Galia Ackerman,
Writer, journalist and historian, French translator of Anna Politkovskaya's work

Galia Ackerman is an essayist and historian. She has a PhD in History (Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University) and is an associate researcher at the University of Caen. She is considered to be one of the best French experts on post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine. The ideology of Putin's Russia is a key part of her research topics. Since May 2021, she has headed up a digital media organisation in French and English: Desk Russie. She is author or co-author of numerous publications: Tchernobyl, retour sur un désastre (2007); «Ukraine, une terra incognita en Europe», La Règle du jeu, nº 57 (mai 2015); Traverser Tchernobyl (2016, 2022); La Seconde guerre mondiale dans le discours politique russe (2016); Le régiment immortel — La guerre sacrée de Poutine (2019, 2022); La force de vivre (2020); Tchernobyl – Vivre, Penser, Figurer (2021); «Lumière sur l’Ukraine», La Règle du Jeu, nº 77 (October 2022); Le Livre noir de Vladimir Poutine (2022). ©Photo: Claire Moliterni

Leila Bičakčić,
Director at Centre for Investigative Reporting, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Leila Bičakčić is one of the founding members of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN), based in Sarajevo. CIN specialises in reporting on corruption, finding a nexus between the political elite and organised crime groups, and monitoring the use of public funds and of politicians' assets. Its stories led to the indictment against a former prime minister, the dismissal of an international judge and an indictment in a major corruption case in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which resulted in a binding court decision. CIN has won a number of national and international awards for its work, including the Daniel Pearl Award and the Shining Star Award. Most recently, CIN's story on vote buying was shortlisted for the European Press Prize as Europe's best story on corruption in 2021. Leila's responsibilities include overall management, investigative project planning, analysis and strategic development. A special focus of her work is research into new models of sustainable media organisation and new business models in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the transition from traditional media to new digital models and the convergence of media content. A Sarajevo native, Leila studied basic physics and economics at the University of Sarajevo.

Séamus Boland,
President of the EESC Civil Society Organisations' Group

Séamus Boland has been the President of the EESC's Civil Society Organisations' Group since October 2020. His policy and political interests include the eradication of poverty, social exclusion and inequality. In addition to the Group presidency, he holds several other roles outside the EESC. He has been CEO of Irish Rural Link since 2001, a Board Member of Inland Fisheries Ireland since 2018 and Chair of Peatlands Council since 2012. Mr Boland is a farmer and has worked in civil society for over 40 years, including with young people, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and people living in rural isolation. From 2007 to 2013, he was a member of the first Press Council of Ireland. He is a trained Speech and Drama Educator.

Adnan Ćerimagić,
Senior Analyst for the Western Balkans, European Stability Initative

Adnan Ćerimagić (Bosnia and Herzegovina) is European Stability Initiative's (ESI) Senior Analyst for the Western Balkans and is researching EU policy on the region. Before joining ESI in August 2013, Adnan worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and Brussels. He also did a traineeship in the Secretariat of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, and worked for the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (ETC) in Graz. He studied law at the University of Graz and EU international relations and diplomacy at the College of Europe in Bruges. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Institute for Peace in Vienna and the International Advisory Board of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy. Adnan is based in Berlin.

Andrea Čović Vidović,
Head of Media, European Commission Representation in Croatia

Andrea Čović Vidović is an expert in EU affairs, diplomacy, communication, management and mentorship. She is Head of Media at the European Commission in Croatia and led Public Relations at the European Parliament in Croatia for nine years before that. After working on Croatia's EU membership negotiations, she managed EU sectors at the Croatian Ministries of Finance and Labour and Pension System. She holds a Master’s degree in Contemporary Languages (University of Zagreb) and in European Studies (University of Sussex). She did her PhD research in Comparative Politics at the University of Zagreb and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Relations.

Marika Djolai,
Senior Researcher, expert, team leader

Marika Djolai (PhD, University of Sussex) is the team leader/key expert on the European Commission's Global Exchange on Religion in Society project. Previously, she was senior researcher and head of the Conflict and Security cluster at the European Centre for Minority Issues. Marika holds master's degrees from the University of Novi Sad and University College London, and received her doctorate in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. She is a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG). Her academic research focuses on community dynamics, post-conflict development, minority rights and securitisation. Her policy work is oriented towards the EU accession of the Western Balkans countries, bilateral dispute resolution, religion, and civil society.

Ivana Dragičević,
Editor-at-large and reporter for N1 television/CNN exclusive news channel affiliate

Ivana Dragičević is editor-at-large at N1 Television, an exclusive CNN affiliate for the Adria-Balkan region, where she was previously executive producer of news programmes and executive editor of international news. She began her career at Croatian public TV broadcaster HRT where she held several positions, including foreign affairs correspondent and chief correspondent in Belgrade. A multiple award-winning reporter, her work has focused on European and international affairs for more than twenty-five years. She has received three annual awards as best TV journalist from the Croatian Journalists' Association (1999, 2001, 2013) and an award from HRT for best TV reporting (2010). She has interviewed a number of global public figures, from Bashar al-Assad to Jens Stoltenberg, from Amin Maalouf to Bob Geldof. Ms Dragičević is also Europe’s Futures fellow at Vienna's Institute for Human Sciences (IWM)

Christine Dugoin-Clément,
Geo-political analyst, associate researcher, "standards and risks" chair, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Christine Dugoin-Clément is associate researcher at the "Risks" chair of the IAE Business School Paris 1 and at the AI observatory of the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. A former auditor at the French Institute of Advanced Studies in National Defence, she has been studying Ukraine for 10 years. Based on field observations, her PhD focused on decision-making in extreme situations under the effect of informational strategies, particularly on influence and informational warfare. Simultaneously, she works on IT and defence topics in the light of strategy. She is the author of Influence and manipulation, from modern military conflicts to modern economic wars.

Dušan Gajić,
Brussels correspondent for Serbian television and author of award-winning documentaries (The Graduates, The Promise, The Long Road through Balkan History)

Dušan Gajić is a journalist, documentary author and founder of the production company SEETV. Dušan is also a European correspondent for Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) and a co-founder of the production group Mreža in Belgrade. Documentary films by Dušan Gajić include the award-winning The Graduates (2021), The Promise (2016), The Long Road through Balkan History (2010), Kosovo Diary (2008), Greetings from Kosovo (2006) and Attention: Culture! (2007). Since 2004, Dušan has been closely following and reporting on all major issues related to Balkans/Serbia-EU relations as a Brussels correspondent. (In 2004-2005 for RTV B92 and from 2006 for RTS.) He graduated in Yugoslav and World Literature from the University of Belgrade in 1998.

Régis Genté,
Journalist, co-author of the book Volodymyr Zelensky: in the mind of a hero

Régis Genté is a freelance journalist and an expert on the former USSR. Based in Tbilisi, Georgia, since 2008, he covers Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia for several French media outlets including RFI, France24 TV and Le Figaro. He has also authored or co-authored several books, including the recent Volodymyr Zelensky, dans la tête d’un héros (Volodymyr Zelensky, in the mind of a hero), 2022; Futbol, le ballon rond de Staline à Poutine (Football from Stalin to Putin), 2018; Poutine et le Caucase (Putin and the Caucasus), 2014 and Voyage au pays des Abkhazes (A journey to the land of the Abkhazians), 2012. In addition, Mr Genté contributes to think tanks such as the French Institute for International Relations, the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Foundation for Strategic Research; and works as a business intelligence consultant specialising in political and geopolitical analysis, reputation and due diligence.

Igor Grozdanić,
Energy expert, researcher, energy sector and strategic projects director at Croatian company Turbomehanika d.d.

Igor Grozdanić is an energy expert, energy economist and energy policy analyst. Educated in Germany, he holds MSc degrees in both electrotechnics and macroeconomics, as well as a BSc in Electrical Technology.  His area of work includes green energy transition, renewables and energy geopolitics. His interests focus on the role of gas in energy transition and a low-carbon economy, integration of renewable energy sources, energy poverty and decarbonisation. He has worked as a consultant on different energy, environmental and low-energy projects run by the Council of Europe, World Bank and energy companies. He advocates for a common energy and climate strategy and firmly believes that energy poverty has to be urgently eliminated. He is the author and co-author of 30 scientific and expert papers in the area of energy and the energy economy, published in Croatia and abroad. In 2002, he won the Hrvoje Požar award for a dissertation in the field of energy. Igor is the executive director for energy and strategic projects at the Croatian company Turbomehanika d.o.o.

Alexander Kleinig,
EESC Director for Communication and Interinstitutional Relations

Alexander Kleinig is the EESC's Director for Communication and Interinstitutional Relations. Mr Kleinig is Austrian and previously worked at the European Parliament, first in legislative work and then in communication. In 2005, he was appointed project manager to set up a European Parliament Visitors' Centre in Brussels, which has grown to be the largest parliamentary Visitors' Centre in Europe, attracting 350 000 visitors per year and winning 16 different design and communication awards. He then became Head of the Concept and Design unit, where he developed several Europe-wide communication campaigns, including part of the 2019 European election campaign ("thistimeImvoting"). Mr Kleinig joined the EESC in 2022 and has a master's degree in economics from the University of Vienna. 

Zion Lights,
Science Communicator, author and climate activist, former Extinction Rebellion spokesperson

Zion Lights is a British science communicator known for her work in environmental advocacy and journalism. She is founder of the evidence-based climate activism group Emergency Reactor and a former spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion. Zion founded and edited Extinction Rebellion's print climate reporting newspaper, The Hourglass, which at its height reached a distribution of 180 000 copies. Zion speaks regularly at events around the world on the need for evidence-based climate solutions and an end to energy poverty, as well as the importance of science. Much of her work now involves busting myths around clean energy sources, particularly nuclear energy. She is also author of The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting. Zion is active on Twitter (@ziontree) and her website is www.zionlights.co.uk.

Cillian Lohan,
EESC Vice-President for Communication

Cillian Lohan was elected Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee in October 2020, and has been an active member of the institution since 2015. He is a leader in the field of the Circular Economy and was the inaugural chair of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, which he helped to establish. Cillian has extensive experience as a delegate to the UN, working on initiatives such as the COP climate negotiations and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. As CEO of the Green Economy Foundation, he has overseen ambitious projects, including the planting of over one million trees in Ireland and the establishment of a wildlife reserve in Tobago. Cillian graduated from University College Cork and the University of Ulster with a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Science.

Mila Moralić,
Editor and reporter at N1 television/ CNN exclusive news channel affiliate

Mila Moralić is an editor and reporter at N1 television, a regional news channel and a CNN affiliate. With 20 years of experience in journalism, she has hosted broadcasts and special coverage events, participated in round tables and seminars around the world and taught classes on a wide range of subjects, including democracy and the rule of law, voting, minority rights and pluralism. Ms Moralić holds a master's degree in comparative politics from the University of Zagreb and is a Fulbright scholar, having spent a year as a Hubert H. Humphrey fellow at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in the United States.

Domagoj Novokmet,
Journalist, senior editor and anchor at TV N1/CNN exclusive news channel affiliate

Domagoj Novokmet is a journalist focused on politics and business, and a senior editor and anchor for N1, a leading Croatian news channel and regional CNN affiliate. Before joining N1, he spent more than 20 years at the national public broadcaster HRT, where he headed a number of departments, including the News and Current Affairs programme. He also spent time as acting director-general; during his tenure, in 2012, HRT made a big step forward by launching two new TV channels, HRT3 (culture) and HRT4 (news channel). Mr Novokmet was also an executive committee member at CIRCOM, an association of European public broadcasters. He was a Journalist of the Year nominee in 2019 (HND, a Croatian journalists' association), and in 2020 he won the "Hrvoje Mateljić" award for TV business journalism.

Augustin Palokaj,
Brussels correspondent and columnist for Croatian national daily newspaper Jutarnji list

Augustin Palokaj has been a senior Brussels correspondent and columnist for Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list for more than 22 years. He writes reports, commentaries, columns and interviews about the EU and NATO, particularly on enlargement, foreign affairs and security issues. He has covered major international events like the EU and NATO enlargement and reforms, debates on the new EU treaties and on the EU Constitution. Between 2007 and 2013, he worked for the WAZ Media group, an international multimedia company based in Germany. Many of his articles were published in several German newspapers, as well as in the French weekly Courrier International. He reported on events in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Albanian, Croatian and English language sections of the BBC World Service radio. He covered the war in Croatia and Bosnia and HerzegovinaHis articles were also published in several newspapers and on web sites such as the Croatian daily Večernji list, the Institute for International War and Peace Reporting IWPR, Lobi, Korrieri, Radio Free Europe and WDR. He holds a Master's degree in Journalism.

Jaroslaw Pietras,
Energy specialist, Visiting Fellow at the Wilfried Martens Centre, former Director general in the Council of the EU

Jaroslaw Pietras is currently Visiting Fellow at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels and Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges. From 1990-2006, he served in his native Poland as Secretary of State in the Ministry of Finance, Secretary of State for Europe and Head of the Office of the Committee for European Integration. From 2008-2020, he worked as Director General at the Council of the European Union, covering a broad range of policy areas (climate change, environment, transport, telecom, energy, education, culture, audio-visual, youth and sport). Holder of a PhD in Economics from the University of Warsaw, he is the author of a number of publications on the EU, sustainability and trade issues. He has also been a Fulbright Foundation scholar and a member of the board of think-tank BRUEGEL (2008-2011).

Marin Piletić,
Croatian Minister for Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy

Marin Piletić was born in 1983, in the city of Novska. After completing elementary and high school in his hometown, he graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, where he obtained his university degree in Croatian Language and Literature and History. He began his career as a teacher of the Croatian language in primary schools in Novska and Lipik. In the 2009 Croatian municipal elections, he was elected deputy mayor of Novska, a position he held until 2013. The following year he was elected deputy county prefect for Sisak-Moslavina County and worked in Sisak until 2017, when he ran as a candidate and was elected mayor of Novska, winning a majority of votes in the first round of elections. After being re-elected mayor in the 2021 municipal elections, he became a member of the Croatian Parliament in June 2021. In April 2022, he was appointed Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy. He is married and the father of two children.

Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu,
President of the EESC Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC)

Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu has been President of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship of the European Economic and Social Committee since October 2020. He has been a member of the EESC and its Employers' Group since 2007. Mr Plosceanu is involved in activities across all sections of the EESC, and is currently also the EU Chair of the EU-Serbia Joint Consultative Committee. In 2016, Mr Plosceanu became Vice-president of UGIR, the Romanian Industrialists General Union. Since 2007, he has been President of ARACO – the Romanian Association of Building Contractors. Mr Plosceanu has technical, economic, law and defence qualifications.

Viktoriia Romaniuk,
Deputy editor-in chief of StopFake.org, deputy director of Kyiv's Mohyla School of Journalism

Viktoriia Romaniuk is visiting professor at Madrid's Carlos III University, deputy director of the Kyiv-Mohyla School of Journalism in Ukraine, deputy director of the StopFake project and editor of its Russian service. A media expert, Ms Romaniuk has been a participant and speaker in international conferences on propaganda and media influence organised by the likes of the OSCE and NATO. She is a member of an international scientific group that has been developing a higher education programme for Ukrainians preparing for careers in government communication as part of a U.S. State Department-funded initiative. She is also a member of the working group Learn to Discern, a new educational programme for the development of media literacy.

Oliver Röpke,
President of the EESC Workers' Group

Oliver Röpke has been the president of the EESC Workers' Group since March 2019 and an EESC member since 2009. Currently sitting in the Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) and Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT) sections, he has been rapporteur of several opinions. He has also been a member of the EESC Bureau and president of the Permanent Study Group on Social Economy Enterprises. Mr Röpke has been the head of the Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) since 2008, a member of the federal executive board, ÖGB representative in the ETUC and a member of the Social Dialogue Committee. He holds a degree in law from the University of Vienna.

Christa Schweng,
EESC President

Christa Schweng was elected president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in October 2020. She has been an EESC member for 22 years, working as rapporteur for numerous opinions. She is the outgoing president of the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship and chaired the Labour Market Observatory from 2013 to 2015. Ms Schweng gained deep expertise in social and employment issues working as an advisor both at EU level and in Austria. Outside the EESC, she works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.  She has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work since 1995. She chaired the SMEunited Social Affairs Committee between 2001 and 2009. Christa Schweng holds a Master's degree in Law from the University of Vienna.

Violeta Simeonova Staničić,
Head of the European Parliament Office in Croatia

Violeta Simeonova Staničić has been the Head of the European Parliament Office in Croatia since its opening in 2013, the year when Croatia joined the EU. Previously, she managed the European Parliament Office in Bulgaria, was in charge of communication and media projects in the private and public sectors and worked as a contributing author and commentator for regional and international media, including Time Magazine. She holds a master's degree in political science from Northeastern University in Boston and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Sofia. Upon finishing her studies, she began her career as a reporter from the Bulgarian parliament, at a time of major transitional changes in the country.

Clare Taylor,
Science Communicator, journalist, and policy analyst

Clare Taylor is a science communicator, journalist, and policy analyst whose work centers on communicating ideas and policies for a better world. For the past ten years, she has lived in Brussels, working on media, advocacy and communications for sustainable energy and environment-related topics. Her clients include national governments and public agencies, European institutions, NGOs and industry associations. She is a co-founder of the Global One Health Community and she holds a master’s degree in engineering science from Oxford University. As a former magazine publisher, she enjoys skillful communications, wicked problems and well-plotted thrillers.

Tim Weber, Executive director and head of editorial at Edelman UK, former business and technology editor of BBC Online, expert in Russian disinformation

Tim Weber is Head of Editorial and an executive director at Edelman, the world's largest communications firm. He leads a team of ex-journalists supporting clients by telling their stories with an editorial approach. He is an expert in communications, economics and the technology industry. Before joining Edelman, he was the business and technology editor for the BBC News website, which he helped to launch in 1997. For three years, he also was the BBC's business editor for programmes on three national radio networks. He started his journalistic career with the BBC World Service. He holds a PhD from the Free University Berlin, with a thesis focusing on strategic studies and international relations.