today’s globalised world plays a central role in people’s sense of belonging, in particular its regional and linguistic aspects. Europe — which has in fact been built over centuries by the coexistence of very diverse communities that have left a huge legacy — should therefore address this challenge and support the preservation and enhancement of heritage, together with the various regions and countries. Such action is all the more relevant in that it is an important field for experimentation and application for a great many technological innovations. Their implementation in the field of heritage constitutes a powerful economic driver in the form of tourism revenue generated for the regions .

Amendment 43

Annex I, Broad lines of activities, Pillar II — Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness, Inclusive and Secure Society cluster; Section 2.1, sixth paragraph (page 25)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Research and Innovation activities in this Global Challenge will be overall aligned with the Commission’s priorities on Democratic Change; employment, growth and investment; justice and fundamental rights; migration; a deeper and more equitable monetary Union; the digital single digital market. It will respond to the commitment of the Rome Agenda to work towards: ‘a social Europe’ and ‘a Union which preserves our cultural heritage and promotes cultural diversity’. It will also support the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Research and Innovation activities in this Global Challenge will be overall aligned with the Commission’s priorities on Democratic Change; employment, growth and investment; education; justice and fundamental rights; migration; a deeper and more equitable monetary Union; the digital single digital market. It will respond to the commitment of the Rome Agenda to work towards: ‘a social Europe’ and ‘a Union which preserves our cultural heritage and promotes cultural diversity’. It will also support the European Pillar of Social Rights and the objective of a knowledge society , and the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Amendment 44

Annex I, Broad lines of activities, Pillar II — Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness, Inclusive and Secure Society cluster; Section 2.2.1 (pages 25 and 26)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Broad lines

Broad lines

The history, evolution and effectiveness of democracies, at different levels and in different forms; digitisation aspects and the effects of social network communication and the role of education and youth policies as cornerstones of democratic citizenship;

The history, evolution and effectiveness of democracies, at different levels and in different forms; digitisation aspects and the effects of social network communication and the role of education and youth policies as cornerstones of democratic citizenship;

Innovative approaches to support the transparency, responsiveness, accountability effectiveness and legitimacy of democratic governance in full respect of fundamental rights and of the rule of law;

Innovative approaches to support the transparency, responsiveness, accountability effectiveness and legitimacy of democratic governance in full respect of fundamental rights and of the rule of law;

Strategies to address populism, extremism, radicalisation, terrorism and to include and engage disaffected and marginalised citizens;

Strategies to address populism, extremism, radicalisation, terrorism and to include and engage disaffected and marginalised citizens;

Better understand the role of journalistic standards and user-generated content in a hyper-connected society and develop tools to combat disinformation;

Better understand the role of journalistic standards and user-generated content in a hyper-connected society and develop tools to combat disinformation;

The role of multi-cultural citizenship and identities in relation to democratic citizenship and political engagement;

The role of multi-cultural citizenship and identities in relation to democratic citizenship and political engagement;

The impact of technological and scientific advancements, including big data, online social networks and artificial intelligence on democracy;

The impact of technological and scientific advancements, including big data, online social networks and artificial intelligence on democracy;

Deliberative and participatory democracy and active and inclusive citizenship, including the digital dimension;

Deliberative and participatory democracy and active and inclusive citizenship, including the digital dimension;

 

The role of cities and regions as places for building citizenship, social and cultural links, the environmental and energy transition, and economic development and innovation; their contribution to the development of social innovation, democratic practices, and local, national and European citizenship;

The impact of economic and social inequalities on political participation and democracies, demonstrating how reversing inequalities and combatting all forms of discrimination including gender, can sustain democracy.

The impact of economic and social inequalities on political participation and democracies, demonstrating how reversing inequalities and combatting all forms of discrimination including gender, can sustain democracy.

Reason

Cities and regions are also a tool for a more secure and inclusive society and their role must be subject to scientific research.

Amendment 45

Annex I — Broad lines of activities, Pillar II — Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness, Inclusive and Secure Society cluster; Section 2.2.3 (pages 26 and 27)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

2.2.3.

Social and Economic Transformations

2.2.3.

Education, Employment and Social and Economic Transformations

European societies are undergoing profound socioeconomic transformations, especially as a result of globalisation and technological innovations. At the same time there has been an increase in income inequality in most European countries. Forward-looking policies are needed, with a view to promoting inclusive growth and reversing inequalities, boosting productivity (including advancements in its measurement) and human capital, responding to migration and integration challenges and supporting intergenerational solidarity and social mobility. Education and training systems are needed for a more equitable and prosperous future.

European societies are undergoing profound socioeconomic transformations, especially as a result of globalisation and technological innovations. At the same time there has been an increase in income inequality in most European countries. Forward-looking policies are needed, with a view to promoting inclusive growth and reversing inequalities, boosting productivity (including advancements in its measurement) and human capital, responding to migration and