Podcast - The Grassroots View - S2, E5: Without media freedom, there is no democracy

The EU may still enjoy the status of the safest place for journalists in the world, but this could easily change as the current trend of intimidating, harassing and even killing reporters seems to be on the rise.

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Dear readers,

Earlier in October, the European Commission adopted its 2022 work programme "Making Europe stronger together", with a focus on rebuilding a fairer and more resilient post-COVID-19 society while accelerating the green and digital transitions. I was pleased to see that many of the recommendations set out in our EESC resolution adopted at the June plenary session had been taken on board.

Diary Dates

Straight to the point!

In our column "Straight to the point", we ask EESC members about important EU opinions that have an impact on everyday life in the EU.

This time we give the floor to Giuseppe Guerini, rapporteur for the opinion on the economics of digital platforms and especially of platform cooperatives.

Giuseppe Guerini: "The digital platform economy: a rapidly‑expanding phenomenon that goes beyond the borders of the European Union"

Digital platforms build a "virtual space" where interactions and exchanges take place that involve much more than simply matching supply and demand. These platforms are able to monitor and influence workers, suppliers and users in increasingly sophisticated ways. However, they also represent an extraordinary breakthrough innovation, offering new services for clients and new employment opportunities. They are able to do so through profiling systems and extensive use of data, employing artificial intelligence systems and algorithms determined by those who run the platforms.

One question to ...

One question to…

In our "One question to…" section, we ask Sophia Wiegand to respond to a topic that has attracted a great deal public attention, COP26 in Glasgow.

Sophia Wiegand: "COP26 disappointed the young, but did not take away hope"

EESC Info: Did the COP26 summit in Glasgow live up to the expectations of the younger generation who are actively demanding effective solutions to combat global warming?

Guess who is our guest..

The surprise guest

Every month in our column "The surprise guest" we introduce a public figure whose work and commitment are seen by others as a source of inspiration. We admire them for their courage, tenacity of purpose and fidelity to ideals.


Matthew Caruana Galizia: "I try to make sure that my mother did not die for nothing"

Interview with Matthew Caruana Galizia, investigative journalist and director of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation in Malta.

"I work at the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation in Malta, which is named after my mother, Daphne. She was a journalist for 30 years, investigating high-level corruption and social issues in Malta, and she was murdered during the course of one of her most important investigations, on 16 October 2017. I witnessed the murder. And ever since then, together with my family, we have been fighting for justice for her".

Herman van Rompuy: The old poet speaks gently

We are delighted to host a new selection of haikus by Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, as part of our series "The old poet speaks gently".


Future EU trade policy needs to be open, fair, inclusive and sustainable

In a plenary debate on the future of EU trade policy in a changing global reality, the EESC stressed that open, fair, inclusive and sustainable trade was the only trade that would deliver a resilient recovery and bring prosperity to business and people. It also acknowledged the key role of the World Trade Organisation in this effort.

Violations of Schengen area freedoms and rights need to be addressed

The European Economic and Social Committee has welcomed the new EU strategy for the future of the Schengen area put forward by the European Commission. However, it has warned that the EU and Member States are obliged to uphold the Charter of Fundamental Rights with regard to the management of EU and national borders, police and judicial cooperation and migration and asylum policies.

Industrial policy: time for the EU to do more than fix market failures

How to best ensure the strategic autonomy of Europe's industry was the focus of a debate on industrial policy at the EESC October plenary.

Reversing the negative trends in the rule of law across the EU through civil society

The conference on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law held by the European Economic and Social Committee brought into light serious violations and negative trends in the four areas covered by the European Rule of Law Mechanism (justice, corruption, media, checks and balances). The EESC stressed that civil society is a dynamic actor in defending this fundamental principle of the EU.


EU economic recovery – Civil society's role needs more clarity

The implementation of National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) in most EU Member States needs clarified governance systems. The distribution of responsibilities between central, regional and local levels is still unclear. The EESC is sounding the alarm and, in its opinion on the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 adopted at its October plenary session and drawn up by Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, stresses that the mechanisms for involving civil society organisations and social partners in the implementation, monitoring and adjustment phases of the NRRPs need more clarity.

5G – EESC urges Commission to further assess impact on human health and environment

European Commission should move forward in the process of assessing the multi-sectoral impact of new 5G and 6G technologies. Tools and measures are needed to address risks and vulnerabilities. In the opinion drafted by Dumitru Fornea and adopted by the assembly in the October plenary session, the EESC takes a firm stand, and notes that social, health and environmental issues need to be examined, involving citizens and all relevant actors, in spite of the fact that the debate on the deployment of 5G networks has turned into a controversial, political discussion.

EESC says Commission's green aviation initiative has room for improvement

The European Commission's new initiative to speed up the growth of a market for sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) is a step in the right direction, but some modifications are needed to ensure that it can be implemented effectively, without creating distortions. This is the key message of the opinion on the RefuelEU Aviation proposal, drafted by Thomas Kropp and adopted at the October plenary.

It is key to rethink priorities and put food security and sustainability at the top of the EU agenda

Recent events caused by COVID-19, extreme weather due to climate disruption, cyber-attacks and Brexit demonstrate the need to rethink priorities and improve the resilience and sustainability of EU food systems by reinforcing its autonomy. Food security is not a given for many EU citizens.

Sustainable and balanced rural and urban development is the key to EU citizens' well-being

EESC is calling on policy-makers to implement a comprehensive and holistic strategy for balanced, cohesive, equitable and sustainable rural and urban development. This will involve harnessing the role of local communities, boosting traditional industries and creating new economic activities and job opportunities in rural areas, while fostering synergies with urban areas.

EU fiscal rules – EESC calls for reforms

The EU fiscal framework needs to be revised. This must be done not only to stabilise the economy in the medium term, but also to finance the socio-ecological transformation of our economy and guarantee full employment, high-quality jobs and just transitions. The opinion drafted by Dominika Biegon and adopted by the assembly at the October plenary session is clear: the European Commission must press on with revising the EU economic governance framework.


Sustainable advertising has the power to drive Europe’s green transition

In an own-initiative opinion adopted at the October plenary, the EESC set out measures for advertising to adapt to the challenges of climate change and the post-pandemic recovery while continuing to play its important role in Europe’s economy and culture.

A sustainable industrial strategy for the EU must be inclusive and consider social impacts to succeed

A post-pandemic industrial strategy to ensure a strong recovery must include civil society, stresses the EESC in a recent report on the draft new EU industrial strategy. It must focus on sustainability and wellbeing, measure social impacts and promote an efficient, accessible healthcare system.

EESC calls for new EU policies to support the glass industry

Adding to the dialogue on the transition towards a climate-neutral society, the European Economic and Social Committee has called for more action to be taken to protect the European glass industry.

Blended learning: equal access, full-length education and social skills must not suffer

The European Economic and Social Committee has expressed some reservations about the Commission's recent proposal on introducing blended learning - traditional teacher-led learning combined with online or other independent work – in primary and secondary education, questioning its timeliness given how greatly the COVID-19 pandemic has affected education systems in Europe and elsewhere.

High-quality long-term care is set to rise

The excessive mortality rates during this pandemic crisis have revealed structural and systemic problems in the nursing home care model. In addition, the rise in life expectancy and the consequent increase in the number of older persons in the years to come point to the need to reform the care model.

Be connected and let's stay in touch!

The Connecting EU 2021 seminar in Lisbon is over. For the fourteenth time, we met with communications experts from organised civil society and press officers to talk about the Europe we dream of. Now it is time to make the dream of a strong, safe, secure, fair, inclusive, hopeful Europe a reality.


News from the Groups

Boosting the use of Artificial Intelligence in Europe's micro, small and medium-sized enterprises

By the EESC Employers' Group
The current diversity and potential of AI applications are nearly unlimited, and many businesses and citizens unknowingly use AI-driven solutions at present. As these innovative technologies become increasingly mainstream, MSMEs need to adopt AI to maintain their position vis-à-vis existing and emerging competitors. Nevertheless, several obstacles lead to an adoption gap between markets and/or between large corporations and MSMEs. A recent study shed light on the opportunities and challenges of AI uptake for Europe's MSMEs.


Ensure living wages to help close the gender pay gap

By the EESC Workers' Group

10 November was Equal Pay Day 2021, an opportunity to raise awareness about the gender pay gap which averages over 14% across Europe and climbs much higher in some countries. The trend is improving in some cases, while in others the current rate of improvement will deliver satisfactory results in a few thousand years...

Civil Society Organisations call for an EU Civil Society Strategy

By the EESC Diversity Europe Group

At a conference on 'Civil Society Organisations: Key Actors for the Future of Europe' on 5 November 2021, organised by the EESC's Diversity Europe Group (in partnership with Civil Society Europe and with the support of the EESC's Liaison Group and Associational Life Category), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and their umbrella organisations reiterated their call for an EU Civil Society Strategy and a European Statute for Associations. Appropriate follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) and a regular, structured dialogue with CSOs were considered key aspects in rebuilding citizens' trust in politics and strengthening European democracy.

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

"The Truth about Lies" waits to be unveiled

The EESC partners the Europalia Arts Festival and "welcomes on board" Boris Charmatz

To mark the 2021 European Year of Rail, the EESC organised the screening of a short film by the Europalia Arts Festival.