The EESC industrial change section inaugurates its new term and adopts the 2021 work programme

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On 13 January the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) of the European Economic and Social committee (EESC) held its inaugural meeting to welcome new members and adopt the 2021work programme.

The CCMI president, Pietro Francesco De Lotto, vice-president Monika Sitarova and the EESC's members and external delegates, whose term of office runs from November 2020 to November 2025, adopted the CCMI's Political Guidelines and Work Programme for 2021 unanimously.

The work programme is based on three main pillars:

In his introductory remarks, Mr De Lotto, who chaired the meeting, highlighted the unique role of the CCMI within the EESC as a pool of specialised industrial expertise. He reflected on the ongoing crisis and commented on the industrial change.

European industry doesn't just have to survive this crisis, but also to create the conditions for better global competitiveness based on the energy and digital transition. The relevant European bodies, institutions and organisations need to support it in this said Mr De Lotto.

The role of the CCMI in pursuing the priorities of the three EESC groups

The new members and external delegates of the CCMI were welcomed by the EESC group presidents.

Stefano Mallia, president of the Employers Group, said that the CCMI's core task is to anticipate and manage industrial change. Its members and delegates bring to the Brussels policy environment knowledge of the situation on the ground in their home country. A lot of production capacity and many jobs have been lost during the unprecedented pandemic. Civil society must be involved in shaping national recovery plans. The CCMI must conduct a sector-by-sector analysis of the COVID crisis so that we are fully prepared for the reconstruction of our economy stressed Mr. Mallia.

Oliver Röpke, president of the Workers' Group, said that as a result of the pandemic the employment and social situation will further deteriorate in the coming months. For this reason, the emergency support measures must continue. The CCMI is well-placed to examine the industrial sectors one by one but also to address cross-cutting issues. Europe needs a just transition where no one is left behind. Workers need to have a clear say in this process: strong collective bargaining, effective social dialogue are necessary he said.

Séamus Boland, president of the Diversity Europe Group, said that the self-employed, micro companies, SMEs and also large industries are facing a precarious situation due to COVID, but at the same time they also have to manage the green and digital transitions. We are witnessing the greatest changes since the industrial revolution, the solution is the green and digital transitions and the CCMI is well-placed to keep pace with the changing realities, highlighted Mr. Boland.

United for the Future of Europe: the role of the EESC and the CCMI in the post-pandemic EU

A debate on the role of the EESC and CCMI in the post-pandemic Europe took place during this meeting, where two guest speakers presented their views.

Marta Lima Basto, Deputy Director General, Directorate-General for Economic Activities of the Portuguese Presidency, presented the presidency's three main priorities:

  • promoting a European recovery leveraged by the climate and digital transitions;
  • delivering on the European Union's Social Pillar as a key element for achieving ensure fair and inclusive climate and digital transitions;
  • strengthening the strategic autonomy of a Europe that is open to the world.

The Portuguese Presidency will hold the closing session of the Single Market Forum in Lisbon, in June.

Jean Paul Fitoussi, a French economist, talked about the prospects for EU industry in the aftermath of the pandemic. EU industrial policy faces a series of challenges that need to be addressed: its relationship with competition rules; the importance of fostering in parallel industrial competitiveness, social cohesion and the fight against inequality; the need to embed industrial policy objectives in macroeconomic policy usage. There is only one path forward to overcome all these challenges: a deeper European Union, which is a market and global power rather than a mere assembly of member states he concluded.