The EESC president joined in the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Luxembourg Economic and Social Council (ESC), which were also attended by HRH Grand-Duke Henri, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Mars di Bartolomeo, and the Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel.
After thanking the Luxembourg members and their President, Pascale Toussing, for the excellent cooperation between the EESC and the Luxembourg ESC, in particular during the Luxembourg presidency, Mr Dassis gave a speech on the role of social and civil dialogue in European integration.
He began by stressing that social dialogue was fundamental if the European social model were to function properly and make progress and that it was crucial for bringing democratic governance closer to the public. Social dialogue was bipartite, between social partners, supplemented by tripartite coordination with the European institutions and political bodies and various forms of consultation at European and national levels. The social partners represented work-related interests and issues directly and it was essential that they be involved in policy design and implementation. Experience clearly showed that countries with strong social dialogue institutions were among the most effective economies of the European Union, with societies that were more resilient in times of crisis.
He then went on to touch upon civil dialogue and the EESC's role and special responsibility for bringing participatory democracy to life. The Committee's make-up and the role bestowed upon it by the treaties meant that it made sense for it to build up its role promoting participatory democracy and civil dialogue at EU level, in partnership with the other institutions.
Georges Dassis ended by inviting the Luxembourg members to contribute to the broad consultation on Living together in our societies, which would be the theme of the 2016 Civil Society Days. In this context, he mentioned the issue of the influx of refugees and that of migration - stressing the need to address these two concepts separately - and the current threats to achievements made under the Schengen Agreement, stating that "abolishing Schengen would be the beginning of the end" and that "the Union’s borders should be the Union's business".