The Grassroots View - an EESC podcast

Episode 1 - Whatever happened to the rule of law?
Titel 1

The Grassroots View is a new podcast series launched by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). It explores the hot topics everyone seems to be debating these days, but does so from a civil society perspective, bringing testimonies from stakeholders on the ground and accounts from the EESC members who represent their interests in Brussels.

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The American journalist and feminist Gloria Steinem declared that "a gender-equal society would be one where the word 'gender' does not exist, where everyone can be themselves."

However, to get there we need to work harder. Although there has been progress, gender equality is still just a dream. At the EESC, we have been working for many years to raise awareness on this topic and put it on the agenda. We no longer want to hear mere declarations of good intentions about equality, we want political decisions to be taken to achieve it.

We must overcome sexist stereotypes. We must challenge the stereotypes put forward by certain media, religious or other groups. What we demand is for gender inequality to be actively fought in all areas; otherwise we will have to wait another century to achieve it.

Diary Dates

19 December 2019, Brussels

16th meeting of the EU advisory group for the EU-Central America Association Agreement

22-23 January 2020, Brussels

EESC plenary session

In short

The EESC holds its first conference dedicated to the rule of law

The EESC conference on "Fundamental rights and the rule of law – trends in the EU from a civil society perspective", which took place on 5 November in Brussels, signalled the urgent need to involve civil society in promoting a culture of the rule of law in Europe.

European Economic and Social Committee to introduce new logo

With its three loops, the new logo symbolises the spirit of compromise between the Committee's three Groups, which is at the heart of the EESC's work.

Season’s greetings

Dear readers,

We want to thank you for your interest over 2019: every like, share and retweet, and every word of encouragement, is hugely appreciated!


Green light from European Parliament for new European Commission - Launch on 1 December 2019

Statement by Luca Jahier, EESC President

Team #vonderleyen gets the green light: Let’s now deliver a Sustainable Europe in the interest of its citizens!


Today's vote in the European Parliament opens the way to a new era for Europe. I am convinced that new Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and her team of Executive Vice-Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Commissioners, will usher in a new momentum for our continent, after the encouraging results of the European elections in May.

"Brexit is just a stage, not a final destination"

The EESC October plenary session included a debate with Michel Barnier, European Union chief negotiator for Brexit, on 30 October. During the debate, Mr Barnier called for a close partnership between the EU and the UK after Brexit, bearing in mind that peace in Ireland must be a priority and that "the integrity of the single market is not negotiable".

And the EESC Civil Society Prize goes to…

The European Economic and Social Committee has chosen five finalists from among the nearly 180 inspiring projects it received for its 2019 Civil Society Prize dedicated to the empowerment of women and the fight for gender equality.

EU rights and citizenship should not be for sale

In recent years, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, several EU Member States have set up investor citizenship and residence schemes to attract investment and increase their revenues. According to an opinion adopted by the EESC at its October plenary session, this practice poses serious risks and should be banned in all EU Member States.

Sustainable development must be top priority for the future of Europe

Sustainable development must be at the heart of Europe's future. In the resolution drafted by Patricia Círez Miqueleiz, Rudy De Leeuw and Lutz Ribbe and adopted at the October plenary session, the EESC advises the European Commission to structure its future work plan for 2020 and beyond around this pillar.

"A geo-strategic and historic mistake"

EESC criticises Council decision not to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania

The EESC is deeply disappointed by EU leaders' decision, at the European Council on 17-18 October, to further postpone accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

Culture can be a driver for strengthening the EU

The EESC October plenary hosted a debate on rEUnaissance - A cultural vision for Europe.

Opening the debate, EESC president Luca Jahier welcomed the fact that Emmanuel had embraced his idea of a Renaissance for Europe. "We should not forget that our continent was a cultural area before it was a political idea, and such an area does not imply homogeneity, but thrives on variation and movement."

EESC calls for initiatives to seize the huge growth opportunities of the blue bioeconomy

The potential of the blue bioeconomy remains untapped in the EU. The EESC therefore recommends pan-European pilot projects involving local stakeholders and the scientific community. 

At the request of the Finnish presidency, the EESC has drawn up an exploratory opinion on the Blue bioeconomy, which refers to economic activities based on the sustainable use of renewable aquatic resources and related expertise.

EESC proposes introducing EU certification for trusted AI products

The EESC suggests that the EU should develop a certification for trustworthy AI, to be delivered by an independent body after testing the products for key requirements such as resilience, safety, and absence of prejudice, discrimination or bias. The proposal has been put forward in two recent EESC opinions assessing the European Commission's ethical guidelines on AI

Blockchain: the EU should become world leader

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform society, but there is a need for legal clarity and certainty and therefore a common EU approach. This is the key message of an own-initiative opinion adopted by the EESC on 30 October, which also calls on the European Commission to launch a comprehensive initiative to make the EU a global authority in this field.

EESC calls for a CAP that helps ensure generational renewal

Cooperation and partnership between the EU, national governments and civil society will be crucial to fostering generational renewal of the farming population.  "Generational renewal is a problem that goes far beyond a reduction in the average age of EU farmers. It is essentially a matter of rethinking the whole strategy so that younger people are attracted to the farming profession, thus revitalising the rural world".

European Semester: The 2020 cycle must focus on sustainable and inclusive growth

The EESC urges that in 2020, the coordination of economic policies across the Member States must lead to averting the risk of recession and steering the EU's economy towards a path of sustainable and inclusive growth. This should include increased reform efforts, investment, compliance with the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) as well as more structured civil society involvement in the European Semester process.

Rail should serve as a model for a smooth and inclusive transition to the digital age

In an own-initiative opinion adopted in October, the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) called for an inclusive sectoral transition to a digitalised rail sector and proposed a Commission-led initiative to raise the EUR 100 billion investment needed.

News from the Groups

Business can support sustainability

By the EESC's Employers Group

Sustainability is paramount for business and employers, who play a crucial role as drivers of development. A sound and solid economy is a necessary enabler of sustainable development. We need to identify solutions which are economically, socially and environmentally beneficial. While various stakeholders have much in common in their perceptions of sustainability, they often differ on how to get there.

Sustainability in the 2020 European Commission Work Programme

by the EESC's Workers Group

Digitalisation, climate change, demography and globalisation are the four issues dominating political priorities in the new term of the European Parliament and Commission. To tackle them a new, sustainable industrial model is needed that provides a fair transition towards a circular and green economy. Past experiences (such as the gilets jaunes) teach us that these urgently-needed measures will not gain popular support if they disregard workers and if they alone bear the burden.

New role models for societies in Europe

By the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

As gender equality is set as a priority of the President-Elect of the European Commission and the EU Directive on Work-Life Balance for Parents and Caregivers enters into the transposition phase, it is vital to review the interactions between gender equality, work-life balance, parenting, contemporary families, carers, assistance to disabled family members, ageing and demographics.

Soon in the EESC/Cultural events

Photography and film to end the EESC's 2019 cultural activities

A photo exhibition depicting one of Croatia's major industrial heritage sites and a thought-provoking film where different is the new normal will close the EESC's 2019 cultural programme.