Results of the EESC's February Plenary Session

March 4, 2003

Brussels, 28 th February 2003

    Highlights Of the February Plenary Session :
      Adoption of a Resolution for the Spring European Council concerning the Lisbon Strategy (covered in a separate press release click here for details)

      Fourteen Opinions adopted including thoseon consumer policy , research , detergents , the financial participation of salaried workers and sustainable development ;

      " Policy shaping rather than policy making ": Sir Albert Bore, President of the Committee of the Regions, outlines his vision of the role of the EESC and the CoR and describes the concept of a citizen's Europe as "a real opportunity for both bodies".

Main Opinions adopted during the session

    Opinion on the Commission's Strategy for Consumer Policy 2002-2006

    Rapporteur: Mrs Ann Davison (Group 3, Various interests, United Kingdom)

    Adopted without debate: 84 in favour; 1 against; abstentions 2

    The Committee endorses the Commission's priorities as an ambitious extension of the existing policies concerning the importance to consumers of the successful completion of the Single Market. The Committee endorses the importance of recognising that consumer policies cannot be developed in isolation and that their systematic integration into all other relevant EU policy areas particularly education - is essential. The EESC therefore stresses that a fourth priority , namely the integration of consumer protection into other Community policy areas, particularly education, is needed. The Committee also urges the Commission to establish a plan to fully support carefully targeted campaigns to enhance public awareness of consumer safety.

    Opinion on Commission Communication on the European Research Area

    Rapporteur: Mr Gerd Wolf (Group 3, Various interests, Germany)

    Adopted following debate: 72 in favour; 7 against; abstentions 4

    The Committee welcomes the Communication in principle and supports its aims. It emphasises the importance of a European research area and appreciates the progress made thus far in the creation of an internal market for research. The Committee however recommends adapting new measures on research promotion, coordination and networking to the delicate operating conditions of top quality science and research. It also stresses the fundamental importance of adequate mobility for scientists and researchers in terms of spreading information.

    Opinion on more research for Europe: Towards 3% of GDP

    Rapporteur: Mrs Ulla Birgitta Sirkeinen (Group 1, Employers, Finland)

    Adopted without debate: in favour 108; 0 against; abstentions 1

    The Committee underlines that, particularly in times of an economic slow-down, research and development should be seen as an investment and not a cost . The goals of economic growth, employment, high environmental and health standards and balanced sustainable development can only be achieved the Committee believes, by more knowledge, research and development and innovation.

    Opinion on detergents

    Rapporteur: Mr Richard Adams (Group 3, Various interests, United Kingdom)

    Adopted without debate: in favour 106; against 1; abstentions 3

    The Committee notes and sympathises with the very real concern and dissatisfaction of numerous European environmental scientists with the Commission proposal. It urges the Commission and the detergents industry to promote the adoption of completely biodegradable and non-toxic products and their use in manufacture in conjunction with a programme of positive consumer education.

    Opinion on the financial participation of workers

    Rapporteur: Mr Mario Sepi (Group 2, Employees, Italy)

    Adopted without debate: in favour 98; against 5; abstentions 6

The Committee underlines that the principle of financial participation is coherent with the social cohesion and economic development targets that the EU has fixed itself. The Committee also underlines the importance of taking financial participation of workers into account within company governance in terms of growth and improved transparency within European companies.

    Opinion on the Lisbon Strategy and sustainable development

    Rapporteur: Mr Ernst Ehnmark (Group 2, Employees, Sweden)

    Co-rapporteur: Mr Lutz Ribbe (Group 3, Various interests, Germany)

    Adopted following debate: in favour 98; against 2; abstentions 4

    The EESC regrets that sustainable development is still not fully integrated into the Lisbon Strategy and not recognised as one of the most important challenges facing the EU. The Committee calls on the Spring European Council to firmly re-establish sustainable development as an overarching objective for the EU.

    It also proposes that the summit should launch a coherent action in the EU leading to lower dependence on fossil fuels.

    The following Opinions were also adopted during the plenary session:

    Civil Responsibility: circulation of motor vehicles Rapporteur: Mr Philippe Levaux (Group 1,  Employers, France). Adopted with debate: in favour 81; against 5, abstentions 6

    Drug Precursors Rapporteur Mrs Le Nouail Marliere (Group 2, Employees, France). Adopted  without debate: in favour 106; against 2, abstentions 3

    Co-generation Rapporteur: Mr Buffetaut (Group 1, Employers, France). Adopted without  debate: in favour 107; against 1, abstentions 2

    Insurance/Air Transport Mr Santillan Cabeza (Group 2, Employees, Spain). Adopted without  debate: in favour 112; against 0, abstentions 2

    Official inspections/Animal products destined for human consumption Rapporteur:   Mr Donnelly (Group 3, Various interests, Republic of Ireland). Adopted without debate: in  favour 108; against 2, abstentions 4

    Erasmus World (2004-2008) Rapporteur: Mr Rodriguez Garcia Caro (Group 1, Employers,  Spain). Adopted without debate: in favour 110; against 0, abstentions 2

    Compensation for victims of crime Rapporteur: Mr Koryfidis (Group 2, Employees, Greece).   Adopted without debate: in favour 110; against 0, abstentions 2

      Speech by the Sir Albert Bore, President of the Committee of the Regions

      "Both our institutions are implementers and deliverers of consultation" , said Mr Bore as he addressed members. "A citizen's Europe is a real opportunity for both our bodies" , he continued.

      Turning to the work of the Convention he emphasised the importance of having a constitutional treaty that strengthens the consultation element : "Article 34 of the initial draft Treaty refers to participative democracy and is a positive sign that the final Constitutional Treaty will include specific proposals for early consultation with civil society and the local and regional authorities in which it interacts", he continued.

      "In our respective effort to build new profiles for our Committees, we have demonstrated the importance of establishing and strengthening constant dialogue with our institutional and political partners, demonstrating our capacity for sub-national territorial bodies and civil society to deliver added value into the policy shaping process . This affirms our key role as deliverers and implementers of the principle of proximity as outlined in the Laeken declaration", he stressed.

      "Member States cannot criticise the decision making process in relation to unpopular policies without opening that same process up to more transparency, more co-decision with the European Parliament and more consultation with sub-national bodies and more participation of social actors", he continued.

      Mr Bore however noted that there has been a change in the attitude of the Commission and Member States' representatives within the Convention concerning the important roles of both the CoR and the EESC. "Both have realised the need for more consultation at EU", he said.

      Mr President of the Committee of the Regions also stressed he would welcome greater cooperation between the EESC and the CoR in areas such as the Lisbon process, external relations and common evaluation methods for major European proposals.

      Members welcomed the speech and its emphasis on injecting more consultation into EU decision-making. Giacomo Regaldo (Group 1 President Employers) emphasised that EU policy risked failing if it was not properly applied on the ground. That implied the need for greater consultation. Mario Sepi (Group 2 President Employees) spoke of the importance of developing a spirit of participatory democracy in the EU affairs and Mr Richard Adams (for Group 3 Various interests) spoke of the need to do more to involve and attract the attention of the citizens when both the EESC and CoR carried out its work.

      For more details, please contact Vasco de Oliveira or Tristan Macdonald at the EESC Press Office.

      Tel: 02 546 9396/9586; Mobile: 0475 753 202;

      The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

      Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the Community decision-making process.

      The Committee has 222 members. Its members are appointed by the Council.<>

      [Tables]

      DN: CES/03/13 Date: 28/02/2003

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