As you may well be aware,  the European Economic and Social Committee  blew out the sixty candles on its birthday cake in May and proudly looked back at all of its achievements up to the present. Moreover, this date encouraged us to reflect upon the role and the future of the EESC and upon the place of civil society in the Europe of today and tomorrow, the Europe whose core values should be upheld and strengthened.

But the times we live in – fraught with uncertainties and challenges brought about by enormous social, economic and environmental changes – push the Committee not to sit on its laurels but rather to seize upon the new momentum.

On the very same day as its 60th anniversary celebration, which ended with a cultural evening in Albert Hall and showed the diversity of our cultural heritage which at the same time brings us together, the EESC held the 9th Civil Society Days on the subject of Citizenship, Democracy and Culture in a digitalised Europe. It was the first time for civil society organisations to join forces in a comprehensive debate about the complex issue of digitalisation.

Shortly afterwards, the EESC Civil Society Prize 2018 was launched. The EESC chose "Identities, European Values and Cultural Heritage in Europe" to be the theme of the tenth edition of its Prize. In December, it will be awarded to five civil society organisations and/or individuals who have made an outstanding and tangible contribution to the promotion of our shared European values by raising awareness about the richness of European identities, exploiting the full potential of Europe's cultural wealth or facilitating access to European cultural heritage.

I would also like to mention the first European Citizens' Panel, hosted by the EESC in early May. Its aim was to prepare a public consultation on the Future of Europe, in order to give a say to European citizens and take their opinions on board about important issues that may determine Europe's fate.  The consultation was initiated by the French President Emmanuel Macron and jointly organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the European Commission.

It is by these and other signature projects that the EESC will continue to confirm its valuable role in the EU, as a real focal point for dialogue, as the bridge between the European institutions and the grassroots organisations and citizens to whom the Committee gives a voice. And in this role, the EESC will continue to listen and speak out.

And a warm farewell to Peter Lindvald-Nielsen, Director of our Communication Department who has completed his duties and left on July 1. Thank you Peter for your excellent work!

I wish all of you a nice, relaxing summer break! We will be waiting for you in September – full of enthusiasm!

Isabel Caño Aguilar

Vice-President of the EESC for Communication