TGV2/E7: European Year of Youth 2022: climate action is where youth empowerment should begin

As the European Year of Youth 2022 begins, we ask three leaders what they want most from this year. For all of them, a seat for young people at the table where adults take decisions that will make or break the climate would be the real measure of success. Adélaïde Charlier, one of the leaders of the School Strike for Climate movement, has no doubt: the European Year of Youth must not fail in this, while EESC Vice-President Cillian Lohan and European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius pay tribute to European youth for their eye-opening protests which have shot this burning issue to the top of the EU agenda. (dm)

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Finding the energy together to reach for optimism and hope

Firstly, I would like to express my sadness at the unexpected passing of the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli. In May 2020 President Sassoli reflected that the pandemic had shown us that we have a "great resource" within the EU – "that great resource is its civil society". He will be sadly missed.

It is now two years since we first heard of Covid-19. Following those early reports of a virus that had the potential to become a global pandemic, I am sure we did not expect to still be preoccupied by it in 2022.

We welcome the New Year and once again we try to find the energy to reach for optimism and hope.

The motto of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU seems apt: recovery, strength, a sense of belonging. Outlining the three axes of the Presidency, President Macron presented his thoughts on a more sovereign Europe, a European model of growth and a Humanist Europe.

Diary Dates

Straight to the point!

In our column "Straight to the point", we ask EESC members about important EU opinions that have an impact on everyday life in the EU.

This time we give the floor to Stefan Back, rapporteur for the opinion on the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) including maritime  transport and Market Stability Reserve.

Stefan Back: Challenges and opportunities of the revised ETS

The EESC sees the Emissions Trading System proposal as one of the key proposals of the Fit for 55 package with its overarching goal of lowering CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030. In order to achieve this, the ETS system has been made more ambitious and the number of available allowances has been reduced. The ETS proposal emphasises that all sectors need to contribute in order to meet the Fit for 55 objectives. Transport emissions have not decreased since 1990 and are therefore prioritised.

Luca Jahier: Tribute to David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, who passed away on 11 January 2022

Today, we have lost a good friend, an excellent journalist, a remarkable politician and a great European. We can truly say that he changed the course of the European Union during the pandemic, keeping the Parliament open and defending the most vulnerable. He did this partly by taking unprecedented initiatives, as when during the first wave he emptied one of the Parliament buildings so that it could be used to care for women and single mothers suffering from COVID-19.

One question to...

One question to….

For our "One question to…" section, we asked EESC member Thierry Libaert to respond to a topical issue that continues to engage the public, namely tackling disinformation.


The fight against disinformation should be a matter of utmost urgency

EESC info: You are the rapporteur for the opinion adopted by the EESC at its December 2021 session on European Commission Guidance on Strengthening the Code of Practice on Disinformation. How much of a threat is disinformation to democracy and what should civil society do, and what tools should it use, to prevent the propagation of fake news?

Guess who is our guest...

The Surprise Guest

Every month in our column The Surprise Guest we introduce a public figure whose work and commitment are seen by others as a source of inspiration.

In January, our surprise guests are Maria Demertzis, deputy director of the European think-tank Bruegel, which specialises in economics, established in Brussels in 2005, and Jean-Dominique Giuliani, president of the Robert Schuman Foundation in Paris. The foundation, created in 1991 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, works towards European integration. They described the issues and challenges the French Presidency of the Council of the EU is facing at a pivotal moment in Europe's development.

Maria Demertzis: New model for growth in Europe

With the start of the new year, France has assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. An overall ambitious presidency from the outset, it has at its core an agenda to explore a new model for growth for the European Union. This is absolutely essential in an era of transformative change.

While the main ingredients for growth - education and skills, entrepreneurship and finance - and a well-functioning state with solid institutions will always be needed, convincing and sustained growth will require a three-fold change of tack.

Jean-Dominique Giuliani: 2022 : An opportune time for an active revival

The European Union is making progress with every crisis. Faced with the virus, it was able to take action on both the health and economic fronts. Not for a very long time has the spirit of cooperation between Member States produced tangible results so quickly. The vaccines are there and are also being exported to other countries that need them. The massive support for the economy is having an effect and is prompting a rethink of the Union's economic governance. The European Central Bank has once again demonstrated its role as Europeans' shield and protector by making it possible to replenish financial circuits under pressure.


Turning recovery into success: the EESC underlines the key role of organised civil society

The EESC and the European Commission need to work together for a Europe that overcomes the pandemic and consolidates the recovery – a Europe that is prosperous, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. This was the main message addressed by EESC President Christa Schweng to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič at the EESC's December plenary session.

European Year of Youth 2022: Focus on the results, not the hype

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has welcomed the declaration of 2022 as the European Year of Youth but has warned it should go beyond mere promotional activities and should contribute towards the EU's youth strategy with clear plans and engagement. The initiative must reach the most vulnerable young people and those in disadvantaged areas.

EU fight against disinformation must target propagators and protect fundamental rights

In a recent opinion, the EESC calls for more to be done to target the people and organisations that are at the source of disinformation, prioritising prevention rather than cure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the threat posed by disinformation into sharp focus. Against this backdrop, following a critical assessment the European Commission published guidance in May 2021 aimed at strengthening the EU's Code of Practice on Disinformation to create a safer, more trustworthy online space.

EESC asks the European Commission to be more ambitious in efforts to steer the EU economy and finance towards sustainability

At its December plenary, the European Economic and Social Committee held a debate with European Commissioner McGuinness on how to achieve a greener, more sustainable and more digitalised European economic and financial system.

Volunteering deserves wider recognition in the EU

The European Economic and Social Committee has called upon the EU and the Member States to offer systematic and thoughtful support to volunteering. By doing so, it would acknowledge volunteering's immense impact on Europe's social development and its crucial role in implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and fostering social inclusion.

National recovery plans: a chance to curb youth unemployment

With COVID-19, youth unemployment soared in many Member States, pushing up the number of young people who neither work nor are in school or in training (NEETs). In a recent own initiative opinion, the European Economic and Social Committee argues that national recovery plans (NRPs) represent a unique chance to reverse this trend and secure decent work for all young Europeans.

EESC sees EU-US partnership as anchor for democracy, peace and security

With China and Russia on the offensive, a renewed and reliable transatlantic partnership is the key to maintaining international and legal order and peace. The EESC supports the idea of an Alliance of Democracies, ensuring that civil society has a significant say in the joint defence of universal values and rights.

EESC adopts opinion on anti-money laundering legislative package

The European Commission has submitted its new 2021 legislative package on anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) to the co-legislators and the European Economic and Social Committee.

Green transition not a scientific rhetoric but a question of survival

The Conference on the geopolitics of the Green Deal, held by the EESC together with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on 6 December 2021, highlighted the wide-ranging geopolitical implications of the Green Deal, both for Europe and the world as a whole. The EESC is ready to play its part in this process, ensuring clear civil society ownership of the European Green Deal (EGD).

EU-facilitated dialogue remains key for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia

The 51st Western Balkans Follow-up Committee meeting placed conflict resolution and normalisation of relations between Kosovo* and Serbia in the spotlight. The meeting, presided by Ionuţ Sibian, hosted prominent speakers from the ranks of EU officials, Western Balkans experts, as well as civil society representatives from the local communities, all of whom agreed that EU-facilitated dialogue was the only way to move forward.

Fit for 55 climate policies must ensure balance between fairness, emission reductions and competitiveness

The European Economic and Social Committee has called for a series of measures to ensure everyone is consulted on and benefits from the European Commission’s Fit for 55 proposals, which put the EU on track to cut carbon emissions by 55 % by 2030.

The EU recovery plan must contribute to a just transition for EU resource and energy-intensive industries

The European Economic and Social Committee adopted an own-initiative opinion on how resources and energy-intensive industries (REIIs) can take advantage of the EU recovery plan for a socially acceptable transition towards de-carbonisation and digitalisation. The EESC encourages the Commission and the other EU institutions to guarantee a level playing-field within the single market, in order to avoid unbalanced advantages to industry depending on each Member State's approach.

The activities of the EESC during the French presidency of the European Union

A new brochure presents the main activities activities and initiatives to be undertaken by the EESC to support the efforts of the incoming French presidency.

The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union comes at a decisive moment, when the European Union is facing several health, social, economic and environmental challenges.

News from the Groups

Setting out a New Vision for the Future of Europe

By the EESC Employers' Group

Europe’s future is closely linked to the future of its industry: strong ambitions require strong and innovative companies that have the means to meet the needs of the digital and green transitions while boosting EU competitiveness. 

End the deadlock to the COVID vaccine patents

By the EESC Workers' Group

As Europeans recover from the Christmas break, a wave of COVID cases sweeps the continent: the new omicron variant has increased infections exponentially worldwide. However, thanks to the build-up of immunity and previous vaccinations, as well as the natural evolution of the virus towards less lethal and aggressive variants, the extremely high numbers have come with a lower share of severe diseases, hospitalisations and deaths.

EESC study reveals mismatch between zeal for volunteering and actual opportunities

By the EESC Diversity Europe Group

People in all European Member States are willing to volunteer, confirms a recent EESC study on New trends in the development of volunteering in the European Union. However, although there is plenty of zeal for volunteering, actual volunteering rates vary across Member States, largely due to varying levels of tradition and infrastructure.

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

99 students come together to fight fake news

Over the coming months, students from secondary schools across Europe will get ready to brainstorm together on how to fight disinformation in Europe. In March, they will select the most popular ideas to present to EU leaders.

Delivery riders are modern cowboys: a photo exhibition

The EESC is hosting a virtual exhibition of photographs by French photographer Frédéric Stucin, staging food deliverers as a distinctive feature of today's city life and a new form of employment that often eludes European health and safety provisions for workers.