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. Our citizens have given us five years to build the Europe of tomorrow and we should not waste this opportunity.
The new Commission President's agenda for Europe, which has included the Green Deal as our new growth strategy for a sustainable Europe, gender equality and fundamental rights, closely reflects the priorities of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). Our house of European civil society firmly believes that it is high time that the EU embraces and implements an ambitious sustainable agenda. This will require a shift in our mindsets.
At its October plenary session, the EESC presented its contribution to the work programme of the European Commission for the next five years, pointing out that the EU must focus on climate change, digitalisation, the rule of law and globalisation, and must embrace a new system of governance, one that more closely involves civil society organisations.
The EESC advises the European Commission to structure its future work plan for 2020 and beyond around this pillar. The Committee also calls for an overarching EU 2050 strategy for sustainability, in order to implement the UN Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals - something that the European Union has committed to achieving by 2030.
We need to act at all levels simultaneously and create a dynamic of action to address urgent environmental, economic and social challenges. Implementing the Social Pillar for a fair and just transition is paramount. The Committee also stresses that a new EU governance structure, as well as new rules and instruments for drawing up and implementing EU policies, is crucial. In particular, the role of the European Parliament should be enhanced, in order to strengthen democratic accountability.
The goal of sustainability in all its dimensions calls for considerable effort and engagement by all the parties involved. Open democratic debate, underpinned by the structured involvement of civil society, is therefore vital in making the transition fair and effective.
We have also noted Ms von der Leyen's decision to launch a new push for European democracy through a Conference on the Future of Europe. Such a conference must be organised with the full involvement of the EESC, as the EU institution that is closest to the citizens and the most authentic embodiment of participatory democracy. Finally, I am delighted to see that culture is now recognised as the bridge between our past and future, and included with a new name in the portfolio of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel.
We are now, more than ever, committed to supporting a Union that strives for more.
As the new President said, let's get to work, TOGETHER!