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Our time is now!

Dear readers,

This year's Europe Day on 9 May will also mark the launch of the long-awaited Conference on the Future of Europe. This is a unique opportunity not only to engage in a broad debate on how the EU should evolve, but also to bring the ownership of the European project back to its citizens – at national, regional and local level. I would like to encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

Diary Dates

7 May 2021, Porto

Social Summit

9 May 2021

Europe Day 2021 and official inauguration of the Conference on the Future of Europe

9-10 June 2021, Brussels

EESC plenary session

One question to ...

One question to….

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

For the April edition we asked Pietro Francesco De Lotto, president of the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) to share his views on the industrial transformation and Green Deal rules
with EESC info readers.


"Ensuring the green and digital transition increases resilience, competitiveness and social justice"

EESC info question: how and by when can the transformation to a greener, more circular and more digital industry be achieved, reaching the objectives of the European Commission's Green Deal? What role do raw materials play in this process?

Pietro Francesco De Lotto, CCMI president: whether we are talking about a fourth, fifth, or even sixth industrial revolution, we often see public debate emerge. Despite the different views on the issue, the sure thing is that we are undergoing a profound revolution in our industry which comprises a twin challenge: that of becoming greener and more circular as well as a digital transformation. It is a revolution that is driven by several factors: public opinion, consumer sensitivity, pursuit of global competitiveness and a need to adapt labour to new models, etc.

Guess who is our guest..

The surprise guest

Each month we have been introducing a surprise guest - a public figure that gives us their take on current affairs, bringing a breath of fresh air to broaden our horizons, inspires us and makes us look closely at the world around us. For this April edition, we are pleased to welcome Aurélie Vauthrin-Ledent, actress, writer and director, who tells us about her quest to save culture, which is so essential to our lives.

"Most importantly, yes, culture is essential!"

Since I was born 40 years ago, on 28 March 1981, never has the word "essential" been so often linked to the word "culture" than during this health crisis and the ensuing economic downturn. It is obvious that we are experiencing a paradigm shift. We are and will face serious challenges, in all areas of our society.

The old poet speaks gently

We are pleased to present a new selection of haikus by Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, as part of our series "The old poet speaks gently".

The haikus were originally written in French.


"Member States are working hard, but there is still a lot to do before national plans are ready."

In a debate at the EESC plenary session on 25 March, European Commission Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis, said that most of the national recovery and resilience plans (RRPs) were still at an early stage and that "there is still a lot to do before the plans are mature enough". He also noted that trade policy has a key role to play in getting the EU economy back on track.

#YEYS2021: Europe's young generation takes up the climate challenge

High school students from all over Europe handed concrete proposals for climate action to the European Commission's Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans - the outcome of a virtual Youth Climate Summit organised by the European Economic and Social Committee on 18-19 March 2021.

Change the system if you want to stop climate change, the EESC hears

On 20 March the EESC hosted a virtual side event in conjunction with Your Europe, Your Say! (YEYS) on Designing Systemic Change, bringing several experts, activists and influencers together to share their knowledge and expertise on climate action through the lens of systemic change.

The EESC's central role is fully recognised by the Conference on the Future of Europe

The European Economic and Social Committee has been called on to join the key body of the conference that is to chart the course of the EU's future development.

EESC delves into the challenges of teleworking

The first COVID-19 lockdowns saw the number of remote workers in the EU workforce skyrocket from 5% to 40%. A year later, with teleworking here to stay, it is still difficult to deliver a proper assessment of its impact on employers, employees and society as a whole. The EESC points to the need for more research and for a long-term perspective, with a view to harnessing the benefits and mitigating the risks of this form of work.

It is high time to scale up European action on disability policies

On 24 March, the  EESC hosted a debate with the EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, on the new Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities, recently launched by the European Commission.

EU rail transport - European Year of Rail 2021 is the right time for change

Railway transport still needs to make political, regulatory and cultural progress, although 25 years of liberalisation have gone a long way towards opening up markets and achieving technical harmonisation. This is the main message of an opinion on a Single European Railway area adopted at the EESC March plenary.

Energy transition – The EU needs speed change

The pace of transformation towards the Energy Union needs to step up significantly if we are to meet the 2050 EU energy and climate objectives, but overlooking the social and economic situation in individual Member States could be dangerous, argues the EESC in a recent opinion.

The Commission's new strategy for tackling non-performing loans is not fit for COVID-19 times

The EESC welcomes the Commission's new Action Plan on non-performing loans, but believes that it lacks new proposals fit for the age of COVID-19, leaving Europe to face an extraordinary time with rules written for ordinary times.

EESC proposes measures to support investment in the extraction and recycling of critical raw materials

At its March plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion which proposes to support investment in the exploration and extraction of critical raw materials and the use of secondary materials from waste, as this is essential to the green transition in the EU.

The EESC calls for more precise and harmonised conditions for a more sustainable life cycle for batteries in the EU

At its March plenary session, the EESC adopted an opinion which proposes more precise and operational governance arrangements and instruments to implement the new battery regulation with the involvement of all stakeholders. In the EESC's view, this could contribute to developing a Union framework covering the entire battery life cycle in the EU.

European Research Area: the EESC hails its overhaul as a real New Deal for Europe's R&I

With the new blueprint, the European Commission shows it is determined to stop Europe from losing out to the US and Asia in both basic and applied research, patents and high-tech products and services, says the EESC in a report adopted at the March plenary.

The future of Europe will depend on how we deal with rural areas

Rural areas should be made more attractive for young people and businesses. This would improve the quality of life of all Europeans, allowing them to choose where they want to live and work. This was one of the key conclusions from the debate entitled Towards a holistic strategy on sustainable rural and urban development, held at the EESC on 8 March.

It is high time the Union of Equality was made a reality

Accurate data collection and appropriate policies by the Member States are necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the EU anti-racism action plan and to unmask racism and ethnic discrimination, which have taken a turn for the worse during the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.

The Western Balkans – The missing piece of the European puzzle

At its March plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee hosted a debate with Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, to discuss the state of play of the accession of the Western Balkan partners. EESC members voiced the conviction that integrating the Western Balkan partners into the EU is a geostrategic investment in peace and economic growth.

Discover what the EESC can do for you – NEW EDITION

The new edition of this publication provides a concise and up-to-date presentation of the European Economic and Social Committee as a unique forum for consultation, dialogue and consensus-building between representatives from all the different sectors of organised civil society, including employers, trade unions and groups such as professional and community associations, youth organisations, women's groups, consumers, environmental campaigners and many more.

Hasta luego, hombre!

David Gippini Fournier is leaving on 1 May 2021.

"A press officer with a touch of Galician irony"

I spent a great deal of time working with David Gippini, in particular, we worked on a number of press interviews together. When I met him in 2018, he struck me as a serious person. His contributions were always appropriate and very well thought out. He was a very quick thinker.

News from the Groups

A sustainable economic recovery is the only way to strengthen our Social Europe

By the EESC Employers' Group

Ahead of the Social Summit in Porto next month, members of the Employers' Group met with Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights. During a frank and open debate, the Employers' Group president, Mr Mallia, stressed the need for a fast economic recovery, which is only possible if we ensure that our companies have the right business environment to be competitive, create jobs and consequently guarantee wellbeing for our societies.


Adequate minimum wages are a key component of social cohesion

By the EESC Workers' Group

Adequate minimum wages are a key component of social cohesion and combatting in-work poverty and inequality. However, many in Europe work under very harsh conditions, particularly precarious workers. And while in some countries collective bargaining is strong enough to ensure good working conditions, that is not the case everywhere.

Civil society organisations must be the drivers of change in post COVID-19 societies and economies

By the EESC Diversity Europe Group

At a recent conference of the Diversity Europe Group, civil society representatives urged their organisations to tell politicians what type of society they want to create and live in.

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

Europe Day 2021

The EESC traditionally celebrates Europe Day by opening its doors to the public. This year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, citizens from across Europe and the world are invited to discover the House of Civil Society in a safe and virtual way.