On 23 and 24 March, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted the 14th Your Europe, Your Say! (YEYS!) event, bringing 105 students from 35 schools from all 27 EU Member States and the seven candidate countries to Brussels. Given the many societal and economic challenges, a shrinking civic space and threats to peace and fundamental rights, this year's conference focused on "Youth Democracy Dialogues" and aimed to ensure that the voices of young people are heard when Europe's future is shaped.
On 23 March, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held a plenary debate and adopted a resolution entitled "United for Democracy" with concrete proposals to strengthen democracies and democratic values across the European Union. Policymakers, experts, and organised civil society representatives agreed that civic education, better funding to social partners and a focus on the local dimension, are key to democracy in Europe.
At its March plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted Ambassador Lachezara Stoeva, president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Ambassador Stoeva strongly supported the key role civil society must play in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
At its plenary session in March, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held a debate with Italy's Minister of Labour and Social Policies, Marina Elvira Calderone, on making EU labour markets stronger and more inclusive. The EESC reiterated its support for the European Commission's proposal to strengthen national equality bodies, which are entrusted with promoting equality for all and combating discrimination in employment.
At the European Economic and Social Committee's March plenary, EESC President Christa Schweng and European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson reiterated the bloc's strong commitment to Europe's clean energy future.
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Every year, schools from all European Union Member States and candidate countries are invited to apply to take part and one school from each country is then selected at random. The selected schools each choose three pupils and one accompanying teacher to come to Brussels for two days, to work together, debate and draw up resolutions addressed to the EU institutions. All secondary schools in Europe can apply and this year, it could be your school!
War on European soil, post-pandemic recovery, democratic values under increasing pressure on both sides of the EU’s borders: these seismic shifts have left no doubt that civil society organisations are more important than ever - for both social cohesion and democracy in Europe. A strong, independent and diverse civil society is a key ingredient in ensuring a resilient democracy, able to safeguard both our fundamental rights and the integrity of our democratic way of life.
Opinions in the spotlight
The EESC proposes to launch a European Care Guarantee, which would ensure life-long access to affordable quality healthcare and care services for everyone living in the EU. It also underlines the importance of supporting families in their fundamental role as caregivers and asks for adopting specific measures to tackle Gender equality, namely addressing gender stereotypes, attracting more men in the sector and ensure better distribution of care within households.