The Grassroots view - Episode 4: The long and winding road to accessibility

With the new EU disability agenda in the pipeline, in episode 4, the long and winding road to accessibility, we discuss the employment situation of people with disabilities. We talk about what the EU should do to make its workplaces more inclusive – not only in the physical world but also in the collective mind-set of a society that almost inevitably fails to see the person other than through their disability.

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Not a battle of numbers, but a battle of visions

Dear readers,

In the last EU summit in February, leaders were expected to make substantial progress towards reaching an agreement on the long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework. But they failed to come to a compromise because of deep divisions.

If no agreement is reached, we risk yet another paralysis, which we cannot afford in the current geopolitical situation.

The urgent priorities awaiting the EU and the risk of post-Brexit talks cannot drag on as they will absorb energy for other priorities: the migration package, the Green deal, the digital transition, the environmental transition, to quote just a few.

Diary Dates

29-30 April 2020, Brussels

EESC plenary session

Please note that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are  unable to schedule events until 29 March 2020.

In short

The EU should get tough on fake news

Regulating social media, developing media literacy and supporting independent quality journalism - these are some of the main prerequisites for combating disinformation and safeguarding EU democracy, says the EESC.

EESC members visit Japan to talk trade and sustainable development

Members of the European Economic and Social Committee's EU-Japan Follow-up Committee visited Japan to discuss the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and to strengthen cooperation with Japanese counterparts. The visit included a roundtable on the circular economy and the first EU-Japan Joint Dialogue with civil society under the EPA.


ECI Day 2020: activists call for "meaningful" public involvement in Conference on Future of Europe

Looking back to their past experiences as organisers of European Citizens' Initiatives (ECIs), activists attending the ECI Day 2020 on 25 February warned against asking people what Europe they want and then ignoring their input.The disappointments incurred by the first generation of ECI organisers, who went through the intricate process of initiating an ECI, collecting and validating one million signatures, then to be told that no action would follow, have taken a heavy toll, activists said.

The European Parliament must insist on a strong EU budget for 2021-2027

The EESC has forcefully reiterated its call for a Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of 1.3% of EU-27 gross national income for the period 2021-2027. This call comes at a crucial moment on the path to an agreement on the EU's next long-term budget, with the European Council still trying to establish its position.

EESC promoting Europe's green future

The EESC will support the Commission's drive to match aspirations with actions in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and to put sustainability at the heart of our individual and collective responsibility. At the plenary session held in Brussels on 20 February 2020, EESC president Luca Jahier backed this year's European Commission work programme and its focus on sustainable development for a greener Europe.

Disability strategy for the next decade: EU should lead the way in promoting progressive policies

The European Economic and Social Committee held a high-level conference at which it brought together leading actors in disability policy to discuss the EU's new strategy in the field, a strategy which is in the making and is expected to have a profound effect on millions of EU citizens with disabilities in all spheres of life over the next decade.

EESC and ILO intensify efforts to shape the future of work tailored to our values

The European Economic and Social Committee held a debate on 20 February with the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the future of work and the European Pillar of Social Rights, with the purpose of exploring further avenues for cooperation and stepping up efforts to make the rapidly changing world of work fair, decent and inclusive for the generations to come.

Advocators of EU rules for a transparent food chain address EESC plenary

At its latest plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee welcomed the instigators of the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) "Eat Original. Unmask Your Food", which is calling on the European Commission to impose mandatory origin labelling for all food products in order to prevent fraud and guarantee consumers' right to information.

EESC ready to team up with European Commission on new pact on migration and asylum

A new agreement on migration is urgently needed at European level and, to this end, the EESC is ready to support the Commission's ongoing efforts. The EESC president, Luca Jahier, speaking in Brussels on 3 March 2020, made it clear that migration was a priority for the EESC, as demonstrated by the fact that the Committee had been very active in this area for many years.

EESC adopts position on economic priorities for 2020

In February, the EESC adopted its opinions on the European Commission's Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020 (ECO/502) and on its recommendations for the economic policy of the Euro area (ECO/503). The opinions represent its contribution to the debate on the economic priorities for the year ahead and beyond, which will be formally adopted by the European Council in March.

Europe's sustainable future depends on accessibility of raw materials for batteries

The European Union needs to secure permanent access to raw materials as soon as possible in order to develop a strong battery industry for electric vehicles. The alarm was sounded on this issue at a debate held in Brussels on 5 February 2020 by the EESC Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN).

A Silver Deal for Europe: EU and Member States should ensure quality long-term care

An EESC report finds the situation in the live-in care sector in Europe to be unsustainable, with working conditions of carers bordering on sheer exploitation and care recipients struggling to find affordable and quality care. This state of affairs has emerged due to a lack of state support for the care industry and is a product of political neglect.

News from the Groups

Business for Climate Neutral Europe – Making the most of the SDGs and the Green Deal

By the EESC Employers' Group

A growing number of European companies have already changed their mind-sets and, over and above the strictly business aspects, are now taking environmental and social aspects into consideration as well in their daily operations. To make the transition to a green economy a success, the EU needs to provide a level playing field for its companies, boosting competitiveness and investment.

The new EU Budget: A union that strives for less?

By the EESC Workers' Group

The ongoing Coronavirus threat and the refugee crisis, with the latest developments of this human drama now unfolding on the border between Turkey and Greece, have shown yet again how urgent it is to have a common European response to issues far beyond the capabilities of individual Member States. The European institutions need, now more than ever, not only to agree on EU-wide measures and strategies, but more fundamentally to back those initiatives with resources.

Civic society: the backbone of European values

By the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

The EESC's Diversity Europe Group is organising a conference in Rijeka, Croatia, to discuss the role of civil engagement in tackling some of the major issues facing Europe today. In recent years, the EU has been facing challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss, increased migration and shrinking space for civil society, which are potentially undermining its fundamental values in new ways.

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

Singing a different tune: women in Europe's musical culture

To mark this year's International Women's Day on 8 March, the EESC is staging an exhibition entitled Female Notes which pays tribute to Europe's musical women.

The exhibition explores the social identity of female musicians from the sixteenth century to the present day through a series of biographical panels, honouring hundreds of female composers and musicians across Europe while also tracing the evolution of musical culture.

The exhibition is being held in collaboration with Women's Toponymy, an Italian association which was awarded the EESC's 2019 Civil Society Prize for fighting gender disparities by naming places after notable women. (ck)