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The home of EU organised civil society is more important than ever

Dear readers,

May is traditionally the month when we take stock of the progress made in European integration and at the same time look to the future.

On Sunday 9 May, as every year, we celebrated Europe with a special day full of activities. For the second year in a row, we held a completely virtual version of our institution's Open Day, showcasing the EESC's invaluable contribution to the EU decision-making process and explaining why, especially in these difficult and challenging times, civil society organisations play a key and unique role in the EU.

Diary Dates

3-4 June 2021, Brussels

ECI Day 2021

10 June, Brussels

EESC event: the Conference on the Future of Europe

7- 8 July 2021, Brussels

EESC plenary session

13 July, Brussels

Industrial strategy: The role of critical raw materials to form a strong industrial base

One question to...

One question to….

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

For the May/June edition, we asked Laurenţiu Plosceanu, president of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship, to comment on the social issues discussed at the Porto Social Summit, particularly in the context of the EESC's work in the coming years.

EESC info question: On 7 and 8 May, heads of state or government and social partners attended the Social Summit in Porto, hailed as a potentially historic moment for Europe's commitment to social rights. The goal was to provide a strong political impetus for the European Pillar of Social Rights and the implementation of its Action Plan, aimed at boosting employment and ensuring equal opportunities and social protection for all. With regard to the outcomes of this summit and the social issues discussed there, what tasks do you see as most important for the EESC in the coming years?

Laurenţiu Plosceanu: "There is no social dimension without a solid economic foundation"

In a way, we have all became prisoners during these "polypandemic" times – prisoners of our fragility, our fears, our hopes…

After all, the coronavirus has sparked multiple pandemics that are not only occurring simultaneously but are also reinforcing each other in their detrimental effects.

From this perspective, the May 2021 Porto Social Summit marks a courageous step forward by the European institutions and European social partners.

Guess who is our guest..

The surprise guest

Every month we present a surprise guest, a well-known person who gives us their point of view on current events: a breath of fresh air to broaden our horizons, inspire us and make us more aware of today's world.

For our June edition, we are pleased to welcome the renowned historian, Norman Davies, who has kindly accepted to be interviewed by EESC info.

Norman Davies: Things that don't hold together will fall apart

"All my life, I have been intrigued by the gap between appearances and reality. Things are never quite as they seem", Norman Davies.

EESC info: Europe is at a turning point, preparing the Conference on the Future of Europe. In the course of the changes that have taken place in parallel with the pandemic crisis, some centrifugal forces have come to light, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, which may challenge European integration. How would you comment on this?

Herman van Rompuy: The old poet speaks gently

We are pleased to continue the publication of the series of haikus, under the common title "The old poet speaks softly", offered to us by their author, Herman van Rompuy, former President of the European Council.

EESC News

EESC launches the Civil Society Prize 2021 on climate action

The EESC will award up to five climate projects that showcase civil society's invaluable contribution to achieving climate neutrality.

The European Economic and Social Committee has opened applications for its 2021 Civil Society Prize.

The EESC at the Porto Social Summit: put people at the heart of all action!

The European Economic and Social Committee  intends to play an active part in joint European efforts to translate the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) into action and to build a fairer, more prosperous Europe for everyone.

How to seize a long-awaited opportunity

Statement by EESC President Christa Schweng on the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe

On the day of the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe, I encourage citizens to take part in this historic undertaking. I would also like to appeal to policy-makers to ensure that we get the most out of what people have to say.

The Porto Social Summit represents a milestone for Europe

On 28 April, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held an exchange of views with the Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, on the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) and the Porto Social Summit, where the plan was to be discussed at the highest level.

EESC endorses a robust and inclusive EU Health Union

The European Economic and Social Committee  has taken a strong stance in favour of building a European Health Union, calling on the EU and the Member States to respond to Europeans' demands that it make health a priority.

A New Narrative for Europe - The EESC resolution on the Conference on the Future of Europe

At its April plenary session, the EESC adopted a resolution on the Conference on the Future of Europe, in which it calls for "a new narrative grounded in the realities of everyday life", to reconnect and engage with European citizens. For this to happen, organised civil society must be involved and must be given a major role to play.

"Part of the solution": EESC gives thumbs-up to proposed EU regulations to rein in big tech

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) proposed by the European Commission to curtail the ever growing power of digital giants in Europe are fit for purpose, in the EESC's view, provided they go hand and hand with the taxation of tech companies, better working conditions for platform workers and data governance.

The new EU cybersecurity strategy is a step forward

The European Economic and Social Committee has welcomed the proposed new package of EU cybersecurity measures but pointed to weaknesses in addressing Europe's huge cyber skills gap. Critical entities also need streamlining, simplification and clearer application guidelines, in the EESC's view.

The success of the new EU Roma framework lies in the hands of the Member States

Having learnt from the shortcomings of the previous EU Roma framework over the past decade, the European Commission is determined to achieve the headline targets of the new Roma strategic framework, closing the gap of discrimination and socio-economic exclusion by at least half by 2030. However, the role of the Member States in delivering tangible results is pivotal. Without effective national strategies and pragmatic measures, the new framework risks failing in the same manner as its predecessor. 

#EuropeDay 2021, EESC makes a difference now more than ever

It was online Europe Day this year at the EESC, the home of EU organised civil society! Hosting a range of activities on its website, the Committee celebrated the European Union and the 71st anniversary of the Schuman Declaration – the starting point for European integration – by showcasing the key and unique role played in Europe by civil society organisations in these times, from their involvement in the recovery to their vital work in dealing with our day-to-day challenges.

EESC backs initiatives to reduce pesticide risks, but stresses need to find alternative cost-effective solutions

The EU has some of the most stringent regulations in the world when it comes to using plant protection products (PPPs or pesticides) in agriculture. Much more can be done, however, to improve regulatory convergence to reduce the risks of using PPPs and to guarantee a healthy and safe food supply for an ever-growing world population.

EESC calls for the swift, uniform and secure implementation of the EU COVID-19 certificate

With one of the EU's fundamental values frozen for over a year, the EU COVID-19 certificate, instead of the "Digital Green Certificate" proposed by the Commission, paves the way for free and safe movement within Europe.

The EU as a global player after the pandemic – the way forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slowdown in the activity of many economic sectors and, at the same time, is giving rise to a significant shift in the global balance of power. In this context, the EU is looking for an appropriate strategy to strengthen its role as a global economic player, with policies aimed at boosting the international role of the euro, strengthening the resilience of EU financial market infrastructures and improving the implementation of sanctions imposed on third countries.

A Europe-wide legal framework to protect the rights of LGBITQ persons

All across Europe, LGBTIQ individuals suffer from discrimination which affects their educational performance, job prospects, well-being and even the exercise of their fundamental rights, such as the freedom of movement within the EU.

EU mobility must be sustainable and smart

The future of EU transport must be sustainable, social and smart: this is the challenge facing a sector which has undergone profound changes in recent years, as well as having been hit hard by the COVID‑19 pandemic. At the plenary debate on the Commission's new transport strategy, held on 28 April 2021, EESC president Christa Schweng pointed out that Europe needed a vision for a post-COVID-19 Europe; in transport, that vision would comprise sustainable, smart and resilient mobility.

Territorial development of rural areas: the CAP alone cannot make it happen

traffic sign: urban - to the right, rural - dead end

We need to stop the gaps between rural and urban areas from growing further and better coordinate policies so as to bridge them. The new CAP alone will not be sufficient to rebalance these interrelated areas. For Europe to truly tackle inequalities, we need to mobilise a wider set of policies and funding instruments.

News from the Groups

EU recovery plans must address gaps that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed

By the EESC Employers' Group

The European Commission unveiled its much-awaited Industrial strategy review this month. But, more than strategies, what companies need is swift action to help Europe regain its competitiveness and growth.

Workers' Voice Category: The political momentum for stronger workers' participation rights is now

By the EESC Workers' Group

"The political momentum to push for stronger workers' participation rights is now", said Workers' Group president Oliver Röpke, referring to citizens' calls for more democracy in the Conference on the future of Europe and the political leaders' commitment at the Porto Social Summit to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.

An opportunity to put civil society in the driving seat

By Séamus Boland, President of the Diversity Europe Group

The Conference on the Future of Europe provides opportunities for citizens and for civil society organisations to be heard and to shape the future. It also offers opportunities to bring about sustainable and people-centred change.

New Publications

New brochure: Respect and dignity at the EESC

The EESC has published a new brochure on "Respect and dignity at the EESC" that can be found here.

The brochure provides information about the revised Code of Conduct adopted in January and gives practical advice on respectful and ethical behaviour at the EESC, how to avoid situations of harassment and whom to contact if necessary, including the Ethical Committee.

This publication demonstrates that the EESC remains strongly committed to high ethical principles, integrity and modern, transparent working methods. (mwj)