The European Commission makes an official request to the European Economic and Social Committee for an opinion on the "social pillar"

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I have just received a letter via the European institutions' internal mail system which I have read with great pleasure.

When I met the Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker on 4 February, I made it a point to tell him how concerned I was about the situation in the EU, and that I believed that if we wanted to save the European venture and its values of peace, decency, intelligence and generosity, we urgently needed to bring the EU closer to Europeans and show them, on a day to day basis, a reassuring, robust Union which was founded on solidarity, had good news and cared about them.

The Commission president assured me that I was not alone in this desire, and that the Commission was preparing a proposal for a European pillar of social rights which would be implemented in the euro area and which other Member States could join. Naturally, we discussed the possibility of consulting the Committee, which could provide strong support for such an initiative and make a key contribution to it.

The Commission president has kept his promise for which I would like to thank him, and has now referred the matter to the Committee. Living up to one's promises is clearly an important quality for men and women with great responsibilities, but promising without fear of committing oneself is no less so.

I am particularly pleased because the Commission president has not sent us a purely formal, coldly administrative request: he has stressed the pioneering work accomplished by the Committee when the future Charter of Fundamental Rights annexed to the Treaties was being prepared, and the importance of cooperating closely with it in the culture of dialogue and consultation with organised civil society and its representatives which must be upheld when European policies or decisions are being shaped or implemented.

I trust that the Committee will now live up to the standards it set with the Charter: I will propose to my colleagues that we throw ourselves in this work unstintingly and without delay.

I look forward to signing a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, a few months from now and on behalf of the Committee, with an opinion which will fully justify his faith in consulting the Committee and in emphasising the unique nature of this consultation, both because of the expertise which the Committee has always demonstrated and because the Treaties stipulate that the Committee should act in such situations.