The President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Georges Dassis, and the President of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council, Patrick Bernasconi, met in Brussels on 17 January to present an initial assessment of the enhanced cooperation between the institutions they head and to explore possibilities for further joint activities in the future.
The European Economic and Social Committee and its French counterpart plan to pursue their joint efforts to boost the voice of civil society on key social issues directly affecting European citizens.
"Civil society organisations and the Economic and Social Councils, where they are represented, play a crucial role. Their work should be better taken into account by the institutions with decision-making power in order to refocus the European project on the real concerns of citizens and businesses. This partnership gives us a greater critical mass to voice concerns and make a difference", said Mr Dassis at the meeting.
Mr Bernasconi, for his part, stated that: "I am very pleased about the partnership that France has succeeded in forming, via its Council, with the European Economic and Social Committee – a partnership that will enable us, together, to uphold the values of what we represent, that is to say, of organised civil society and intermediary bodies. There is a need for a place where these intermediary bodies can come together and hold discussions – it is a wonderful democratic tool. It is important that these places can operate to their full potential, responsibly, whether it be here at the European level in Brussels, or in France."
Since signing their partnership agreement, which entered into force on 1 July 2017, the two presidents have carried out a number of joint activities, which have highlighted their converging positions on two highly topical European issues.
On the question of the posting of workers, they have echoed the convictions expressed by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, stressing the need to avoid a race to the bottom on workers' conditions in Europe at all costs.
As regards climate change, the two institutions have advocated the need for climate justice, encouraging the EU institutions and national governments to adopt measures that protect the most vulnerable and poorest sections of society, who are often those most affected by the impact of climate change despite being those least responsible for the emissions that cause it.
During his visit to Brussels, Mr Bernasconi, who was accompanied by the Vice-President of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council, Bruno Genty, also took part in the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee, which welcomed Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, as well as agronomist and economist Pierre Larrouturou, and Jean Jouzel, climatologist and member of the French ESEC, for a debate on financing the fight against climate change.
For more information on these joint activities: