By the EESC Workers' Group
The preservation of workers' rights must be a top priority in any recovery and reconstruction plan in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, with solidarity as its guiding principle. To distil this into concrete priorities and actions, the Workers' Group organised an extraordinary meeting on 24 November.
On the agenda, the enormous challenges that Europe is facing, and the solutions to overcome them that would place the creation and safeguarding of quality employment, workers' protection and social recovery on an equal footing with economic concerns, with a view to achieving a new sustainable social, environmental and economic model.
The issues discussed that will help update and shape the Group priorities, for the next five years and beyond, touched upon crucial issues of concern for the EU and its citizens, such as growing poverty and inequality, working conditions and industrial relations, social dialogue, sustainability, fair transition and others.
Several key figures were invited to discuss with the Workers' Group members the social, economic and environmental challenges for the future of Europe. Following a debate on the social challenges with Oliver Röpke, President of the Workers' Group, and Cinzia del Rio, Vice-President of the EESC's section on social affairs, Ana Mendes Godinho, Portuguese Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, presented the Portuguese presidency's priorities.
Euractiv Journalist Jorge Valero moderated the afternoon session. The panel on the economic challenges in Europe was led by Stefano Palmieri, President of the EESC's section on economic affairs. The debate was enriched with the intervention of keynote speakers Jonás Fernández, S&D Coordinator, Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and Prof. Colin Crouch, Professor Emeritus of the University of Warwick.
The final debate on the subject of environmental challenges and the Green Deal was introduced by Peter Schmidt, president of the EESC's section on agriculture, with interventions by Commissioner Frans Timmermans in charge of the Green Deal and Lucie Studničná, Vice-president of the Workers' Group.