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Transition to a circular economy is a must if we are to protect our planet, but also if we are to increase the competitiveness of European industry. This is a long-term process that will require numerous initiatives at European, national and regional level. Companies see the circular economy as an opportunity. "Going green" is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for businesses, providing real savings in terms of raw materials, water and energy. Apart from its environmental and economic benefits, the circular economy also has social advantages, providing new jobs and new business models.


On Tuesday 30 August, Georges Dassis, president of the European Economic and Social Committee, received Dr Ian Borg, Parliamentary Secretary for the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union and European funds, at the Committee building. Dr Borg was accompanied by H.E. Marlene Bonnici, Permanent Representative of Malta to the European Union.


Wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable criminal activities in the world due to strong demand and a low risk of detection. In spite of this, it still gets less attention than other types of crime and far fewer resources are invested in combating it. Therefore, in its opinion adopted at the July plenary, the EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking. This crime is closely connected to other illegal activities of international criminal organisations, including money laundering and corruption. It also has a huge negative impact on the environment (loss of biodiversity, deforestation, potential extinction of several species, fish stock reduction) and health (contagion from new pathogens, infectious diseases).


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.


Statement by Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, Vice-President of the EESC, on International Youth Day

Today we celebrate International Youth Day, which recognises the power of youth in transforming the world. First launched in Lisbon in 1998, this year's International Youth Day is dedicated to promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their aim to fight global poverty and promote a sustainable world for all. Our ability to implement the SDGs effectively will determine the future of today's youth.


The Paris Agreement is rightly seen as a milestone in the fight against climate change as it is the first such convention to be legally binding under international law.  Europe played no minor role in putting the necessary pressure to clinch this deal. But the 177 signatures of heads of states and governments alone won't be enough. Now it is time for Europe to take the lead again and implementing the necessary policies. This, however, will only be successful with the full involvement of European citizens ....


We have started receiving applications for the 2016 Civil Society Prize, which will reward projects supporting migrants and refugees. We are very happy to have already candidates from France, Germany, Italy and Spain. But we are looking forward to receiving many more from these and other Member States. If you or your organisation are involved in such projects, you can still enter until the 9th  of September.


When the international economic and financial crisis struck, it exposed the structural limitations and contradictions in EMU, depriving the euro of its propensity to attract. The crisis proves that it takes much more than a set of "accountancy" rules such as the stability pact and others, because the underlying problems are not technical but economic and political. Some progress has been made in the past few years by putting in place new rules and mechanisms, notably parts of a Banking Union, but the construction works are far from being completed yet, which contributes to the persisting climate of uncertainty among citizens and business, and hinders the growth potential of the European economy ...