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The future of democracy in Europe

Dear readers,

For years Europe's territory was laid waste by war. Every European city has some blood-stained historical vestige of conflict or civil unrest. We are now living through the longest period without war on the territory of the European Union. In the very places that were once torn apart we now have interregional and international bodies working to facilitate the smooth operation of the architecture that we call the EU. This is highly symbolic, of course, but symbolism is not enough.

Diary Dates

20/02/2018 - 21/02/2018 Brussels
Delivering on the Circular Economy – What's Next? Circular economy stakeholder conference
01/03/2018 - 02/03/2018 Athens
EESC conference on The future of democracy in Europe
06/03/2018 - 07/03/2018 Brussels
4th Migration Forum
14/03/2018 - 15/03/2018 Brussels
EESC's plenary session
15/03/2018 - 16/03/2018 Brussels
Your Europe, Your Say!

In short

What place is there for culture in Europe's future? European teenagers prepare to tell Brussels

Over a five-week period, members of the European Economic and Social Committee will visit the selected schools in their countries to prepare the students for "Your Europe, Your Say" (YEYS), the youth assembly which will take place in Brussels on 15-16 March 2018.

EESC President Georges Dassis meets ESEC President Patrick Bernasconi

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Georges Dassis, and the President of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC), Patrick Bernasconi, met in Brussels on 17 January to present an initial assessment of the enhanced cooperation between the institutions they head and to explore possibilities for further joint activities.

President Dassis takes part in European Parliament's Silver Rose Awards ceremony

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), George Dassis, took part on 23 January in the 15th Silver Rose Awards ceremony, held at the European Parliament by SOLIDAR in cooperation with the Socialists and Democrats Group in the EP and the Party of European Socialists. 

The EU's human rights civil society organisations report more difficulties in their work

On Friday 19 January the EESC, in partnership with its Liaison Group, hosted the launch of a report prepared by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which warns of a shrinking space for civil society action to fight for the respect of human rights in the EU.


EESC consults civil society on cybersecurity

The EESC urges the EU and its Member States to adopt a European-level cybersecurity model, to strengthen the mandate of the European cybersecurity agency and, lastly, to establish an effective European certification scheme for online services and products.

The EESC calls on the Commission to specify the proposed reporting criteria on cross-border tax arrangements

Tax justice

The Commission must set out more precise hallmarks for the proposed reporting obligations on cross-border tax arrangements and transactions, in order to prevent subjective interpretation by taxpayers and tax authorities, which could lead to over-reporting and administrative burdens, the EESC urges in its opinion on disincentives to tax avoidance or evasion.

EESC hosts launch of Commission toolkit advising Member States on EU funding for migrant integration

In January, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the European Commission jointly organised the launch of the Commission's new toolkit to help Member States strengthen the integration of people with migrant backgrounds by making more efficient and coordinated use of available EU funding instruments.

The countries of the Western Balkans need a clear roadmap for accession to the EU

This was the main message from the public hearing on the economic and social cohesion and European integration of the Western Balkans, held by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.

"We are very pleased that the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU has chosen the Western Balkans to be one of their priorities and has asked the EESC to draft an opinion on the subject", said Ionut Sibian, president of the EESC's study group on the Economic and social cohesion and European integration of the Western Balkans. Andrej Zorko, rapporteur for the EESC's opinion, pointed out that the region was extremely complex and that there was a need for greater regional cooperation and more serious involvement of civil society in the European integration process. 

"Made in Europe" must be on equal footing with competitors on European market

While protectionism is not an option for Europe, neither can the EU allow its internal market to be flooded by products that fly in the face of its social and environmental standards and jeopardise its industry, warned the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in a report on a comprehensive industrial policy for the EU adopted at its January plenary.

EESC urges to swiftly adopt the Commission proposal on safeguarding competition in air transport

The EESC backs the European Commission's proposal on the long-awaited revision of the regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport. In an opinion adopted at the EESC January plenary session, the Committee urges the European Parliament and the Council to promptly approve the revised regulation in order to effectively address distortions in international competition.

The EESC stands firmly behind the priorities of the first Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU

"The success of the Presidency does not depend on the size of the country – it is driven by the political will to push for policies that are crucial for the future of Europe", said EESC President Georges Dassis in his welcome speech to the Bulgarian Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Policy, Zornitsa Roussinova, at the EESC plenary session in January.

EESC calls for financial insurance to compensate cyberfraud victims

Improving legal cooperation between Member States on combating cyberfraud is a step in the right direction, said the EESC in a recent opinion assessing the Commission's draft directive on Combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment. However, the EESC calls for more safeguards to protect users of digital means of payment and mandatory prevention measures to alert them to cybercriminals' ways of operating.

Fiscal policy contribution essential to continuing the euro area's economic recovery in 2018

Doz Orrit, ECO 444

The EESC disagrees with the Commission's proposal for a broadly neutral fiscal stance, advocating a moderate positive fiscal stance of around 0.5% of GDP instead. According to its opinion on Euro area economic policy 2018, the budgetary effort should be borne mainly by countries with current account surpluses and fiscal space.

Driving and rest time periods, working time and posting of workers

The EESC opinion on "Driving and rest time periods, working time and posting of workers" was adopted at the 531st plenary session on 18 January 2018 with 173 votes in favour, 89 against and 17 abstentions. Rapporteur was Tanja Buzek of the Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN). (mp)

News from the Groups

Social rights and road safety

By the EESC Workers' Group

At its January plenary session, the EESC adopted an opinion on the important role of transport as a key sector of the EU economy. This opinion addresses fundamental questions such as rest times and the posting of workers. The EESC stresses that the amendments to the legislation proposed in the mobility package do not effectively resolve the problems identified in several respects and, in the opinion of the Workers' Group, do not guarantee success in tackling social dumping in the road transport sector. Moreover, in order to ensure better enforcement of cross-border rules, the EESC calls for the establishment of a European Road Transport Agency.

EESC divided on posting of workers in transport. Employers' Group against the EESC opinion

By  the EESC's Employers' Group

The Employers' Group did not support the EESC Opinion on driving and rest time periods, working time and the posting of workers. For the Group, the opinion did not sufficiently reflect differences in views at the Committee concerning the Commission's proposal on the posting of workers

Civil society in the EU: future scenarios for 2030 - extraordinary meeting of the Various Interests Group

By the EESC's Various Interests Group

Following the second day of the February plenary session, Group III will host its extraordinary meeting on "Civil society in the EU: future scenarios for 2030" at the EESC (JDE62).