Podcast - The Grassroots View- Episode 9 :Communication during the crisis

In the last episode in the series, produced in French, Isabel Caño Aguilar, EESC vice-president in charge of communication, speaks about the experience of COVID. She describes how the pandemic has changed the EESC's communication work, while making solidarity and commitment the key words in all of its work and initiatives, starting with the 2020 Civil Solidarity Prize. For the vice-president, "nothing will again be like it was before this pandemic, but it is our responsibility to react, to make a stronger Europe. Europeans are asking this of us."

Dessine-moi... (Draw me...)

The "Dessine-moi... (Draw me...)" column is coming to an end. These final articles add to and enhance the collection of stories that have been shared with us since the start of the pandemic. These heartfelt accounts of this period of involuntary isolation have moved us and encouraged us to find beauty in others, give more thought to the meaning of life and be more aware of the importance of seizing the moment.

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In this age of accelerated transformations, we have been witnessing how fragile our democracies, our societies and our planet can be. 

I started my presidency in April 2018, thinking that we needed to rediscover the humanist spirit of the Renaissance to speed our journey on the path to a sustainable Europe. On the back of Brexit and ahead of the European elections, I knew civil society had a vital role to play in moving the economy towards more sustainable and smarter models.

At the end of my term of office this month, I am in a position to say that Europe has once again shown its resilience. Nationalists and Eurosceptics were defeated in the EU elections and the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt an indisputable blow to their fake narrative. The EU has taken unprecedented measures and in a few months has smashed taboos that seemed to be set in stone, protecting our citizens and communities and investing in a strong strategy for the future with the broadest consensus ever.

Diary Dates

6-7 October 2020, Brussels, Belgium
Welcome days for the new EESC members

27- 28-29 October 2020, Brussels, Belgium
EESC renewal - inaugural plenary session

Dessine- moi..

Karolina Dreszer-Smalec: "Coronavirus: lessons learned"

In March 2020, we started to realise that the COVID-19 pandemic was not only a health crisis; it would influence many aspects of our lives. It was also clear for associations and activists that we would face new challenges in our ordinary work. As it turned out, the situation was even worse than we expected.

Martin Siecker: "Always look on the bright side of life"

Would I like to share my thoughts, analysis and emotions on how I experience the Corona crisis in 2000 characters? Not much for something disruptive like that, one character per century. But anyway, my thoughts are private and chaotic.

Jože Smole: "We have come out of the crisis united and stronger"

We were faced with a situation we had never experienced before. The virus was suddenly here and it was spreading very quickly, which led to the entire country being placed under complete quarantine. Since the situation was unprecedented, we had no experience of how to deal with it in the most efficient way.

Janusz Pietkiewicz: "Services of General Interest and the Pandemic"

As February turned into March, while studies and debates were taking place, we shared in the joyful Martenitsa celebrations of our Bulgarian friends, as we do at this time every year. We wore thin bracelets of braided red and white string and little woollen ragdolls were given as a token of good luck.

Giulia Barbucci: "Over these months, the voice of the trade unions has been stronger than ever"

11 March, back to Rome, back home. Heavy atmosphere, anxiety; in Northern Italy they are already counting the dead. My daughter Ilaria has returned from Milan where she studies; my, eldest, Miriam lives and works in Barcelona, and is very worried.

Dilyana Slavova: "COVID-19 has taught me not to delay my life projects"

The impact of the pandemic made borders in Europe visible again, sometimes even within the same country. One might think that, as a result, the scope for transnational cooperation among regions and cities has decreased. But actually, quite the opposite has happened.

Claudine Otto: "Greater autonomy regarding globalisation should be considered at European level"

The streets have been deserted since the lockdown was declared. The most striking thing is the silence. Gone are the race for jobs, travelling abroad for a two-hour meeting, the honking horns of city traffic, the bus that doesn't come...

Renate Heinisch: "Stamping out loneliness together"

As a pharmacist, I have been paying close attention to the question of gender medicine during the coronavirus pandemic. The gender differences in COVID-19 are particularly striking in the field of mental health.

Men – particularly young men – are more likely to require intensive care, and more likely to die.

Laure Batut: "Fear, resilience, and then?"

First, fear and astonishment

Fear, real fear. A fear that has brought everything to a halt ... which – with the evening death toll – makes you fear for your dear ones, the young, the old and the vulnerable. A fear that reminds you that the shadows are circling, that they are waiting ...

Bente Sorgenfrey: "Focusing on the essentials of my own life"

When the coronavirus crisis broke out in Denmark, on 11 March, my colleagues and I got busy ensuring an orderly shutdown for our members. Many employees had to work from home, others in stressful situations in hospitals, nursing homes and in the service sector, which remained open throughout the crisis. Clear answers and close cooperation with colleagues were necessities. 

Arnaud Schwartz: "Health, ecological, social, and economical crises: let's cooperate for a liveable world"

A far cry from inward-looking nationalism and the temptation of authoritarianism, cooperation on a European scale is essential. It is vital that countries work together to combat the virus and to tackle its causes and consequences, especially as future pandemics – just like pollution, climate change and the biodiversity crisis – know no borders.


Isabel Caño Aguilar, Vice-president for communication: "It's only goodbye for now"

There is a time for everything. The time has now come to say farewell. We have spent two and a half years together. Since April 2018 I have had the honour of serving as vice-president for communication, alongside Milena Angelova, the Vice-president for budget.

Milena Angelova, Vice-President for Budget: "Choosing the best course of action"

The European Union is living through dynamic, crucial moments. It needs the coordinated efforts and synergy of all institutions, all stakeholders, all European citizens to find the right strategy to successfully face all the challenges and perform as a strong world actor.

Artificial Intelligence: EU law should set safe boundaries for high-risk applications

Biometric recognition for tracking, surveillance and detecting emotions should have no place in Europe's human-centric Artificial Intelligence (AI), says the EESC in its response to the European Commission's White Paper on AI, adopted by the EESC plenary in July.

EU gender equality strategy must not fail to address the damaging effects of the COVID-19 crisis on women

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) calls on the European Commission to promptly implement its new Gender Equality Strategy, while tackling the damaging gender impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has further exacerbated existing social and economic gender inequalities, increasing violence against women and different forms of discrimination against them.

Achieving climate neutrality will depend heavily on the EU's capacity to engage with citizens

Tackling climate and environmental challenges has become a top EU priority. From climate change to climate emergency, the EU needs to make substantial changes to foster a well-being economy.

EESC pushes for data exchange for digital and collaborative economy

The EESC urges EU Member States to intensify their coordination on tax matters at European and international level with a view to the digital and collaborative economy. A closer coordination of tax policies applicable to the new economic sector and devising instruments and working solutions could improve tax compliance, assure fair competition and tap the full potential of this new economic sector.

EESC backs the European Year of Rail in 2021

Rail should play a prominent role in the EU's future mobility and become the primary form of transport. For this reason, the EESC is pleased to support the European Commission in proposing to mark 2021 as the Year of Rail.

The EESC outlines the key role of trade in promoting a sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19

At its July plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the latest annual report issued by the European Commission on the implementation of free trade agreements (FTAs), covering 2018. The EESC outlines the key role of trade in "promoting a sustainable economic recovery and allowing companies to rebuild and re-organise their disrupted value chains". At the same time, it regrets that civil society's monitoring work remains "largely absent" from the implementation report.

Coronavirus crisis: EESC says EU companies should rethink their business model

We need to change the way we do business in Europe and around the world, but the EU's long-term goals for sustainable economic growth should remain the pillars of our future in spite of the COVID-19 crisis.

Constant changes are jeopardising the completion of the trans-European transport network

Constant changes in EU Member States' domestic political priorities are a fundamental obstacle to achieving timely implementation of trans-European transport network (TEN-T) projects, and this raises doubts as to whether it will be possible to complete the core network by 2030.

Global warming: EESC calls for new tax measures to reduce CO2

New taxes and additional measures on CO2 emissions will help, but will not be sufficient: global warming is likely to continue unless existing CO2 emissions can be taken out of the atmosphere.
In an opinion drafted by Krister Andersson and adopted at the July plenary session, the Committee highlights the fact that a new system is needed whereby CO2 emissions are not only taxed and therefore discouraged, but emissions that are already in the atmosphere can be removed, stored and used for other purposes.

Globalisation without regulation leads to increased inequality, says EESC

Fostering competitiveness, innovation and job creation should be a priority in global regulatory cooperation through a renewed multilateral trading scheme, says the European Economic and Social Committee in an opinion initiated by Georgi Stoev and Thomas Student and adopted by the EESC plenary in July.

News from the Groups

The EESC calls for improved agricultural safeguard clauses in trade

By the EESC Employers' Group

An own-initiative opinion on Introduction of safeguard measures for agricultural products in trade agreements was adopted at the July plenary session.

How would the economy react if we ensured common minimum standards for unemployment across Europe?

By the EESC Workers' Group

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has transformed a looming crisis into a full-scale economic depression, seeing the largest GDP drops in peacetime for a century, and has sent millions to different unemployment or part-time  schemes. Despite their role in cushioning the bulk of the impact, our social systems are in general as ill-prepared as our health systems were for the pandemic, as they have been severely undermined by years of austerity since the 2008 crisis.

New study "Finding a new consensus on European civil society values and their evaluation" commissioned by EESC Diversity Europe Group published

By the EESC Diversity Europe Group

Do civil society organisations (CSOs) in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Hungary and Poland share a common understanding of the values of democracy, the rule of law and solidarity?

The new study Finding a new consensus on European civil society values and their evaluation, carried out by the European Policy Centre (EPC) for the EESC at the request of the EESC's Diversity Europe Group, shows that CSOs in the researched countries tend to converge in their definitions of these values, even if they display more diverse interpretations of solidarity than of democracy and the rule of law.