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Editorial

As you may well be aware,  the European Economic and Social Committee  blew out the sixty candles on its birthday cake in May and proudly looked back at all of its achievements up to the present. Moreover, this date encouraged us to reflect upon the role and the future of the EESC and upon the place of civil society in the Europe of today and tomorrow, the Europe whose core values should be upheld and strengthened.

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Diary Dates

12/07/2018  Brussels

16th meeting of EU-DAG under EU-Korea FTA

 

13/07/2018  Brussels

1st meeting of EU-DAG under EU-Canada CETA

 

17/07/2018  Podgorica

11th meeting of EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee

 

17/07/2018  Brussels

5th Meeting EU-Africa Economic and Social Stakeholders' network

Europe at work

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The video "Europe at work" celebrates the 60th anniversary of the European Economic and Social Committee. It shows concrete examples from the areas of work where the EESC and its members have made a difference to the lives of European citizens throughout the years.

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In short

Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2018

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Austria holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July to 31 December 2018. "A Europe that protects" is the motto chosen by the government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Among the topics on the programme are security and migration, maintaining competitiveness through digitalisation, stability in the neighbourhood and bringing the Western Balkans closer to the EU. The presidency will also continue negotiations on Brexit. Before the United Kingdom's final withdrawal from the EU, scheduled for 29 March 2019, all national parliaments in the EU Member States must ratify a final deal on Brexit. The EU presidency will also continue the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. European affairs minister Gernot Blümel will be a guest at the EESC's July plenary session (11 and 12 July 2018) to present the work programme and answer questions from Committee members. (eh)

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No one should be left behind in the digital revolution

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This was the main message from the conference on Digitalisation in Austria on 19 June, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee

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Spanish MEPs back EESC on consumer financial services

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The need to build consumer confidence in cross-border financial services in Europe with a view to increasing the share of these - currently a mere 7% of the total - was stressed at a conference organised by EESC member Carlos Trias Pintó on 24 May at the European Commission representation in Madrid. MEP Othman Karas announced that the European Parliament would relay some of the EESC's key proposals in its own response to the Commission's proposed Consumer Financial Services Action Plan.

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Regions phasing out coal in Europe: the EESC takes a close look at Germany

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The first round table on coal regions in transition was held on 29 May 2018 in Grevenbroich, Germany. Together with EESC members and a Commission representative, a number of local players took part in the discussion.

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The handbook for the digital era has not yet been written, but Europe needs a plan

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The EESC discussed digitalisation and inequalities at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, held in Bonn from 11 to 13 June

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EESC secretary-general Luis Planas appointed minister in Pedro Sanchez's new Spanish government

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On 6 June, Luis Planas was invited by the Spanish president, Pedro Sanchez, to join his government as minister for agriculture, fisheries and food. With 35 years of experience in European affairs, having served as diplomat, senior Commission official and MEP, and as an advocate of a strong, united and solidarity-based European Union, he has played a prominent role in the development of the EU institutions over many years. A champion of the European cause, in his view there is no alternative to the EU.

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EESC's Madi Sharma among the world's top 100 influencers in gender policy

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EESC member Madi Sharma has been listed among the 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy around the world in 2018.

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EESC Finnish member Pirkko Raunemaa receives Interpreters' 2018 Delegate of the Year Award

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Pirkko Rauneamaa, a Finnish member of the EESC's Diversity Europe Group, was presented with the 2018 Delegate of the Year Award by the European Commission's Finnish interpreters on 23 May in Brussels.

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Enlarged EESC presidency on the trail of memory in Krakow, Poland

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President Luca Jahier and the enlarged presidency of the European Economic and Social Committee visited Poland on 10-12 June for a meeting to launch the new EESC presidency.

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On 1 July 2018, Peter Lindvald-Nielsen's term as Head of the Department for Communications comes to an end

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For ten years, Peter Lindvald-Nielsen has worked with press officers and other experts in the fields of images, public relations, graphic design and social media. It has been a time of catchy titles, articles both short and long, press releases, political, social, cultural and gastronomic events, hard work, talking and, most importantly, a lot of shared laughter. Peter's motto is to connect people through laughter, because there is nothing more human than to laugh together. Peter has enriched our language, encouraging us to say YES instead of NO, INVEST instead of SPEND and SOLUTION instead of PROBLEM.

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New publications

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

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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.

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EESC News

EESC turning 60 vows to take decisive and visionary action for a better Europe

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In his speech on the occasion of the European Economic and Social Committee's 60th anniversary on 24 May, EESC President Luca Jahier voiced the Committee's resolve not to rest on its laurels and charted a course for the EESC's future action based on seven priorities. Top EU leaders debating future of Europe agree civic space is and must remain key to European democracy.

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2018 Civil Society Prize on identities, European values and cultural heritage in Europe

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Global developments over the past few years have put the European project to the test. Internal divisions, feelings of disaffection among citizens and a dramatic increase in migration have found populations and all levels of government unprepared, giving rise to nationalist rhetoric and straining mutual solidarity.

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"Direct payments must only go to active farmers", says the EESC as it calls for special support for young farmers

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The EESC supports a strong, well-funded CAP and an increase of the EU budget to 1.3% of GNI in line with the growth of the EU economy. Adequate CAP funding must be provided to address the low incomes of farmers and agricultural workers, inflation and any Brexit shortfall, as well as additional environmental and climate change requirements.

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27 recycled bottles to make a T-shirt

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A successful plastics strategy must aim at effective educational and training measures in order to foster respect of the dynamic balance of the biosphere.  In order to make plastics more recyclable and accelerate the transition to a circular economy, it is necessary to create design and behavioural incentives as well as common technical and regulatory standards.

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New forms of work call for more transparent and predictable working conditions

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With the increase in flexible and atypical employment in the EU, it is now paramount to make working conditions more transparent and predictable for all workers, which can be best achieved through social dialogue and collective bargaining at national level, argues the EESC in its opinion on the Commission's proposal for a directive on transparent working conditions.

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EU VAT system urgently needs to keep pace with market developments

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The EESC welcomes the European Commission's proposals regarding its Action Plan on VAT, aimed to be for the benefit of the final consumer, but calls for some modifications. It urges Member States to do their utmost to implement the proposed reforms and move towards the definitive Value Added Tax (VAT) system within a reasonable timeframe.

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Investing in high-performance computing will benefit our well-being, competitiveness and jobs

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The EESC supports the European Commission's initiative to create the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking and states that this key technology will help tackle the most challenging issues facing society today and will ultimately benefit our well-being, competitiveness and jobs.

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The future of the Western Balkans should be a European future

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More than 100 civil society representatives have adopted their contribution to the EU-Western Balkans Heads of State Summit in Sofia on 15 May.

Participants at the high-level conference were convinced that the enlargement of the EU, and in particular the spread of its democratic values and legal standards to the Western Balkan region, was in the interest of both the Western Balkan countries and the EU.

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Trade, investment, social security and solidarity – focal points of 16th EU-China Round Table

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"Civil society's contribution enriches the multi-faceted partnership between the European Union and the People's Republic of China and results in better international relations," agreed the EESC president Luca Jahier and the vice-president of the Chinese Economic and Social Council, Yang Chongui, during the 16th Round Table meeting between their institutions.

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An EU-Mercosur Association Agreement is only possible if it is beneficial for both parties

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 The Agreement should not sacrifice any sector, region or country, the European Economic and Social Committee stresses

The European Union is the world's largest economy, and Mercosur the sixth largest. There are significant benefits to be gained for both parties in signing the Association Agreement (AA), says the European Economic and Social Committee in its opinion Towards an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, adopted at its plenary session on 24 May.

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EU cannot forget its values while developing artificial intelligence, say EU policymakers

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The first stakeholders' summit on artificial intelligence, organized by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the European Commission on 18 June in Brussels, stressed that the EU needs to ensure that artificial intelligence is safe, unbiased and in line with European values.

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3rd European Day of Social Economy Enterprises: time to be recognised and scale up

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“This is a moment for social economy enterprises to demonstrate European values at a time when the EU is facing huge challenges,” said Ariane Rodert, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), who opened the third European Day of Social Economy Enterprises (SEEs).

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EESC 9th Civil Society Days: digital era needs human skills and proper legal environment

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Citizenship, Democracy and Culture in a digitalised Europe was the motto of the 2018 Civil Society Days, held by the Liaison Group at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels on 24 and 25 May.

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Regional economic benefits of energy transition are often overlooked

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On 31 May, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held a hearing on the Energy Transition in Europe's Regions to shine a spotlight on the regional economic benefits of the shift to decentralised and low-carbon energy supplies, a topic which has remained largely unexplored despite the fact that the transition has a distinctly regional dimension.

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European Commission's budgetary proposal lacks political ambition

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The proposal for the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 put forward by the Commission does not go far enough and lacks political ambition  this was one of the main conclusions of a conference on the subject hosted by the EESC. A swift agreement on an adequate and properly reformed long-term budget would be desirable.

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News from the Groups

A study on Implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights

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by the EESC's Workers' Group

A study carried out by the European Social Observatory for the European Economic and Social Committee at the request of the Workers' Group.

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'In Defence of Diversity'

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by the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

I have visited Auschwitz-Birkenau several times, and each time have been overwhelmed by the horror and inhumanity that human beings are able to inflict on fellow humans. But there are also other feelings which change with each visit. Perhaps it was to be expected and indeed hoped for, that the visit of the EESC's enlarged presidency to the concentration camps on 12 June made us reflect not only on the past, but also very much on the present and the future.

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The Future of Europe – Employers' perspectives

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by the EESC's Employers' Group

More consistent, more united and less bureaucratic – this is how employers see the future of Europe. The business community remains staunchly pro-European and wants to play an active role in shaping the future of the EU. The participants in the conference on The Future of Europe – Employers' perspectives, which took place on 21 June 2018 in Madrid, Spain, highlighted concrete examples of shortcomings in the EU and identified solutions for the future.

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Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

Sounds from "Songs of Longing" marked the EESC's 60th Anniversary

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The cultural event to commemorate and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the EESC was undoubtedly a unique and memorable artistic performance, combining various elements of the culture and creative industry spectrum.

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