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One year into the EESC's new term of office: a first opportunity to take stock

We all remember the day we launched the new term: it was 28 October 2020, at the height of the pandemic, and the plenary was to take place online. Everything was surreal; the future seemed uncertain; nobody knew when and how a vaccine would become available, but we managed to get our work under way.

Diary Dates

Straight to the point

Straight to the point!

Welcome to our new column "Straight to the point", in which we ask EESC members about important EU topics, opinions or events that have an impact on everyday life in the EU. This time we give the floor to Andrej Zorko, rapporteur of the exploratory opinion "Key components of sustainable quality work during and after recovery", requested by the Slovenian Presidency of the EU and adopted at the EESC's September plenary session.


The principle of quality of work for quality of life must be upheld

By Andrej Zorko (Workers' Group), rapporteur of the exploratory opinion on "Key components of sustainable quality work during and after recovery"


One question to ...

One question to…

In our "One question to…" section we ask EESC members to respond to a what we think is a particularly important question of the moment.
For the October edition, we asked Ionuţ Sibian, vice-president of the Section for External Relations and president of the EU-Western Balkans Follow-up Committee, to comment on the future accession of Western Balkans countries.


Civil society role is bridging the gap between politics and people

EESC info: How can civil society accompany the process of negotiations and future integration of Western Balkan countries? In this context, what is the role of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum initiated by the EESC?




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. We are pleased to present prominent individuals from the world of culture, politics and science whose activity and creativity are an invitation to others to be active and to take action.

These are people who contribute to changing the shape of the reality in which we live. For the EESC info October edition, we have invited Professor Caroline Pauwels, who is the rector of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She draws attention to the impact of the pandemic on young people and the university environment and presents three post-pandemic lessons that could affect the future of students.

Caroline Pauwels: University at the time of the pandemic and one year later

At the beginning of September 2021, together with the rectors of the five other founding universities of our European network Eutopia, I welcomed to Brussels the rectors of three new universities that are joining our network. These were very special encounters for many reasons.

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 gently", offered to us by their author, Herman van Rompuy, former president of the European Council.

Original version of haikus is in French.


Cohesion must be at the heart of post-pandemic Europe, say Commissioner Elisa Ferreira and EESC president Christa Schweng

Cohesion policy is key to developing a new post-COVID-19 vision for the European Union, centred on prosperity, inclusion and environmental sustainability, a vision in which organised civil society is fully included. This was the message from Christa Schweng, EESC president, and echoed by Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, at the EESC September plenary session.

Media freedom must stay at the top of our agendas

The European Economic and Social Committee is joining the EU's efforts to reverse the worrying trend of declining media freedoms and the increasing curbs on journalistic independence caused by mounting pressure from various power and business structures, poor pay, media ownership concentration and a proliferation of fake news on social media and other channels.

Civil society is key to turning words into deeds - EESC president Christa Schweng welcomes the priorities and ambitions set out in the State of the Union address

A strong emphasis on the EU's recovery, health union and digitalisation, a firm position on defending the rule of law and a focus on the future of Europe: the EESC welcomes these aspects of this year's State of the Union address, which are in tune with its priorities.

The renewed EU commitment to the fight against human trafficking must bring tangible results

The EESC broadly supports the EU's new 2021-2025 strategy against trafficking in human beings, but also calls attention to the need to incorporate the social dimension into the policy.

EESC: voluntary returns may become a euphemism for expulsions

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomed the Commission's efforts to harmonise the measures regulating voluntary return of migrants and their reintegration into their country of origin, but said it doubted the feasibility of some of the proposals put forward and expressed concern that voluntary returns could turn into expulsions of migrants from the EU.

AI in Europe: not all decisions can be reduced to ones and zeros

In two reports on draft EU legislation on AI, the EESC calls for an all-out ban on social scoring and for a complaint and redress mechanism for people who have suffered harm from an AI system.

On the first EU "organic day", the EESC stresses the importance of more sustainable, fairer and more inclusive food systems

Organic Food

With Europe slowly getting back on track after the COVID-19 crisis, it is high time it moved from words to action and implemented the Farm to Fork strategy. The EESC strongly advocates supporting the transformation of Europe's food systems so that they become more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. It also stresses that cooperation (rather than competition) among food chain operators is essential to foster a more resilient and inclusive food system, ensuring a fair share for all.

The sustainable finance taxonomy: a key tool for supporting green investment and preventing climate change

The EU needs efficient and urgent measures to reduce emissions and get to grips with climate change. To that end, the Sustainable Finance Package presented by the European Commission has the potential to establish a clear, coherent and comprehensive framework in which a greener economy can develop without lock-in effects.

The 8th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum makes clear the place of the Western Balkans is in the EU

The EESC's Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, which took place in Skopje on 30 September and 1 October, shone a bright spotlight on the state of play in the region's clear EU accession prospects and the active involvement of civil society in this effort.


EESC joins the European raw materials alliance

On 1 October 2021, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) officially kicked off its participation in the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA). ERMA was launched on 29 September 2020 by the European Commission in order to foster resilience and strategic autonomy in the supply of critical raw materials for EU industry and society. The alliance currently comprises over 500 members from the EU and beyond.

Run together for a better Europe

This year saw the 41st Brussels 20 km race, held on 12 September. The race was dedicated to two campaigns: the first, to promote the Conference on the Future of Europe with its slogan: "The Future is in your hands", and the second, to encourage action against cancer and raise 10 000 euros to fight cancer and support research. For this campaign, EUR 10 from every registration fee went directly to TELEVIE, a charity event organised in French-speaking Belgium and in Luxembourg by RTL-TVI since 1989 for the benefit of scientific research against cancer for children and adults.


News from the Groups

European employers question the practical aspects of the "Fit for 55" package

By Arnold Puech d'Alissac, EESC Employers Group

A few weeks after the presentation of the legislative proposals for the "Fit for 55" package – the set of measures linked to the Recovery Fund through which the European Commission proposes meeting the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 – European employers, who are currently analysing the measures announced, fully support the direction taken but nevertheless wonder about many practical points.

Workers' view on the 2021 State of the Union speech

By the EESC Workers Group

The 2021 State of the Union address has some shortcomings in terms of its ambition and clarity, despite naming virtually all the key challenges facing Europe.

Delivering on the urgency of climate change: nowhere left to hide

Statement by the Diversity Europe Group

"It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Climate change is already affecting every inhabited region across the globe with human influence contributing to many observed changes in weather and climate extremes"(Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC, August 2021).

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

The future is in your hands – what kind of Europe do you dream of?

On 18-19 November, the European Economic and Social Committee will hold its Connecting EU Seminar, previously the Civil Society Media Seminar, which every year brings together communicators from civil society organisations represented in or linked with the EESC. The event will be held at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

Channelling financial resources into green and social investments

The industry sector will face major challenges as a result of EU measures to stave off the climate crisis. How can sustainable finance be developed to help meet the goals of the European Green Deal and at the same time ensure that European industry remains competitive? An EESC webinar on 18 October will discuss this thorny issue.

Geopolitics of the European Green Deal

The European Green Deal will inevitably have an impact on our external relations. A hybrid conference co-organised by the EESC and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in Brussels on 6 December will look at the extent of this impact.