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Luca Jahier: Europe - that's us!

Dear Readers,

The time is fast approaching when all our attention will turn to the results of the European elections.

26 May will be a crucial moment for Europe. Essential! That is the word to describe people's votes, including those of young people who will have understood that their future is at stake and who do not want someone else to decide for them what the future of Europe will be. Will turnout exceed the 42% registered in 2014? If so, it will mean that we will have understood what is at stake: the vitality of the European venture and its continuing power to attract.


Diary Dates

In short

European Citizens' Initiative Day opens a new chapter in EU citizen participation

"The Commission has the moral obligation to react to ECIs", said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans

Christophe Lefevre, EESC member and president of the ECI ad-hoc group, opened the 8th European Citizens' Initiative Day on 2 April.

"We are all migrants"

On 2 April, EESC President Luca Jahier, accompanied by EESC Members Isabel Cano, Stefano Mallia and Cristian Pirvulescu, visited the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp - a symbolic place for European migration. Two million passengers travelled from Antwerp, the Red Star Line's main European port, to North America on board its ships.

EESC and French Economic, Social and Environmental Council together for broad participation in the European elections

Plenary session March 2019 - day 22 - bilateral meeting - presidents Jahier and Bernasconi

"We must reinvent Europe with enthusiasm and projects that are close to the people", said Presidents Patrick Bernasconi and Luca Jahier at the EESC March plenary session.


Millions of citizens with disabilities will not be able to cast their ballots in European elections

Some 800 000 EU citizens suffering from mental health problems or who have an intellectual disability will be deprived of their right to vote on account of national rules that are in force in 16 Member States. On top of this, millions of voters will be deterred by technical barriers at polling stations that do not take into account the needs resulting from their various types of disability, the EESC said in a report.

"Still a lot to do to ensure that citizens with disabilities in Europe are able to vote"

EESC Info interviewed EESC member Krzysztof Pater, to hear the story behind his report Real rights of persons with disabilities to vote in EP elections.

EESC puts forward blueprint for Future of Europe

The EU must get closer to its citizens and become the global leader in sustainable development, argues the EESC in a bold opinion on the future of the EU. The Committee calls for a new EU strategy which takes a holistic and cross-sectoral approach centred around Europeans' needs and sustainability and it puts forward policy recommendations covering eleven priorities. A new overarching strategy to implement the 2030 Agenda must be backed up by an ambitious EU budget.

EESC calls for action to uphold democracy amid alarming reports from EU civil society

The European Economic and Social Committee has taken a strong stance against increasing attempts to undermine the functioning of Europe's democratic civil society organisations and is calling on the EU to use every tool enshrined in the EU Treaty against Member States which succumb to authoritarianism.

EESC plenary hosts promoters of European Citizens' Initiative "Stop Extremism"

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomed Sebastian Reimer and Michael Laubsch, two of the initiators and promoters of the "Stop Extremism" European Citizens' Initiative, which has gathered around 1.6 million signatures, to be validated by the Member States.

The EESC proposes a plan to make EU the peace-building leader both in Europe and globally

In its March plenary the EESC adopted session an opinion outlining an EU-led global peace-building strategy which includes the creation of the WhiteDoveWay, a path of peace from Northern Ireland to Nicosia, to promote dialogue, reconciliation and conflict prevention. 

EU needs to define clear strategy on EU-Asia connectivity

At its March plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion on the Joint Communication Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy, issued by the European Commission and the EU High Representative in September 2018. The EESC considers it to be a seriously missed opportunity, with many significant strategic gaps, little ambition and no real depth of vision as to the development of EU relations and connectivity with Asia.  

Endocrine disruptors: harmonised legislation will protect European citizens more effectively

Endocrine disruptors are substances of particular concern, and so coherent and harmonised EU legislation must tackle the ways in which they are used. The EESC calls for a consistent and holistic strategy that is based on scientific knowledge and includes an action plan with clear targets and deadlines.

EESC backs EU action plan on disinformation

The EESC threw its support behind the action plan on disinformation presented by the Commission and the EU High Representative. In an opinion by Ulrich Samm and Giulia Barbucci adopted at the March plenary session, the EESC points out that disinformation can be defined as verifiably false or misleading information that is created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, causing public harm and threatening democracy.

Cohesion policy must be integral part of new strategy for EU

The EU urgently needs a new, ambitious and clear strategy for its future in line with the UN 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and other international commitments. Cohesion policy must be an integral part of it. This new strategy would also provide a vision for future cohesion policy itself. New provisions for cohesion policy post-2020 must provide for sufficient resources and guarantee improved policy efficiency and visibility, urges the EESC in an exploratory opinion on the future of cohesion policy.

Europe's Circular Economy "network of networks" rises to challenge of circular transition

More than 350 circular economy stakeholders from across Europe shared their success stories and the challenges they face during the second day of the Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee on 7 March 2019.

European Consumer Day 2019 focuses on European consumer policy for Europe's new generations

Is consumer policy geared towards young people? How can we support them in making sustainable choices? How can we translate new trends into consumer policies? A lively debate held in Brussels on 27 March addressed these questions. A room full of students, consumer associations, business and representatives of the e-sector tackled issues ranging from improving mobility and avoiding food waste to making fast fashion sustainable and understanding the role of ICTs in driving change.

EU should act to strengthen single currency's international role

Prerequisites for fully developing the potential of the euro as an international currency include sound macro-economic policies in the EU, deepening the EMU and completing the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union (CMU). However, what is needed above all is mutual trust and a shared vision among the Member States on the future of the EU economy. These are the main conclusions from a hearing on Strengthening the international role of the euro,recently held by the EESC.

European Migration Forum makes ten recommendations for improving EU migration policy

On 3 and 4 April, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Commission held this year's European Migration Forum (EMF), which explored the role of civil society and local authorities in managing migration and ensuring safe and regular pathways to the EU.

News from the Groups

European Employers call for an open, united and strong EU

By the EESC's Employers' Group

Less than two months before the European elections, the Employers' Group calls for an open, united and strong EU. Business representatives are committed to working for a strong and prosperous EU. The strength of the EU lies in its attractiveness. To further benefit from this "European way of life", we need a competitive business environment. These are just some of the main messages emerging from the Political Declaration that the Employers' Group has recently adopted.

Workers look into how best to fight social dumping while making most of mobility

by the EESC Workers' Group

The EESC Workers' Group hosted Professor Roberto Pedersini from the University of Milan, who presented his study How to design the European Labour Authority (ELA) to fight more efficiently social and wage dumping. Oliver Röpke, President of the Workers' Group, emphasised the important role social partners, and especially trade unions, have in ensuring the implementation of labour legislation.

Diversity Europe Group discusses civil society's role in upholding Europe's shared values

By the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

On 7 May the EESC’s Diversity Europe Group will hold its next extraordinary meeting in Bucharest. This high level conference will take place in the Atrium of the National Library, and its topic will be A Europe of Shared Values and Civil Society. 

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

EESC Open Day 2019

The 9 May is Europe Day and, following an established tradition, the EU institutions will open their doors to the public on the first Saturday of the month, this year on 4 May. The theme will be the European elections of 23-26 May, which will call European citizens to the polls to choose their representatives for five crucial years.

Sorin Onisor's Romanian landscapes on display at the EESC

The EESC will host the photography exhibition Romanian landscapes of my heart featuring the work of renowned Romanian photographer Sorin Onisor.