Florian MARIN has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) from the workers' group (GR-II) since 2020. He represents the Federation of Free Trade Union in Romania, of which he's the president. He is currently a member of the NAT section and his work focuses, among others, on topics such as rural and sustainable development, sustainable food systems, circular economy and deforestation.
What drives you to be an active and engaged EESC and NAT section member? How do you make the link with your work (and your life) back home?
My motivation is to ensure that workers' interests are well represented, to secure a fair climate transition and to support the implementation of the sustainable development goals. Job protection, better working conditions, high-quality jobs, career opportunities and predictability, social protection for vulnerable people and reducing inequalities are drivers and concrete objectives for my work in the EESC and NAT section.
All these are major challenges and important responsibilities because the need to leave no one behind must be more than a slogan, it must become a reality. The NAT section is one of the best places to support workers, given the significant changes in environmental and agricultural legislation which are affecting workers' interests and will continue to do so.
My ambition is that all three pillars of sustainable development are equally taken into account in public policies, that equality and equity are widely integrated into EU public policies and that sustainable development truly becomes an opportunity for all.
The synergy between my activities in the EESC and my work back home revolves around my responsibilities as a trade union leader, due to the fact that I am President of the Federation of Free Trade Unions in Romania. Most EU legislation is implemented at local level and, for this reason, preparing our national and local trade unions to organise, and to respond, adapt to and help meet the environmental challenges in a way in which the workers' interest is protected, is crucial.
Adapting the collective bargaining negotiations in which I or my colleagues are involved to the latest EU policies and ensuring high-quality representation play a big part in my work at the EESC, with this being an important link between my European and national activities. This is complemented by my research activity on topics such as rural and sustainable development, sustainable food systems or circular economy.
In your first mandate at the EESC, you have already participated in various work and activities related to sustainable food, environmental protection, circular economy, etc. Where do you see the biggest potential for the EESC to promote the social dimension of sustainability?
The EESC is a pool of expertise, commitment and engagement, an organisation of compromise and the voice of civil society at the European level. Transfer of expertise, raising awareness, campaigning and providing concrete and helpful solutions are key elements of the EESC's activities. Working at the grass-root level, carefully connected to the economic and social realities combined with a high level of expertise, plays a very important role in promoting the social dimension of sustainability.
The EESC is an excellent promoter of European values, including social sustainability and sustainable development, and the ideal institution for supporting sustainable food production and consumption alongside the circular economy. The EESC has the capacity to deliver balanced and equitable solutions, while connecting various environmental, economic and social interests.
The greatest scope for the EESC to promote the social dimension of sustainability lies in fairness. We have to ensure more fairness for farmers along food chains, access to sustainable food at affordable and fair prices, a fair distribution of costs for climate transitions but also fair working conditions, including in circular economy systems.
Europe and its future need fairness for current and future generations and this is the EESC's responsibility!
The social dimension of sustainability must not be limited to a specific concept or dimension. A cross-cutting approach is needed to the social aspect of future development policies because, in my opinion, the social dimension is becoming increasingly linked to trust in our sustainable future. We need to offer inclusiveness, access to opportunities and, as already mentioned by various stakeholders, we must not leave anyone behind.
You were the co-rapporteur for the EESC opinion on deforestation, adopted at the last plenary. What is your take on the Commission proposal? Why do you believe it is a relevant opinion?
The Commission's proposal on deforestation is an important step in stopping forest degradation in third countries but more social ambition is needed. Workers' rights, health and safety, career predictability, access to a fair pension system and quality jobs for workers in the wood industry and forest communities as well as indigenous people's rights should be taken into account. Social partners and civil society can and should have a concrete role in monitoring the effectiveness of reducing deforestation inside the EU but also in third countries. The Commission's proposal is welcome, as it effectively addresses the environmental problems of forests in third countries.
The opinion is highly relevant because EU consumption and production are responsible for deforestation in third countries. The EU is the biggest importer for some commodities, a situation that enables the EU to have a strong influence on ensuring deforestation-free products in the producing countries. Also, ensuring the same level of environmental ambition and fair competition between EU and third country producers is very important for the economy and for environmental protection, as is the need to deliver a global response to the environmental crisis which we are currently living through.