22 May 2012
Tax havens and social economy at the EESC plenary session
At the 481st plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), to be held on 23 and 24 May, the Committee will vote on important opinions regarding financial and tax havens, social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. Furthermore, the plenary session will host two debates on Wednesday; the first one will focus on EU finances, in the presence of Louis Galea, Member of the European Court of Auditors. The second one will address EU consumer policy and consumers' rights, where the plenary will welcome John Dalli, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.
Venue: European Parliament, József Antall building
Room JAN 2Q2, Brussels
Start: 2.30 p.m., Wednesday, 23 April
You can follow the plenary session live on:
Opinions in the spotlight:
Financial and tax havens
In its opinion (rapporteur: Edgardo Maria Iozia, Workers' Group) the EESC argues that tax havens distort the internal market and therefore the EU must combat this in various international fora, including the G20 meeting of major economies, the OECD group of wealthy countries and the specialised body of Financial Action Tax Force (FATF). Effective EU action must put an end to tax evasion and crime-related money laundering taking place in tax havens. The EESC advocates the full removal of obstacles to an automatic exchange of bank information so that the authors of transactions and owners of bank accounts can be identified. In addition, the Committee demands specific restrictions on the right to establish companies. Such limitations would enable the filtering out of bogus businesses being set up exclusively for tax evasion purposes. The EESC condemns, in particular, the increasing abuse of the "principle of residence", which enables company owners to dodge taxes in the country their firm operates in.
Social cohesion, growth and employment
The social economy sector employs more than 11 million people in the EU, which amounts to 6% of all workers. Through a two-opinion package (rapporteurs Giuseppe Guerini and Ariane Rodert, Various Interests' Group) the EESC will take a stance on social entrepreneurship and social enterprises. Among other recommendations, the EESC will invite the Commission and Member states to make public procurement more accessible to social enterprises, develop national frameworks for the growth and development of social enterprises and appropriately implement the European Social Entrepreneurship Fund. According to the EESC, this new fund should be accompanied by other financial instruments dedicated to the development of social enterprises; the European Social Entrepreneurship Fund is not sufficient enough to single handily improve access to appropriate capital.
Corporate social responsibility
The European Commission published a new policy on corporate social responsibility (CSR) for the period 2011-2014. The EESC opinion on this subject, drawn-up by Jorge Pegado Liz (Various Interests' Group) is critical of the proposal and calls for a number of amendments. While supporting the intention to provide financial support for CSR education and training projects, and raising awareness on the importance of CSR, the Committee criticises the lack of plans to encourage and help enterprises to take responsibility for their impact on society. The EESC also calls for greater attention to be paid to SMEs and to the civil society sector, which have been neglected in the CSR policy initiative. Finally, the opinion suggests that the EU should promote an authoritative international framework for CSR.
The Committee endorses the Commission's proposal that sets out a general framework for data protection; it welcomes, in particular, the strong focus on citizens' fundamental rights. However, the EESC regrets the excessive number of exceptions and restrictions that go with the good principles enshrined in the text. In an opinion drafted by Madi Sharma (Employers' Group), the Committee suggests some improvements to the Commission's document. Among them, it suggests to include explicit restrictions on the activities of some search engines, social networks and/or online storage providers that collect users' data for commercial ends.
The EESC will endorse an opinion (rapporteur Stefano Palmieri, Workers' Group; co-rapporteur Jacek Krawczyk, Employers' Group) on the next Multi-annual Financial Framework 2014-2020. According to the EESC, the EU budget should be increased in order to revitalise economic growth and employment. Freezing the MFF in real terms at current levels would mean failing to address many of the challenges that the EU will have to face in the coming years. The EESC will fully support the introduction of a new system of own resources, arising from a modified VAT resource and the financial transaction tax (FTT), and a CAP reform intended to deliver an efficient and effective European model of agriculture. On the contrary, the EESC is clearly opposed to the idea of applying macroeconomic conditionality to the disbursement of cohesion policy funds. Finally, the EESC will call for an EU budget that serves as a clear illustration of both the advantages of Europe and the costs of "non-Europe".
Energy roadmap 2050
In its assessment of the EU's Energy Roadmap 2050, drafted jointly by Richard Adams (Various Interests' Group) and Pierre Jean Coulon (Workers' Group), the Committee is expected to point out that the EU as a whole and some Member States are lagging behind existing targets. It calls for increased momentum towards energy efficiency goals and suggests enhancing on-going monitoring of targets set under the energy strategy. The assessment is also likely to call for a higher and more stable price for carbon emissions.
To counsel the Danish Presidency on the digital way forward, the EESC's upcoming opinion drawn up by Laure Batut (Workers' Group) will look into ways of harnessing economic growth through the digital single market. It will suggest how to strengthen the demand and supply of online goods and services across the continent and offer tips on how to boost certainty for consumers and improve the environment for businesses. The stakes are high for the EU as studies show that the single digital market would add 4% to Europe's GDP by 2020.
A strategy for the Atlantic Region
In response to the European Commission's proposal for a new EU Strategy for the Atlantic Region, the EESC will vote its opinion (rapporteur Luis Miguel Pariza Castaños, Workers' Group) on this matter. It will propose a more ambitious approach that incorporates not only a maritime pillar, but also a territorial pillar, which count on their own funding and the necessary administrative structures. The EESC opinion has already been backed by the European Parliament, the governments of the regions of the Atlantic Arc Commission, the Economic and Social Councils within the Transnational Atlantic Arc and a number of civil society stakeholders.
For more information, please contact:
Karin Füssl, Head of the Press Unit
Tel.: +32 2 546 8722
European Economic and Social Committee
Rue Belliard 99, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 546 8207 – Fax: +32 2 546 9764
To edit or cancel your subscription to the EESC mailing list, click the following link:
Les informations contenues dans ce message et/ou ses annexes sont réservées à l'attention et à l'utilisation de leur destinataire et peuvent être confidentielles.
Si vous n'êtes pas destinataire de ce message, vous êtes informé que vous l'avez reçu par erreur et que toute utilisation en est interdite.
Dans ce cas, vous êtes prié de le détruire et d'en informer l'émetteur.
The information in this message and/or attachments is intended solely for the attention and use of the intended recipient and may be confidential.
If you are not the intended recipient of this message, you are hereby notified that you have received it in error and that any use of it is prohibited.
In such a case, please delete this message and kindly notify the sender accordingly.