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Let's roll up our sleeves to work out successful recipes for the future of Europe

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to sign this first editorial in my capacity as the newly elected president of the European Economic and Social Committee. As such, I will have the honour of presiding over the EESC's 60th anniversary, which we will be celebrating at our plenary session on 24 May.

When you read these lines, we will be finalising preparations for this landmark event.  While the celebrations will certainly afford an opportunity to go over the key moments in the Committee's history, we have decided from the start that this should be more of a forward, rather than backward-looking exercise.

Diary Dates

4/06/2018 Brussels

3rd European Day of Social Economy Enterprises

18/06/2018 Brussels

EESC stakeholder summit on Artificial Intelligence

11/07/2018 -12/07/2018 Brussels

EESC's plenary session

In short

Open Day, a unique opportunity to discover how the EESC works

The European Economic and Social Committee opened its doors to the public on Saturday, 5 May 2018 to celebrate Europe Day. The EESC presented its activities to the visitors, with a special focus on culture, since 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

Jordan is key partner for stability of EU neighbourhood

A delegation from the European Economic and Social Committee met local civil society representatives and government officials in Amman on 26 and 27 March. The discussions during the visit focused on the difficulties faced by the country due to the lack of stability in the region. The EESC delegation acknowledged the need for international support and detailed measures, as over the past few years the country has developed a comprehensive approach to the massive influx of refugees, mostly fleeing the war in Syria.

EU and Georgian civil society discuss situation of SMEs and food safety in Georgia

The latest meeting of the EU-Georgia Civil Society Platform (CSP) took place in Tbilisi on 22 March. The members of the platform discussed the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and adopted a joint declaration. The CSP welcomed the announcement, made earlier in March, of a possible new format for higher-level bilateral sectoral cooperation between the EU and Georgia and expressed its support for the visa-free regime for shorts stays, which has already benefited a large number of Georgian citizens.

EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform concerned about low-pay trends in Ukraine

The EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform (CSP) urges Kiev to implement more consistent reforms in various sectors and to give absolute priority to the issues of low wages and poverty. These issues were addressed at the 6th CSP meeting in Brussels, where members of the platform discussed how implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was progressing, the role pay levels play in reducing poverty and their impact on labour migration, and climate change.

Serbia and EU should step up efforts to ensure country's accession by 2025 remains feasible

The latest meeting of the EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) took place in Brussels on 12 April. The JCC's members discussed the current state of play and the work ahead in negotiations on Serbia's accession to the EU, and adopted a final declaration. Serbia was recognised as one of the two frontrunner candidates in the Western Balkan region.

Europe's Roma keep facing discrimination and ethnic profiling

Europe's largest minority, numbering more than ten million people, continues to be discriminated against and marginalised in many Member States of the European Union. Human rights NGOs and EU policymakers who gathered at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) warned that, in many cases, police continue to use ethnic profiling against Roma people. A public hearing on "Addressing anti-gypsyism in ethnic profiling practices" took place during the third EU Roma Week, held by the EU institutions in Brussels from 8-12 April. 

EU-Korea Civil Society Forum calls for concrete steps to address gender pay gap and improve labour standards

The Civil Society Forum under the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement held its sixth meeting in Seoul on 11 April, co-chaired by Lee Ho-Geun and Georgi Stoev. In their joint statement, the co-chairs emphasised that the uncertain geopolitical environment posed new challenges for EU-Korea relations. They called for shared values and interests to be promoted in the region and for the partnership between Korea and the EU to be made more relevant to citizens' expectations.

New publications

"Find out what the EESC can do for you"- New edition available

This publication, targeting the general public, provides a succinct presentation of the Committee and its unique role as a forum for consultation, dialogue and consensus between the representatives of organised civil society. The focus is on the EESC's work, members, presidency, the way it operates and its achievements.

Digital publication – The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) – 60 years of commitment

Civil society in action for the Europe of tomorrow!

Established by the Treaties of Rome in 1957, the Committee held its first plenary session 60 years ago, on 19 May 1958. Since then, the Committee's history has been tied in with that of the European integration process, which it has constantly worked to further.


Citizens at heart of debate on future of Europe

For two days, on 5 and 6 May, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), as the representative of civil society, opened its doors for the "European Citizens' Panel", which was attended by more than a hundred people representing the diversity of the 27 Member States, excluding the United Kingdom.

Integration of Western Balkans should remain a top EU priority

EU enlargement, and above all the spread of EU democratic values and legal standards to the Western Balkan region, is in the interests of both the Western Balkan countries and the EU, the European Economic and Social Committee points out in its opinion on the Economic and social cohesion and European integration of the Western Balkans, adopted at its plenary session on 19 April.

Survival of European maritime technology sector depends on firm stance from EU

EESC opinion calls for strong industrial and manufacturing policy based on reciprocity

"The European Commission needs to adopt a strong industrial and manufacturing policy based on reciprocity, otherwise our European maritime technology industry won't survive competition from Asian shipyards," warned Marian Krzaklewski, rapporteur for the EESC opinion on the LeaderSHIP strategy, adopted at its plenary session on 19 April. 

Securing social triple A rating for EU requires political engagement and proper funding

The EESC calls for sufficient funding resources to be put in place for implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. Improvements in the Member States and a robust commitment in terms of budget, investment and current spending are needed to make the Social Pillar a reality.

EESC outlines further measures needed to achieve stable, prosperous and resilient EMU

The EESC is firmly convinced that at this juncture the EMU is still not resilient and stable enough to face future crises effectively. Advocating the completion of EMU, it urges decision-makers to reach broader and swifter political agreement on how to achieve a deep and genuine EMU, which is the final objective.

Foreign direct investment needs screening to protect national security and public order in EU

Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign direct investment is a major source of growth, jobs and innovation and has always been a key factor in supporting economic and social development in the EU. However, it also poses possible risks for national security, and a proper framework for the screening of such investments is needed.

EESC calls for a European Energy Union that involves and benefits all EU citizens

The EESC strongly supports the objectives of the Energy Union and encourages EU society to take full ownership of this project. The Energy Union is not only relevant to sectoral policies such as energy, transport and climate but offers a number of opportunities to make Europe more democratic, cohesive, competitive and just. To this end, an effective energy dialogue with organised civil society at EU, national, regional and local levels is fundamental.

Battle for equal pay may be best won by denouncing stereotypes

The EESC backs the Commission's efforts to reduce the 16.3% gender pay gap in the EU, but is proposing further action including a special emphasis on combating long-established social and cultural stereotypes which determine educational and career choices for women.

Strengthening Europe's energy networks is key for Energy Union

Stronger, interconnected European energy grids are a prerequisite for the European Energy Union. Only if Europe's energy networks are well developed and integrated can the continent's energy systems achieve their purpose: to provide the people of Europe with affordable, secure, sustainable energy in a competitive way.

Quality apprenticeships in Europe: let apprentices have a say

Apprenticeship schemes should be shaped with the active involvement of the people directly concerned – apprentices themselves and their organisations. This is the EESC's main reservation regarding the proposed framework for quality and effective apprenticeships, which the EESC otherwise believes will help raise standards across the EU.

Interests of EU citizens cannot be forgotten when developing new forms of mobility


The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) urges the Commission to be more rigorous in facilitating consumer access to new, cleaner and affordable forms of mobility, and to introduce stronger financial support for public transport.

ECI Day calls for genuine citizen participation

Six years after the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) was introduced, and following repeated constructive criticism and calls for its improvement, particularly from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and other institutions, the European Commission has finally proposed changes to this important tool of participative democracy.

Rethink plastic: behaviour change needs strong legislative framework and viable alternatives

Plastic is becoming one of the main environmental problems in the world. The image of the so-called "Pacific Trash Vortex", also known as Great Pacific Garbage Patch - a plastic island bigger than the whole of Mexico drifting in the ocean as a result of the over-consumption, waste and non-recycling of plastic - has been a wake-up call for many people and has encouraged a rethinking of how we use of plastic. With the situation now becoming urgent, the EU is seeking to transform the way in which plastic products are designed, produced, used and recycled, and to this end adopted a European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy on 16 January 2018.

News from the Groups

EESC plenary commemorates 75th anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

by the EESC's Employers' Group

With a minute of silence, the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – the largest Jewish armed revolt of World War II.

Time to change within Group III

by the Diversity Europe Group

Since 18 April, Arno Metzler has officially been president of Group III for the 2018-2020 term of office.

A lawyer with his own practice in Germany since 1983, he has also represented the German liberal professions at the EESC since 2002. Before becoming Group president, he served as vice-president with responsibility for SMEs, Liberal Professions and the Rules of Procedure.

Work, new forms of work, and working conditions

 by the Workers' Group

Employment numbers are constantly in the headlines. However, what is almost as important as how many people are employed is what conditions they work in. This is particularly relevant in view of the latest labour developments and the increase in non-standard contracts, where ECJ rulings have been necessary to establish that, for instance, Uber drivers are employees, not freelancers.