The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held the Civil Society for rEUnaissance event on 21 February 2019 to discuss the key role that organised civil society must play for the future of Europe - just over 90 days from the European elections. The event brought together the highest representatives of the European institutions and civil society organisations from across the entire EU, among them 16‑year‑old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Committee of the Regions President Karl-Heinz Lambertz.
Πρόεδρος της ΕΟΚΕ
This is an important day. We are gathered here a little over ninety days before the European elections to ask the question: are we brave enough to grasp the urgency of the moment?
As British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a new attempt by a cross-party group of MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit and enable parliament to force ministers to seek a delay if there is no deal in place, we believe that the UK Parliament must make one last-minute effort to find common ground on the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard Brexit.
The European Union has a strategy which, if embraced decisively by its Member States and European civil society, would enable it to embark on an upward economic, social, environmental and institutional course. This strategy is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is based on the EU Treaty itself.
I have been following closely the latest developments and I fully support the swift entry into force and full implementation of the Prespa Agreement between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the change of name of the latter into Republic of North Macedonia. I hope that the resolution of this long-standing issue, which is an example of reconciliation for Europe, will pave the way for the opening of the EU accession negotiations with this Western Balkans country in June 2019, as foreseen by the Council Conclusions adopted in June 2018.
I welcome the much-awaited reflection paper of the European Commission "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030". I wish to congratulate First Vice-President Timmermans and Vice-President Katainen for this result. Now there is another window of opportunity to further push the sustainable development agenda, which must become the EU's top priority for the next decade. Let us be clear though: this is only the beginning of the road towards an ambitious and successful implementation of the sustainable agenda.
As we prepare to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we can hardly remain composed in our mourning. Rather than observe silence as the deepest mourning is solitary, we feel like shouting. Why is anti-Semitism not dead, not in Europe and not even in the United States? Why in France last year was a Holocaust survivor stabbed and burned to death in her apartment? Why the year before was a retired kindergarten teacher, Sarah Halimi, murdered and subsequently thrown from her Paris balcony?
I am saddened by the violent death of Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, the symbolic city of Solidarnosc, during a public charity event on Sunday. Adamowicz was a political lawyer who served as Mayor for over 20 years. His relentless work to build bridges between communities made him popular and respected in all circles. His ability to bring people together and find agreeable solutions for all was his strength. He will be remembered as the righteous man who helped build democracy, in Poland, and in Europe.
Culture and the arts are key drivers for the future of Europe. I am therefore pleased to propose a short publication on culture and civil society, summarising the rEUnaissance – A cultural vision for Europe on Culture panel, which took place on 31 October 2019, during the EESC plenary session. Download the publication here.