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Editorial

Without peace there is no growth, no prosperity and no future

Peace is something worth fighting for every single day.

The primary raison d'être of the European Union is always said to be that the EU has secured peace among its members for more than seven decades. Another compelling argument for Europe is how it has helped countries of the former Eastern bloc to re-integrate with the West  something that would never have been possible in such a short time without the Union. The European Union gives people a sense of belonging and fosters a European identity.

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Diary Dates

22-23/11/2018, Athens, Greece

12th EESC Civil Society Media Seminar - Reasserting Europe's values

28/11/2018, Brussels

EESC Consumer Summit

12-13/12/2018, Brussels

EESC plenary session

In short

EESC delegation debates social dialogue and youth policy with Albanian partners

Members of the European Economic and Social Committee met with representatives of Albanian civil society in Tirana on 24-25 September to discuss the state of social dialogue in Albania and debate youth policy and youth participation in the country.

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Five questions to Eleonora Di Nicolantonio

Eleonora Di Nicolantonio is the new Head of the EESC Communication Department as from 1 October 2018, taking over from Peter Lindvald-Nielsen.

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#JubelFestival - EESC members discuss new ideas for the future of Europe

An opportunity to exchange views and a learning experience, the Jubel Festival, the very first festival on European democracy in Belgium, took place on Saturday 22 September 2018 in Park Leopold in Brussels. EESC members Pierre Jean Coulon, Ronny Lannoo, Thierry Libaert and Daniel Mareels led a debate on the future of Europe, one that was particularly relevant in view of the upcoming European elections.

 

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Understanding Europe in one's mother language

The European Economic and Social Committee is holding an exhibition entitled The EU speaks your language to mark the 60th anniversary of the European Union's first legal act, Regulation No 1/58, which determined the languages to be used by the EU institutions. The exhibition is a tribute to a multilingual Europe and its richness.

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EESC News

Projects from 27 countries contend for the EESC Civil Society Prize 2018

#CivSocPrize @EU_EESC

The EESC has received 148 applications for its prize, which this year celebrates innovative initiatives promoting identities, European values and cultural heritage in Europe

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the voice of organised civil society at EU level, launched the EUR 50 000 prize in June. The applications, which closed on 7 September, attracted candidates from 27 EU Member States, showing that civil society's interest in the prize has increased since 2017, when only 20 countries were represented.

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EESC to advocate an ambitious EU budget of at least 1.3% of EU GNI

At a plenary debate in September with Günther Oettinger (Commissioner for Budget and HR) on the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, the EESC called - in line with the European Parliament's position - for an ambitious budget of at least 1.3% of GNI. This volume would provide the EU with the tools to tackle current and future challenges. An agreement on a robust budget before the European elections in May 2019 would send an important political message and ensure that important spending programmes could start without delay.

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EESC conference calls for real commitment to an ambitious cohesion policy post-2020

The European Commission's proposals for cohesion policy post 2020 include many positive aspects but do not go far enough. A cohesion budget that has been cut by 10% in comparison to the previous one will be insufficient to meet the needs of the current political agenda and environment. A final agreement on the EU budget 2021-2027 must be reached before the 2019 EU elections, in view of the challenges the EU is facing.

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Closing the digital gender gap would boost Europe's GDP by 16 billion EUR

The digital gender gap is a consequence of discrimination against women, which already starts in early childhood. The EESC suggests a multi-level approach and holistic policies addressing different sources of inequality.

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Adequate social protection should be guaranteed to workers in all employment relationships

Access to social protection is a key element in a fairer society, yet for many people on Europe's labour market and in particular for those in new forms of work or for the self-employed, that access is becoming increasingly inadequate, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) warned in its opinion on the European Commission's proposal for a Recommendation on access to social protection.

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ECI Minority SafePack presented at the EESC

At the EESC plenary on 20 September, the initiators of the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) Minority SafePack presented their request, which is aimed at improving the protection of national and linguistic minorities in Europe

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Consumer rules should both protect consumers and help traders face disruption brought by booming e-commerce in Europe

European business and consumer representatives united in a lukewarm welcome of the Commission's proposed New Deal for Consumers at the European Economic and Social Committee's plenary session on 20 September. Taking a position on the package, the Committee wondered whether the New Deal does live up to its promise of making consumer legislation in Europe fit for the digital age. Focusing on the actual enforcement of existing consumer protection rules should have been a priority, in the EESC's view.

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EESC calls for inclusive AI that puts workers first when smart technology is introduced into the workplace

The EU needs to ensure that the AI revolution does not endanger the quality of work in Europe. Interactions between workers and machines must be regulated so that humans never become underlings to machines, argues the European Economic and Social Committee in a report adopted at its September plenary.

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All unfair trade practices in the food supply chain must be prohibited and all operators protected

Unfair trading practices (UTPs) result in negative economic, social and environmental effects. The food supply chain is particularly vulnerable to UTPs, as the Commission has recognised. However, its proposal for a directive on unfair trade practices in the food supply chain does not go far enough.

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EESC calls for mandatory measures on online platforms to counter disinformation

Social media platforms should become more responsible and stick to strict rules. The Committee agrees with the European Commission that this would represent a great leap forward in tackling disinformation. However, the Commission proposal lacks practical steps to achieve these objectives. In the opinion put together by Martin Siecker and adopted at the EESC plenary session on 19 September 2018, the EESC urges the Commission to approve compulsory measures.

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New Commission digital market proposal will protect SMEs

The new regulation on the digital single market proposed by the European Commission will not only protect e-commerce consumers, but - for the first time ever - also SMEs. Businesses operating on online platforms and search engines will be able to resolve possible conflicts out of court. This is the progress highlighted by the opinion drawn up by Marco Vezzani and adopted by the EESC plenary session on 19 September 2018.

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The EC's environmental action plan is severely lacking in both ambition and resources

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has warned that the European Commission's environmental action plan, aimed at improving the poor and uneven implementation of EU environmental law and governance across the EU, shows a serious lack of ambition and resources, proposing measures that are too weak to adequately and uniformly sanction non-compliance by Member States.

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EESC backs Commission proposals to invest in smart, safe and sustainable mobility

EESC President Luca Jahier and European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc engaged in a lively debate on mobility at the EESC plenary session on 20 September 2018. An appropriate regulatory framework for a well-functioning Single European Transport Area, digitalisation in land transport technology, better interoperability between the various existing electronic road toll systems and investment in clean electricity were at the heart of the debate with EESC members.

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EESC advocates stronger Connecting Europe Facility after 2020

A stronger budget, more synergies between networks, continued technical support, reaffirmed commitment to investment in electricity projects, and dual use of civilian‑military infrastructure. In the opinion put together by Aurel Laurențiu Plosceanu and Graham Watson, which was approved at the EESC plenary on 19 September 2018, the EESC broadly supports the new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) regulation for 2021-2027 and points out areas where there is room for improvement.

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News from the Groups

The European social model – can we still afford it in a globalised world?

By the EESC's Employers' Group

To remain successful socially, we need economic success. To ensure that the European social model continues to be sustainable, we have to improve its efficiency and increase Europe's productivity. These were the key conclusions of the discussion on The European social model – can we still afford it in a globalised world?, which took place in Sopot, Poland, on 27 September 2018.

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Turning Euroscepticism around

By the EESC's Workers' Group

The Workers' Group met this month in Vienna to discuss the Austrian presidency, along with the threats faced by workers and citizens in Europe and the trade unions' strategies to address them.

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Fighting populism is everybody's business

By the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

Economic progress and social stability are two excellent weapons to counter Euroscepticism, but they are not enough. At a conference held in cooperation with the Vorarlberg Chamber of Labour in Feldkirch, Austria, on 11 October 2018, the EESC's Diversity Europe Group looked at how and why populism has emerged in the EU and pointed to the key role civil society can play in fighting it.

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Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

Reasserting Europe's values

The role of civil society in protecting, promoting and reinforcing our heritage of values, looking towards the upcoming European elections

At its 12th Civil Society Media Seminar, which will be held in Athens from 22 to 23 November, the European Economic and Social Committee will look at European values as part of Europe's heritage.

 

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Edvard Stepančič and constructivism across borders

In conjunction with the October plenary session, an exhibition of paintings entitled Edvard Stepančič and constructivism across borders will be presented in Foyer 6. The exhibition features a private collection of 21 original artworks and will be opened on Wednesday 17 October at 1 p.m. by EESC President Luca Jahier.

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Food for Thought

In November the EESC will be hosting an exhibition entitled Food for Thought featuring 25 oil on canvas paintings by renowned artist Bruce Thurman. Presented in the guise of an illustrated cookbook, it is a voyage through the different recipes of Europe showcasing different food cultures.
 

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