To prevent forced labour, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) emphasises the importance of international cooperation and the institutional anchoring of organised civil society in the Commission's new proposal. The Committee recommends guidelines to assist companies, a specific database with risk indicators and a benchmarking system.
At the European Economic and Social Committee plenary session on Wednesday, EESC members discussed the EU's response to geopolitical challenges with Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament. The presidents of both institutions agreed that competitiveness, together with more strategic autonomy, is crucial in the current challenging times.
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At its January plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the EU's new approach to Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) as laid out in the recent EC Communication on "The power of trade partnerships". The EESC supports the comprehensive review setting a new benchmark on TSD and recognizes this important step heading in the right direction.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs a new and strengthened governance of the oceans, calling for increased international cooperation, the safeguarding of the well-being of the marine environment and the protection of fish stocks from overfishing, given their vital importance for local communities.
At its January plenary session, the EESC debated the EU's "Strategic Compass" vision for security and defence, pointing out that security should be understood broadly, far beyond military defence. Civilian and preventive security policy should complement military defence capabilities, with NATO being the EU's key security provider. Civil society should not be a bystander in security issues. In fact, as proven in the current war in Ukraine, it can have a stabilising role in times of crisis.
On Tuesday 24 January, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held an exchange of views with Guillaume Lafortune, Vice-President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), on the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The debate revealed that the EU is failing to meet the objectives of the UN's 2030 Agenda. Yet, there is hope. The EU has the opportunity to take the lead, including through financial support. The EESC plays an important role in monitoring progress.
The January plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) featured a debate during which the Swedish Minister for EU Affairs, Jessika Roswall, presented the priorities of the new presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The EESC president
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!
Post-pandemic recovery, war on European soil, 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.