A delegation from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) carried out earlier this week a visit to Bulgaria to hear first-hand from civil society organisations dealing with the migration and refugee situation on the ground. This visit is part of a total of 12 missions organised by the EESC to 11 EU countries plus Turkey, which started with Austria in December 2015 and will finish with the visit to Turkey in February 2016.
Brussels, 14 November 2015
In the name of all my colleagues, members of the European Economic and Social Committee, who represent before the European Institutions all the major employer, trade union and citizen-based organisations in the European Union, I would like to express our indignation and outrage on the cowardly and barbaric attacks which have been committed in Paris this night.
Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends, the French people and their institutions with whom we express our complete solidarity.
These stupid, vile and despicable murderers obsessed with hatred, attack the people, democracy and fundamental values of the French Republic. In this way, they attack the people, our democracy and fundamental values in Europe because they are one in the same. They will not win over. They will not weaken us. They will not achieve any of their goals: our unity around the values of European democracy, which owe moreover a great deal to the French Republic, will be even more reinforced.
One thing is clear: the whole of organized civil society in Europe, and by this we mean, the whole of the employer, trade union and citizen-based organisations in the European Union, is united against them, and is with the French people.
European Economic and Social Committee
En marge de la réunion du Bureau du Comité économique et social européen qui s'est tenue ce mardi 10 novembre 2015 dans les locaux de la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne, le président du Comité a eu l'occasion de rencontrer le Dr Koen Lenaerts, président de la Cour.
Social dumping in the road transport sector and problems with cross-border infrastructure were the main topics at the transport conference held by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Economic and Social Council of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on 11 and 12 November. The conference was attended by François Bausch, Luxembourg's Minister for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure; Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and the Environment and MEP Jutta Steinruck from the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.
On 23 October the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) co-organised a seminar entitled Will the Climate Conference keep its promises? The seminar was organised by the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the Union of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions of the Francophone Member States and governments (UCESIF), the Union of Economic and Social Councils of Africa (UESA) and the World Forum for a Responsible Economy, in preparation for COP21.
During a ceremony at the EESC, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has appointed the musician Ozark Henry as its Goodwill Ambassador for Belgium against human trafficking. The appointment of this a well-known Belgian performing artist is aimed at increasing visibility and assisting in mobilizing support in the country to tackle human trafficking.
Shortly after the beginning of his mandate as EESC President, Georges Dassis met with the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans. Mr Dassis presented the EESC's recommendations for the Commission's 2016 annual Work Programme. Among others, these included accelerated economic integration and convergence, strengthening democracy in the EU, reinforcing the European social model, and establishing a new migration policy.
"Appropriate finance facilities for businesses are a key prerequisite for economic growth". The 1st European Microfinance Day (EMD) on 19 and 20 Oct 2015 was co-organised by the EESC to raise awareness of microfinance as a tool to fight social exclusion and unemployment in Europe. In the presence of Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, the President of the EESC´s ECO Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion, Mr Joost van Iersel, underlined the importance in the EU of strengthening competitiveness, sustainable development and social inclusion.
The European Citizens' Initiative, the European Parliament as co-legislator in the majority of EU policies, an enhanced role for national parliaments: the Lisbon Treaty has brought about many positive changes to bridge the gap between the EU and its citizens. However, the existing Treaties provide untapped opportunities which could be grasped to improve policies and strengthen the EU both internally and externally. Whether exploring deeper policy action or improving implementation, there is a wealth of policy areas and technical instruments which could be tapped. This should be the current priority for the European Union and its institutional set-up, says the European Economic and Social Committee.
EESC resolution on the current refugee crisis
The current unacceptable situation of asylum seekers calls for a robust strategy at EU level in cooperation with Member States, social partners and other stakeholders to immediately address the multiple issues refugees are facing.
The ongoing humanitarian crisis endured by so many refugees is of great concern to our Committee as every day men, women and children are risking their lives to reach Europe. The scale of the current refugee crisis is unprecedented and a number of Member States are disproportionately affected by it. The challenging situation requires European Member States to show solidarity both towards people fleeing war, persecution, conflict and poverty and towards each other. Ensuring safe entry and welcoming them is the responsibility for all Member States and is part of our fundamental European values.
Applications for the 7th EESC Civil Society Prize are now closed and eligibility screening has been completed. More that 100 applications from 24 Member States were received – the highest response to the EESC prize to date.