Giulia Barbucci, EESC Vice-President for the Budget

The health crisis we are currently experiencing is unparalleled in European and world history: it is severely affecting the human race in all corners of the globe, bringing us face to face with the transient nature of our human lives. A microscopic organism has attacked us, but although we are not yet able to defeat it, we will.

For the first time in the thousands of years of our history, the human race finds itself forced to carry out many human and social activities without physical contact, without being in the same place, without direct human relationships. We have had to learn to live "virtually", something that will profoundly, anthropologically, change our way of being as people. The world is changing and consequently we have to change too: we have to learn to use digital instruments to connect in video meetings, we have to learn to communicate in a different way, without seeing each other physically at all or maintaining social distancing when we do; mobility is also changing and we are trying out new ways of getting around, such as scooters. These are only a few examples of how the change has become a major part of our lives.

Our generation's challenge is to tackle all these challenges and find solutions.

But in spite of everything, we are human beings, and we can adapt. We know that this is just an interlude in our long history and that, sooner or later, we will be able to return to our original nature as social animals.

In a way, it was sad to hold the Constitutive Plenary of the EESC for the new term of office remotely, a feeling that is probably shared by many. Without having the chance to meet in person and get to know the new members, to have a coffee together during the break or a glass of wine after a long working day, it is simply not the same. These are, in fact, important moments and social interactions in our working lives, vital for getting to know each other and exchanging views with the colleagues with whom we need to negotiate and find consensus in order to deliver our opinions.

We are aware that we have to postpone these activities for a while longer, but sooner or later we will resume being human beings in all senses of the word.