The president vows to make the European Economic and Social Committee a true civil society gateway and open its doors to the EU accession countries. In the run-up to the 2024 European elections, the Committee will take on a more active role to stand up for democracy and strive for a more resilient, prosperous and inclusive Europe.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has elected Austria's Oliver Röpke as the 34th president in its 65-year history. Former head of the Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) and the most recent president of the EESC Workers' Group, Mr Röpke will lead the EU body representing organised civil society for the next two and a half years.
Joining him at the helm of the EESC are Polish member Krzysztof Pater, as vice-president for the budget, and Romanian member Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu, as vice-president for communication. With the EESC presidency changing halfway through the term of office, Mr Röpke takes over from his fellow Austrian, Christa Schweng, who led the EESC through the first half of its 2020–2025 mandate.
Political manifesto of president Röpke
An advocate for workers' rights, Mr Röpke is determined to consolidate the EESC's role as a forum for dialogue between a wide range of actors, playing a key part in shaping EU policies and restoring citizens' trust in the EU project.
"In these testing times, the support of civil society in gathering the voices of European citizens is key to building democratic resilience and shaping the future of Europe. Over the next term, I will step up the unique role of EESC as an interface between citizens, civil society and EU institutions, acting as a true platform for honest and inclusive debate. I will reach out to our partners in the Western Balkans and Eastern neighborhood to foster closer cooperation and engage with youth to make sure we are building the future they want to live in – inclusive, prosperous and democratic", the president said.
For his presidency, Mr Röpke has chosen the motto Stand up for democracy, speak up for Europe. The four pillars of his programme – the Manifesto - embody his vision of a more social, representative and inclusive Europe which also reaches out to its neighbours to help them pave the way towards a more stable and peaceful future. The pillars are:
- standing up for democracy at home;
- standing up for democracy abroad;
- speaking up for Europe by making the EESC more representative; and
- speaking up for Europe by strengthening the quality of the EESC's outreach and its forward-looking work.
The Manifesto includes a list of actions that the new president intends to implement during his mandate. Among others, the actions include:
- appointing Honorary Enlargement Members from EU accession countries to involve them in the daily advisory work of the Committee;
- a robust participation of the EESC in campaigns and activities to increase voter participation in the 2024 European elections;
- greater involvement of citizens in the EU project, in particular youth, through citizen panels, implementation of the EU Youth Test in EESC opinions and establishment of a Youth Advisors' Council to the President;
- boosting of gender balance in EESC's own ranks and of transparency by taking part in the EU transparency register and supporting the EU ethics body;
- embedding a foresight dimension and developing a forward-looking perspective to EESC work;
- institutional reform in order to strengthen the EESC's voice and prepare it for a greater role if the EU Treaties are revised.
The new EESC president is also adamant that the EU must focus on driving forward its social agenda and safeguarding sustainable competitiveness, pushing for social inclusion and greater social and economic equality.
Mr Röpke will present the programme during his speech at the inaugural plenary session on 26 April. It can be followed here.
- Oliver Röpke (AT): EESC president, president of the EESC's Workers' Group from 2019 to 2023, Workers' Group – president's webpage
- Krysztof Pater (PL): vice-president of the EESC, president of the Labour Market Observatory (LMO) from 2010 to 2013 and 2018 to 2020, Civil Society Organisations' Group – vice-president's webpage (budget)
- Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu (RO): vice-president of the EESC, president of the EESC Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship and EU chair of the EU-Serbia Joint Consultative Committee (2020-2023), Employers' Group – vice-president's webpage (communication)
- 2023–2025 Manifesto, "Stand up for democracy, Speak up for Europe", Oliver Röpke, president of the EESC
- The president and two vice-presidents are elected by a simple majority during the inaugural session of the assembly. They are chosen from each of the EESC's three groups (Employers' Group, Workers' Group and Civil Society Organisations' Group) in turn for two‑and‑a‑half‑year terms. This means that two elections are held during each EESC term of office – at the beginning and halfway through. The president is responsible for the orderly conduct of the Committee's business and represents the EESC in its relations with other institutions and bodies. The two vice-presidents – elected from the two groups to which the president does not belong – are responsible for communication and the budget respectively.
- The EESC is made up of 329 members from its 27 Member States. They are nominated by their national governments and appointed by the Council of the European Union for a period of five years. They then work independently in the interests of all EU citizens. These members are not politicians but employers, trade unionists and representatives of various sectors of society, such as farming, consumer and environmental organisations, the social economy, SMEs, professionals, and associations representing persons with disabilities, the voluntary sector, gender equality, youth, academia, and so on.