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We can all make a difference

Dear readers,

September feels like a new year to me. Much more than January. September marks the end of the summer break and a return to routines of work, meetings, travel or school. This year I feel this even more than usual. Vaccination rates are giving us hope that we can again move around our regions and our continent. New cultural norms of behaviour and hygiene practices have combined to give us the possibility of a new beginning.

Diary Dates

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 September edition, we asked Alain Coheur, president of the Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT), to comment on the challenges of the industrial strategy.



"The Green Industrial Strategy as a cornerstone of the European Green Deal"

The new industrial strategy, Updating the New Industrial Strategy for Europe [COM(2021) 350 final], published on 5 May, is undoubtedly one of the key challenges for the EU. The only way for Member States to overcome this crisis is by acting in a coordinated manner, leaving no one behind and restoring companies' capacity to generate added value, invest in a sustainable future and maintain/create quality jobs.

Guess who is our guest..

The surprise guest

Every month we will be introducing a public figure whose work and commitment are seen by others as a source of inspiration.

For the September edition, we have invited Sébastien Maillard, Director of the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris. He shares with us his understanding of what it means to have a sense of "belonging to Europe", which is particularly important at this time of debate on the future of Europe, which will culminate in the French Presidency in the first half of 2022.

Sébastien Maillard: Did you say "belonging"?

“Belonging” is the last of the three keywords announced to signal the French EU Council Presidency, but the one that is raising the most eyebrows. What are we talking about here?


Herman van Rompuy: The old poet speaks gently

We are delighted to host yet another selection of haikus by Herman van Rompuy, former President of the European Council. 
These haikus were originally written in French.



AI: while 18% of the world's top-tier researchers are European only 10% work in Europe

The World Economic Forum's Jayant Narayan flagged up the figure in a debate on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the European Economic and Social Committee's July plenary, saying that to compete Europe needs to invest in medium- to long-term actions to create an ecosystem where AI can thrive.

Frans Timmermans meets European youth leaders at the EESC

Cillian Lohan, Frans Timmermans, Stefan Rahmstorf and Youth representatives

The EESC opinion on structured youth engagement on climate and sustainability in the EU decision-making process proposed the establishment of a Youth Climate and Sustainability Round Table, to be hosted by the EESC in conjunction with the European Commission, European Parliament and youth organisations.

The economy, the environment and people's well-being must go hand in hand in post-COVID EU

Economic prosperity, care for the environment and people's well-being can and must go hand in hand. This was the key message delivered by the EESC president, Christa Schweng, at the debate on A post-COVID economy that works for all - Towards a well-being economy? held at the EESC plenary session on 7 July 2021.

Europe stands to gain from the sound funding of #NextGenerationEU

A well-functioning funding strategy is key when raising the money for the European Union's recovery on international capital markets. In its opinion, drawn up by Judith Vorbach and adopted at the July plenary session, the Committee stresses that the smooth implementation of NextGenerationEU requires sound and sustainable funding, along with solid risk management and low borrowing costs.

Ending poverty for European children needs a whole-society approach

The Commission's latest initiatives on children's rights call on European and national policy-makers to work towards the common good of all children growing up in the EU. The two initiatives are ambitious and bold in their approach to ensuring a life free from any discrimination for each and every child and have won the EESC's approval.

Roaming: the EESC calls for a single tariff zone across the EU

People should enjoy the local rate when using their mobile phones wherever they are in the EU, said the European Economic and Social Committee in an opinion recently adopted on a proposed overhaul of the EU roaming rules.

EESC supports an open, sustainable and assertive EU trade policy

The new trade strategy launched by the Commission brings principles of engagement to the table that will support the EU in achieving its domestic and external policy objectives. Alongside this, the modernisation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be the key to delivering for future generations.

EESC welcomes its first meeting with the Argentinian Economic and Social Council

This first meeting between the Argentinian Economic and Social Council (ESC) and the EESC, organised by the REX section, was led by Christa Schweng, EESC president, and Gustavo Beliz, president of the Argentinian ESC.

The external dimension of migration needs to be anchored in the EU's foreign policy

Building talent partnerships with countries of origin and transit is a key policy in addressing migration. Europe must shift the focus of migration policy's external dimension and make it part of a broader geopolitical and geo-economic agenda that will be given its rightful place among other policies.

Employers and trade unions join with NGOs: climate change preparation is now urgent

The new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change is a crucial step towards achieving climate neutrality and resilience by 2050. European civil society strongly supports the Commission's commitment to strengthening efforts on climate proofing, resilience building, prevention and preparedness.

Multimodal freight transport: let's make it happen!

Moving goods using a combination of water and land transportation will be easier in Europe as soon as problems affecting intermodality are solved. In the opinion drafted by Stefan Back and adopted at the July plenary session, the EESC notes that lack of interoperability and poor infrastructure have a major impact on the development of integrated freight transport, often leaving operators no choice other than to use road transport. This in turn has a negative knock-on effect on the environment.

EESC calls for rapid implementation of EU synergies between civil, defence and space industries

The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the proposed EU Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries. The action plan can enhance Europe's strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty, improve the public security and boost competitiveness, economic growth and employment. Therefore, the EESC calls for rapid, forceful and ambitious implementation of the 11 actions set out in a Plan.

News from the Groups

EESC Employers' Group calls for a Digital Rural Act

By EESC Employers' Group

At its July extraordinary meeting, the Employers' Group urged the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, to propose a Digital Rural Act (DRA).

A DRA would facilitate the development of digital technologies in agriculture and rural areas, thus improving the effectiveness of the Common Agriculture Policy and supporting the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategies.

Conference on the Future of Europe: hopes and risks for a future that might end too soon

By the EESC Workers' Group

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a truly special occasion, a key moment, in the much-needed creation of a genuine European public sphere. Reaching out to citizens, engaging with civil society, with trade unions and business organisations, is fundamental to its success. The issues to be discussed, ranging from European democracy to social justice, from jobs to the environment, from migration to climate change, are key challenges of the present and future for our continent and our countries.

Banking and finance key to sustainable reconstruction and recovery after COVID-19

By the EESC Diversity Europe Group

Commissioner Mairead McGuinness joined the lastest extraordinary meeting of the Diversity Europe Group to debate the role of finance and banking in Europe's recovery.

In his welcome address, Diversity Europe Group president Séamus Boland recommended considering the role that conventional and alternative banking systems could play in the financial recovery, especially for small socially minded businesses, the social economy sector and SMEs. The Group president saw the need for a shift to financial and banking systems that take more account of citizens' choices and preferences.

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

New publication: Shaping Europe – Recent EESC achievements – 2021 edition

From the very beginning of the pandemic, the EESC has played an active role in shaping policies related to the ad-hoc response to COVID-19 and to overcoming the crisis. In parallel, the Committee has maintained a long-term, forward-looking approach, working to prepare economies and societies for the post-COVID-19 reality. This publication brings you specific examples of our recent actions and initiatives that have made a difference, and have had an impact on shaping Europe.

This brochure is available in six language versions (EN, FR, DE, IT, ES and PL) on the EESC's website: https://www.eesc.europa.eu/en/our-work/publications-other-work/publications/shaping-europe-recent-eesc-achievements-2021-edition.

Hard copies can be ordered from vipcese@eesc.europa.eu. (fgr)