The Grassroots View - Episode 6: Shoring up businesses in the COVID-19 crisis

In this episode, Belgian hotel owner and industry representative Marc Van Muylders illustrates the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hotel sector, while Milena Angelova, EESC vice-president with responsibility for budget matters and secretary-general of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), explains how the EESC is making its expertise available to businesses grappling with the crisis across Europe. Amandine Crespy, professor of political science at the Free University of Brussels and visiting professor at the European College in Bruges, outlines the EU's broader plans to help European businesses weather the storm.

Dessine - moi...

Our "Dessine - moi... (Draw me...)" section is full of testimonials from members who have accepted our invitation to share the thoughts and reflections that inspire them during this period when time seems to be standing still. We would like to thank Christa Schweng, Anne Demelenne, Baiba Miltovica, Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, Georgios Dassis and Cillian Lohan for giving our readers this unique chance to dive into the world of their stories.

All these articles are available by clicking on the following link:

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Life has been difficult since lockdown started. Time is suspended, and we are shut in and apart. We tell friends, family and colleagues to stay safe and keep healthy. Our lives are fragile. The pandemic can strike at any moment. This is a global challenge which needs a global response.

Diary Dates

10 - 11 June 2020, Brussels

EESC plenary session

Dessine - moi...

Gonçalo Lobo Xavier: I'll never again miss an opportunity to give someone a hug

The unimaginable has happened. Suddenly everything has changed and nothing seems to be the way it was. We are living in exceptional circumstances and we have to be resilient so that we can respond appropriately and come back strongly.

Anne Demelenne: Pandemic demonstrates our system's fragility

My husband and I have very calmly spent the lockdown at home. My husband is part of the high-risk group and we have taken every precaution.

Cillian Lohan: The essential is invisible to the eye

I sit in my farmhouse by the sea. I have a good internet connection despite my rural isolated location. Each morning I feel lucky to be able to walk along the coastline, looking out to sea, knowing the next piece of land across the Atlantic is New York, almost 5000 kilometers away. I feel the great privilege of my comfort.

Christa Schweng: My personal corona lessons

When on 13 March – a Friday, by the way - our government decided to lock down the country as of Monday the 16th, the whole atmosphere in Vienna changed: walking around the usual places those last days felt strange, as everybody was looking at other people suspiciously.

Georges Dassis: No matter how strong we are, we cannot deal with future threats alone

When I returned from Brussels on 11 March 2020, I had no idea I was going to experience a truly extraordinary situation.

It started with a strong recommendation from EODY (the Greek national public health organisation): anyone returning from abroad should self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Baiba Miltovica: Consumers face to the COVID-19

The coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges the European Union has ever faced. The spread of the virus will further hit the EU Member States' economies resulting in major threats not only for businesses and employment but also for consumers. This has prompted governments to implement exceptional measures to protect people.

Watch the EESC video statement on COVID-19

Together, we represent civil society at European Union level. The lockdown cannot prevent us from working actively to make sure that the voice of organised civil society is heard. United we stay strong as we endeavour to take back control over our lives. We will do whatever it takes. The outbreak of the coronavirus will have serious consequences for our society. No government can possibly envisage solving such a crisis alone.


EESC celebrates Europe Day online

It was a remote Europe Day this year at the European Economic and Social Committee. Like all the other European institutions, the EESC was forced by the COVID-19 outbreak to forgo its traditional open day on 9 May and instead offer a number of inspiring online activities.

EESC President Luca Jahier calls for a Health Union

A fully fledged Health Union must become a key priority for the future. In the first ever EESC webinar on 24 April 2020, Committee president Luca Jahier said that the time was ripe for a new step forward in European integration. The EU had to deliver a common response in the health sector to the current coronavirus crisis, capitalising on what had been done over the past few weeks and moving ahead with a clear vision.

EESC coronavirus webinars: The EU and Africa – A joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic

On 29 April, the EESC organised a webinar to look into the state of play of EU-Africa relations, considered as one of the Commission’s main priorities for the years ahead and now threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants agreed that consolidation of supply chains and an agreement to ease the external debt burden of African countries were key issues.

EESC President Luca Jahier says we must make Europe safe again

Making Europe safe must be priority number one for the future of the EU after the COVID-19 pandemic. In a joint webinar with the Italian National Council for Economics and Labour (CNEL) on 15 May 2020, EESC President Luca Jahier called for a common EU health policy.

EU must fight against depopulation with strong family and employment policies

With its share in the global population at an all-time low and another baby boom unlikely, Europe will need to take a holistic approach if it is to reverse its demographic decline, stimulating employment and embracing strong economic and social policies that can restore its citizens' confidence in the future.

EESC asks for 2020 Employment Guidelines to be adapted in the face of Covid-19 pandemic

The EESC has welcomed the Commission's proposal on revised employment guidelines for Member States, but asked for the guidelines to be adapted to take account of the looming employment and social crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and to help cushion its adverse effects on Europe's labour markets.

Lifelong learning needs more substantial public funding

EU Member States should increase public investment in lifelong learning, with a special focus on the education of adults, and should allocate more funds for learning in non-formal and informal settings, in which learners can develop softer skills, such as critical thinking and teamwork, or character traits, such as leadership and curiosity.  

Climate refugees account for more than a half of all migrants but enjoy little protection

Up to three times as many people are being displaced annually due to natural disasters as due to armed conflicts or other forms of violence, and much of what is now international migration started out as weather-related internal displacement.

A CAP transitional regulation is urgently needed to provide certainty in the agri world

The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a transitional regulation to support Europe's farmers, which will ensure a smooth transition from the current to the next CAP period. However, the budget-planning period for the current CAP ends on 31 December 2020 and the amount of Union support or national ceilings for the following year has not been included. Urgent measures must therefore be taken to provide certainty and continuity in the granting of support to Europe's farmers.

Good luck, Jasmin!

Jasmin Klötzing, after three years spent working in the Press Unit, has joined the Diversity Europe Group. We wish her the best of luck and lots of opportunities to tell great stories!

Warmest regards,

Members of the Press Unit

News from the Groups

Help businesses survive the corona crisis!

By the EESC Employers' Group

To limit the economic and social damage caused by the COVID-19 crisis, we need a series of measures - first to cope with the emergency stage, and then to move on to recovery and rebuilding. The most urgent step now is to save businesses and jobs.

EESC Workers' Group Webinar - #RebuildEU

By the EESC Workers' Group

"The social agenda should be at the heart of a post Covid-19 reconstruction plan in Europe. We must focus on deep reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and establishing a Golden Rule that gives countries room for investment in social infrastructure", said the President of the Workers' Group, Oliver Röpke.

One more crisis for a final wake-up call! The very last one?

By the Diversity Europe Group

Alain Coheur

Financial, economic, social, food, migration, security and environmental crises ... and finally ... the health crisis.