Shortly after the beginning of his mandate as EESC President, Georges Dassis met with the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, on 20th October. Mr Dassis presented the EESC's recommendations for the Commission's 2016 annual Work Programme. Among others, these included accelerated economic integration and convergence, strengthening democracy in the EU, reinforcing the European social model, and establishing a new migration policy.
During the meeting, the EESC President covered the key areas for the Committee, namely the EESC contribution to the Commission's main priorities for 2016, his call for a number of modifications and his views on efforts to make the legislative process of the European Union more democratic and more transparent.
On the better legislation package, the EESC drew the attention of the Commission to the fact that its institutional role is clearly recognized in the interinstitutional agreement. As the institutional body established by the Treaties representing organized civil society, the Committee must be involved in the process through organizations that its Members represent and their networks - in ex-ante evaluations, consultations on the ground, by facilitating social and civil dialogue; and as a catalyst for exchanges with social partners, NGOs and citizens. The Committee's role in the REFIT platform needs to be re-evaluated, enabling civil society to participate in policy evaluation and act as a "safety net" against implementation obstacles of EU legislation or gaps.
The meeting takes place at a key moment before the adoption of the Commission's work programme scheduled for the end of October. Mr. Dassis first expressed the Committee's strong support for the EC's commitment to restore growth in Europe, thanks to the "Investment Plan for Europe". He then highlighted several of the key areas for action which should be prioritised or included in the Commission's annual work programme, namely:
• the strengthening of the European social model especially through the guarantee of social protection for all citizens and through the establishment of a basic set of social rights. President Dassis informed the Commission that the Committee is ready to make a contribution on this point;
• the definition of a new migration policy based on human rights, solidarity and humanity;
• a transparent and democratic process for better legislation.
On this occasion, President Dassis also suggested to the Commission to formally refer to the Committee for an exploratory opinion on the implementation of sustainable development goals; the Committee is ready to propose to the Commission the setting up, through a partnership, of a structured monitoring framework for sustainable development.