MFF: the good, the bad and the ugly

"The Grassroots View" podcast opens its second season with an episode dedicated to the new European Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Our four guests tell us what is the good, the bad and the ugly in this long-awaited agreement.

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We applaud the courage and solidarity of Europe's civil society

Dear readers,

On 15 February we held the award ceremony for the laureates of our Civil Solidarity Prize, launched in July 2020 just as Europe was healing its wounds from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was shortly after the end of the first lockdowns, which had left us confined to our homes, watching media reports on heart-breaking scenes from Europe's hospitals and clapping for medical workers every evening.

But reports about acts of solidarity soon started pouring in from all over the EU, showing that many were not just sitting idly by, but running to help – be it to the most vulnerable among us, to those most affected by the crisis or in any other way needed.

Diary Dates

1 - 5 March 2021, Brussels
Civil Society Days 2021

18 - 19 March 2021, Brussels
Your Europe, Your Say! 2021

24 - 25 March 2021, Brussels
EESC plenary session

One question to...

One question to…

In our section "One question to…" we ask EESC members to respond to a topical question that seems to us to be particularly relevant.


The impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chain

EESC info: Restaurants and bars have been closed during the pandemic. How does this situation affect food producers, suppliers, restaurant owners, the culture of food and food consumption? What is the best way to get people back to work?

Peter Schmidt, President NAT section: Food producers, the food processing industry and food retailers are under pressure even in normal times. Everyone expects an adequate food supply of the highest quality around the clock.

Guess who is our guest..

Surprise guest

Each month we will be introducing a surprise guest – a public figure who will give us their take on current affairs and bring us a breath of fresh air to broaden our horizons, inspire us and raise our awareness of today's world. For this February’s edition, we are delighted to welcome two personalities from different spheres — culture and the media — who can help us better understand what is happening around us and give us some inspiration. Hélène Theunissen, a stalwart of Belgian theatre and cinema, and Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, expert in and observer of European politics.

Hélène Theunissen: "Artists who cannot create feel empty"

Artists are part of the collateral damage caused by the pandemic. Theatres are closed, though some have temporarily opened here and there. A great many actors, directors, musicians, dancers and performers in the entertainment sector find themselves without work in these unexpected circumstances. The main consequences are fear for the future and an enormous sense of frustration.
Artists who cannot create feel empty and useless.

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde: the danger of Europe becoming undemocratic due to COVID-19

The measures taken by several European countries in the name of Health could result in a collateral victim: the rule of law.

The appearance of COVID-19 in February-March 2020 may have caught us all by surprise and required improvised and urgent measures, but this is no longer the case today. Drastic measures to contain this health crisis may be justified. But they must be better anticipated and, above all, more closely monitored in a democratic way. This has not been the case to date.


The time has come to deliver and give the word "community" new meaning

On 27 January, Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa presented the priorities of his country's presidency of the EU at the EESC plenary. Portugal has pushed the social agenda to the top of its presidency's programme and asked the EESC to provide its expertise on seven key topics for the EU's future.

EESC stands by European Commission in fight for Europe's recovery from COVID-19

The EESC presidency, with its focus on building an economically, socially and environmentally stronger EU, backs the Commission's efforts to get Europe back on its feet after the COVID-19 crisis.

This is the message that EESC President Christa Schweng delivered to European Commission Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič , who was attending the Committee's January plenary session.

Zero tolerance for harassment with the EESC's new Code of Conduct

More clarity, greater financial transparency, strict rules on harassment and stronger sanctions for non-compliance. On 28 January 2021, the members of the EESC voted for major changes to their Code of Conduct. This is the first milestone in the reform of the Committee that the new EESC leadership is undertaking.

EU to closely monitor implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

For the first time since the signing of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, Michel Barnier, Head of the European Commission Task Force for Relations with the UK, expressed his views on the text publicly during a debate at the European Economic and Social Committee's January plenary session.

Poverty in the EU could be halved by 2030, the EESC hears

The number of people living in poverty could be cut by 50% over the next decade, said UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights at the EESC's January plenary session, revealing the findings of his mission to the EU institutions.

New Migration Pact: "The devil is in the detail"

On 27 January, the EESC held a debate with Commissioner Johansson at its plenary session just before adopting its opinion on A New Pact on Migration and Asylum. In the opinion, the Committee voiced reservations as to whether the Pact would help develop a common European framework for migration management that would be both effective and in line with the EU's values.

Access to environmental justice is critical to implementing the EU Green Deal

A recent EESC report welcomes the Commission's proposal to revise the EU Aarhus Regulation and improve access to administrative and judicial review in environmental matters for individuals and NGOs, but stresses that the revamped regulation does not go far enough.

EU climate goals: only a holistic approach can turn challenges into opportunities

2030  40% increases to 55%

The EESC reaffirms that reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 is the right choice. However, in its opinion Stepping up Europe's Climate Ambition, the EESC stresses the need to step up efforts on intermediate targets to speed up the process, or risk missing the goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

EESC's Industrial Change Commission begins new term and adopts 2021 work programme

On 13 January, the European Economic and Social Committee's Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) held the inaugural meeting of its new term of office and adopted its 2021 work programme.

Time for a more prosperity-oriented form of economic governance

The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the Commission's recommendations on the economic policy of the euro area. It strongly supports the NextGenerationEU package and calls for the necessary agreements to be concluded as soon as possible.

The EU needs a real strategy for energy system integration

The EESC has backed the European Commission's call for energy system integration. In the future, electricity, heating and transport should all be interconnected, with the ultimate goal of improving efficiency and achieving a climate-neutral economy

Hydrogen can be a key driver of a new, post-COVID-19 model of society

The European Union must overcome the COVID-19 crisis by building a new model of society based on greener, fairer and more resilient economies. As a clean energy, hydrogen can be a key driver of the transformation. This is the main idea behind an opinion by Pierre Jean Coulon adopted at the EESC's January plenary session.

News from the Groups

Brexit deal: Business will need an adjustment period

Statement by the EESC Employers’ Group President, Stefano Mallia

EU employers welcome the Brexit deal and warmly congratulate the European Commission negotiating team, masterfully led by Michel Barnier.  As businesses try to make sense of the 1 200-page trade treaty, however, they call for a period of adjustment to help them on their steep learning curve.

There will be no recovery without a social recovery

Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Social Summit in Porto

By the EESC Workers' Group

A webinar held by the EESC Workers' Group in January stressed the need for a new social contract to emerge from the forthcoming Porto Social Summit.

Diversity Europe Group conference to address the impact of COVID-19 on organised civil society

By the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

On 12 March, the Diversity Europe Group will host a hybrid conference on Civil Society Organisations during and after COVID-19: what challenges and what future. The event will see the launch of the EESC study The response of civil society organisations to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent restrictive measures adopted in Europe, as well as topical debates with high-level speakers and civil society representatives.

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

Civil Society Days 2021: A Sustainable Recovery for the Future of Europe's Citizens

What should a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 look like for Europe? What are the key strengths the EU should draw on to ensure a bright future for its citizens? These will be the questions at the heart of the EESC's Civil Society Days 2021, taking place online from 1 to 5 March.

EESC to hold a social media debate on the role of systemic change in climate action

On 20 March, the EESC will hold a social media event bringing together young experts, activists and lobbyists from across Europe to discuss systemic change in climate action.

Culture goes live in the first EESC Art Talk of the year

On Monday 25 January, the European Economic and Social Committee held its first online Art Talk for a virtual launch of the online exhibition "Hand in Hand" by Maria Reis Rocha.