With this year drawing to a close, we reflect on the problems Europeans are currently facing in Europe, including systemic difficulties such as unemployment, dwindling faith in the EU and its institutions and conflicts that are giving rise to forced migration. But the coming of the New Year also brings hope, as 2015 will begin with a new and restructured Commission, a newly formed European Parliament, and a new President of the European Council.
The good news is that the European project is very deeply rooted, being anchored in the hearts and souls of millions of our fellow citizens. But for the European Union to be able to meet people's needs and expectations, we need to see major changes, which must be embarked on without delay.
I am certain that together, we can make the difference.
I wish you very happy holidays and a good start of the New Year, full of joy!
President of the European Economic and Social Committee
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) believes that the prospect of a European circular economy should bring a major boost to the systemic competitiveness of the EU, a driver for growth and a generator of new green jobs and skills, providing it is based on a shared European strategic vision with active participation from the world of work, governments, employers and employees, consumers and legislative and regulatory authorities at various levels.
The Committee calls for the launch of a major participatory foresight initiative at European level, with a view to moulding a common vision among all public and private players, in order to pave the way for a consensus-based transition to a circular economy with coherent and effective policies and instruments at EU, national and regional levels, and in order to give concrete impetus to the green innovation agenda
The European Economic and Social Committee launches its annual online video competition for the third time
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the new direction taken by the European Commission in its 2015 work programme which was published today. The EESC is pleased that the new programme is very much to the point and is focused on the major challenges of the future rather than on the details that so often give rise to overelaborate legislation which the public finds simply impossible to understand. However, the EESC stresses the importance of giving practical expression to these new provisions – something for which its contribution to the work programme adopted unanimously by the representatives of employers, employees and civil society – provides some guidelines.
At its last plenary session in 2014, the EESC reiterated its support for the policy package "Towards a circular economy: A zero waste programme for Europe" launched by the Barroso Commission last summer. The Committee urged the new Commission to move forward with this initiative, including the legislative proposals amending several waste directives, which would help to put an end to the current linear economic model of "take, make, consume and dispose". Europe's economy needs to shift to a circular model making smart and efficient use of natural resources.
IN THIS ISSUE: Europe 2020: the future is now or never; Round table on planned obsolescence; Milan Declaration – EESC calls for a Europe which cares for its people; Civil society perspectives on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).