For nearly two years the large and unprecedented flow of refugees from war-torn or underdeveloped countries to the European Union has heavily impacted Europe's political and social life. Providing food and shelter for the masses of refugees reaching the EU, familiarising them with the new realities and cultural differences as well as supporting them through their integration process was and still is a major challenge which the concerned Member States could only face thanks to the spontaneous and overwhelming support of citizens and civil society in general.
EESC public hearing on the revision of the ECI instrument on 22 February 2016
"Not just nice words and high ideals, but a concrete tool must be built" – this was the original idea of an instrument allowing citizens "to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required…" laid down in Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty.
The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan is necessary for speeding up the transformation of Europe's energy system, insists the EESC in its opinion on the SET Plan, adopted during the February plenary session. The EESC believes that the new energy policy should be based on developing key sectors for research and innovation and on encouraging new ideas and concepts such as renewable power generation technologies and other low-carbon technologies. The EU has to innovate in terms of how energy is produced and transported, how it is delivered and serviced to customers.
Committee calls for swift action and creativity in solving the job crisis
In view of the worrying job situation and faltering investment in many parts of Europe, at its 17 March plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion on the 2016 annual growth survey (AGS). The EESC is particularly concerned about the high level of unemployment, leaving 22.5 million people without a job. Moreover, nearly a quarter or 122 million Europeans are at risk of poverty or social exclusion – which, according to the EESC, is unacceptable and is the final wake-up call for both the Commission and European leaders.
Resolution of the European Economic and Social Committee in support of the Schengen agreement
At its plenary session of 17 and 18 February 2016 (meeting of 17 February), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted this resolution by 216 to 1 with 4 abstentions.
The 2nd meeting of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform (CSP) focused on the much needed reforms in anti-corruption and energy policy and discussed the state of play in the implementation of the Association Agreement between Europe and Ukraine. The Ukrainian civil society organisations strongly called for a swift implementation of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), in particular, appealing to the Netherlands to support the Agreement ...
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.
The ECO section discusses the Commission's package on Deepening EMU with Valdis Dombrovskis, Roberto Gualtieri and other institutional and civil society representatives
On 26 January 2016, the EESC's Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO) held a thematic debate on the Commission's Deepening EMU package that was presented in October 2015. The package outlines the roadmap and some specific proposals for a stronger and genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). In order to gain a complete overview on the current state of EMU and on the future developments, the ECO section invited a number of distinguished speakers to present the perspectives of the European Parliament, the Commission, the financial institutions and the European civil society.
A quantum leap or more of the same medicine: can National Competitiveness Boards foster economic convergence and how? The Belgian experience - Luc Denayer, Central Economic Council, Belgium
Euro Area: Which reforms for better economic governance? - Jeffrey Franks, IMF
The ECB’s role in a balanced policy-mix to sustain European recovery and promote growth in EMU - Frank Moss, ECB
Europe needs the courage to change from carbon-based energy generation
COP21 was a success, as it resulted in an ambitious, universal framework. But for this success to continue, we will need to change the way we organise our energy dependent economies. Civil society can play a key role in bringing about this change. In terms of energy, we need to facilitate decarbonisation. The burden of transition from a carbon dependent society must be shared equally and fairly, and where necessary also accompanied by social plans. The transition will also bring opportunities for the EU economy and we should seize them.
On 14-15 January, four projects funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development held a conference in Brussels, co-hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee, to present their findings, conceptual developments, concrete messages and policy recommendations on Responsible Research and Innovation.
The results are in. After an impressive 428 applications to take part in Your Europe, Your Say! (YEYS) 2016, 33 schools from 28 EU Member States and five candidate countries have been selected to take part. We are thrilled that so many young people have expressed interest in this exciting event, and we can’t wait to meet the winning schools and students in March.