The EESC President Staffan Nilsson met the European Parliament President, Martin Schulz, to discuss ways to take the cooperation between the two institutions forward. On a general note and related to the crisis of confidence by the citizens in the EU, Martin Schulz considers the EESC as having an important role to play in reaching out to citizens through the grassroots civil society organisations the Committee represents and through all our advisory work.
On the topic of the EU's cooperation with Southern Mediterranean countries, the EESC President informed President Schulz of our next Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and similar institutions (Amman, 17-19 October 2012), tackling issues such as the role of women, social dialogue, freedom of the media, corruption and sustainable development. President Nilsson asked the support of the European Parliament for the setting up of an Assembly of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions with the status of a consultative body within the structures of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The two institutions have been carrying the same messages on the Arab Spring uprisings and been looking into the same policy areas to encourage further progress in the region: support to SMEs, free trade agreements, visa access for students and business people as well as strengthening the social dialogue and cooperation with trade unions on these matters.