"It is not an easy task to deal with digitalisation in a way that all the layers of the society reap an equal benefit," underlined in his opening speech the President of the European Economic and Social Committee Luca Jahier. "Precisely therefore we, at the European Economic and Social Committee, promote the idea of ‘digital justice’ - we want that no-one is left behind from the digital revolution."
We are here today in Krakow, to try to talk freely about our history, our cultures and our expectations for the future of the European Union. I hope these exchanges, along with other points on our rich agenda in Poland, will inspire us for the discussions on the EESC role in the Future of Europe debate which we will have in the afternoon. We have planned our stay in Krakow in a way to be able to gain a different perspective on the European debate, to enrich it with a Central European flavour.
Congratulations to Vice-President Jyrki Katainen for the new Commission's proposal on the InvestEU Programme adopted today. This much-needed instrument builds on the Juncker Plan, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and efficiently addresses the issue of social investments.
When we talk about inequality, we should remind ourselves that a good slice of Europe's economy is making profits for people other than investors or owners. Cooperatives, mutual societies, non-profit associations, foundations are part of this very vibrant community that makes the social economy.
The EU and China share common views in many areas. The ever-increasing interdependence in this globally connected world that will put demands on us in terms of closer cooperation to face common challenges. Especially in the area of trade and investment, firstly, we must ensure that growth is sustainable, inclusive, and benefits all. We must take measures to make sure we operate sounds and stable financial systems, and commonly and strongly continue to defend the multilateral, open and rules-based trading system we have so carefully built over the last 50 or more years. In this context, the EU’s and China’s active and constructive engagement is paramount to ensuring that the WTO remains the core of the open trading system.
The responses to the multiple crises that the European Union has been confronted with have increasingly led European citizens to become disenchanted not only with the European Union itself but also with democratic institutions in general – both at the European and national level. There is a serious risk of EU citizens no longer seeing the added value of the EU for their living and working conditions as well as for their future perspectives and those of their children and for losing a common sense of belonging.
Anniversaries are a time for celebration. For togetherness and joy. A moment to pause, to look back and take stock of achievements which will drive our future. We are here to dare the future of Europe.
The EESC, our 'House of European civil society', took part in this campaign, the aim of which is to bring together proposals from European citizens concerning the future of Europe. We can be proud of having inaugurated this new format – the citizens' consultation on Europe – based on our experience as the voice of civil society in Europe.
This new culture of dialogue should be developed for a number of key areas that also form the main priorities of my mandate, namely: sustainable development, culture, peace and youth.
The subject of Culture is close to my heart– it is one of the four priorities of my presidency alongside peace, sustainable development and youth. These are the pillars of the new European Renaissance we must urgently strive for. Culture is not only a driver of economic growth and social cohesion, it has been one of the drivers of European identity for many centuries.