Speakers

Christa Schweng,
President, EESC

Christa Schweng was elected President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 28 October 2020 for a period of two and a half years, to run until March 2023. She has been an EESC member for 22 years, working as rapporteur for several opinions.

She is the outgoing president of the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship and chaired the Labour Market Observatory from 2013 to 2015.

Ms Schweng gained deep expertise in social and employment issues, working as an advisor both at EU level and in her native Austria. Outside the EESC, she works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.

She has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work since 1995 and has held every three years the rotating presidency of the Board of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work since 2001. She chaired the SMEunited Social Affairs Committee between 2001 and 2009.

Christa Schweng holds a master's degree in law from the University of Vienna.

Sarah Coupechoux, 
Responsible for Europe, Fondation Abbé Pierre in France

Sarah Coupechoux holds a master's degree in international law from the University of Paris 1 Sorbonne, and has been involved in the voluntary sector in France in the area of the right to housing for all since 2006. She joined the Abbé Pierre Foundation in 2009, where she first worked as a lawyer in charge of its litigation strategy in Paris. For the past three years, she has had responsibility for Europe within the research department and has overseen the production of the annual report entitled "Overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe" drawn up in partnership with FEANTSA.

Jeppe Mikél Jensen,
Chair of the new European Energy Poverty Observatory (Energy Poverty Advisory Hub)

Jeppe Mikél Jensen is Project Manager at Climate Alliance, a European network of more than 1800 local authorities. Having worked on strengthening local climate action in the EU UN contexts for over ten years, he has begun the development of the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub together with the EPAH consortium. With Jeppe’s background the focus will be on operationalizing the efforts from the former Energy Poverty Observatory to local actions on the ground in the new Energy Poverty Advisory Hub. Jeppe brings the experiences from his work with existing EU initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors and the Clean Energy for EU Islands.

Baiba Miltoviča,
President, TEN Section, EESC

Baiba Miltoviča has been appointed in 2020 President of the “Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and Information Society” Section (TEN) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). In her previous mandate at the EESC, Ms Miltoviča held a position as Vice-President of the Diversity Europe Group of the European Economic and Social Committee.

Ms Miltoviča is a member of the Consumer Policy Advisory Group established by the European Commission Directorate-General Justice and Consumers.

At the national level Baiba Miltoviča serves as the International and EU Affairs Adviser of the Latvian National Association for Consumer Protection (LPIAA, member of the European Consumer Organization, BEUC) and is Member of the Advisory Board of the Latvian Public Utilities Commission.

Thomas Pellerin-Carlin,
Director, Jacques Delors Energy Centre, Jacques Delors Institute

Thomas Pellerin-Carlin joins the Jacques Delors Institute in 2015. He is now the Director of the Jacques Delors Energy Centre and a Jacques Delors Institute research fellow.

His work focuses on the European Union energy policy, with a focus on innovation and climate change in the context of the European Green Deal. He also works on the Energy Union (with Jean-Arnold Vinois), the social dimension of the energy transition (with Sofia Fernandes), clean mobility (with Emilie Magdalinski) and on the Horizon 2020 REFEREE project on energy efficiency (with Emilie Magdalinski).

Thomas also teaches at the College of Europe Energy Union Training Programme, at Sciences Po, and at the Sorbonne. He is also a member of the Policy Advisory Council of the European University Institute’s Florence School of Regulation.

Before joining the Jacques Delors Institute, Thomas worked in Academia for the College of Europe, (Belgium, 2013-2015) as Academic Assistant and Research Assistant of its European Energy Policy Chair. Previously he worked in a consultancy (Europroject, Italy, 2010), the French Army, the French Administration (General Secretariat for European Affairs, 2012).

Thomas studied political science and holds a MA from the College of Europe’s Master in European Political and Administrative Studies, Bruges (2012-2013, Václav Havel Promotion) and an MA from Sciences-Po Lille (2007-2012, Promotion George Orwell).

Adela Tesarova, 
Head of Unit for Consumers, Local Initiatives, Just Transition, DG ENER

Adela Tesarova is the Head of Unit for Consumers, Local Initiatives, Just Transition in DG ENER. She is an economist, with experience in the European Commission working on energy, climate and environment policies as well as EU economic governance and taxation. She also worked in PwC Prague before joining the Commission.

Pierre Jean Coulon, 
Vice-President, TEN section, EESC

Pierre Jean Coulon is the co-founder of the European Energy Poverty Observatory and the former President of the United Nation Organisation NGO: "Right to Energy".

Rapporteur of "Energy Poverty in Europe".

Vice president of the World Order of International Experts.

After studying economics and journalism, and working for a local French newspaper, Mr Coulon joined a major international energy (electricity and gas) firm, where he rose through the ranks to become a senior international executive.

Alongside his career, Mr Coulon was very social engaged through his trade union work, heading the regional branch of the French Confederation of Christian Workers (CFTC), and later becoming president of the Energy Federation and special adviser for European and International Affairs at the CFTC.

Mr Coulon has been active in various bodies: as chair of the Family Allowance Office, a member of the employment tribunal (Conseil de Prud'hommes), member of the Economic and Social Council of his region, as well as chair of the regional Red Cross, where he worked with Michel Barnier, president of the Albertville Olympic Games, in 1992. Mr Coulon also served as deputy secretary on the European Works Councils (EWCs) of his firm.

His interest in energy and his social activism led to him co-found the NGO Right to Energy SOS Future, of which he later became president. Embracing some 250 organisations located in almost 60 countries, the organisation collaborates closely with the UN, where Mr Coulon was a member of the Commission for Sustainable Development for six years and took part in many summits and COPs, including the ones in Johannesburg, Rio, Copenhagen, Marrakesh and, of course, Paris in 2015.

During this period he set up the Order of International Experts (OMEI), based in Geneva, of which he is currently vice-president with responsibility for Europe.

Mr Coulon joined the European Economic and Social Committee in 2010 (after two years as an alternate), where he is a member of the TEN section (bureau member, vice-president, then president from 2015 to 2020) and the REX section (with a particular interest in the Western Balkans). He has been rapporteur for almost 25 opinions, including the opinion on energy poverty in 2012, which marked the Committee's first recognition of energy poverty as an important issue.

Jagoda Munić,
Director, Friends of the Earth Europe

Jagoda Munić is the Director of Friends of the Earth Europe since 2017. Previously she served as a Chairperson of the Friends of the Earth International (2012-2016), as a Treasurer (2007 – 2012) and a member of FOEI executive committee (2004, 2007-2017). She has degrees in Biology-Ecology (M.Sc.) and Library and Information Sciences (B.Sc.) from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and M.Sc. in Pollution and Environmental Control from the University of Manchester, UK.

She was engaged in Zelena akcija / FOE Croatia as a volunteer (1997 – 2000) and professionally (2000-2017), where she led quite a number of successful environmentally advocacy campaigns (against coal and hydro power plants, GMOs, for nature protection and sustainable project with local communities, against highway construction and land use change).

She was the President of FoE Croatia (2001-2007) and also led a number of regional projects in Balkans and Turkey focused on capacity building of environmental CSOs and regional networking.

Monique Goyens,
Director General, BEUC

Monique Goyens, as Director General of BEUC, represents 45 independent national consumer associations in 32 European countries, acting as a strong consumer voice in Brussels, ensuring that consumer interests are given weight in the development of policies and raising the visibility and effectiveness of the consumer movement through lobbying EU institutions and media contacts.

As a consumer expert and advocate, and on behalf of BEUC, Monique is a member of the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance and of the Euro Retail Payments Board. She is Vice-Chair of the European Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations. She is also a member of the Advisory Group on Noncommunicable Diseases of WHO-Region Europe. Since March 2021 she is a member of the Consumer Policy Advisory Group, DG Justice. Previously, she was a member of the expert group on “Online Disinformation” (2018), of the expert group on “trade agreements” (2018-2019), the EU High Level Forum for the Capital Market Union (2020) and sub-group on Artificial Intelligence, Connected Products and other new Challenges in Product Safety (2020).

In her capacity as BEUC Director General, Monique is currently EU co-chair of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) a network of EU and US consumer organisations, and she also represents BEUC at Consumers International, the international consumer organisation.

Apart from championing consumer’ rights, Monique’s passions/challenges are her family & cooking for friends.

Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu,
President, SOC Section, EESC

Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu has been President of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) since October 2020. He has been a member of the EESC and its Employers' Group since 2007. Mr Plosceanu is involved in activities across all sections of the EESC, and is currently also the EU Chair of the EU-Serbia Joint Consultative Committee. Moreover, since 2016 Mr Plosceanu has been Vice-president of the Romanian Industrialists General Union. Since 2007, he has been President of the Romanian Association of Building Contractors, which is a member of the European Federation of Construction Industries.

Other past professional experiences include the position of CEO at ABC Asigurari Reasigurari SA from 2000 to 2007, President of the Social House of Building Workers from 1999 to 2016, member of the Board of the Bucharest Construction Technical University and member of the Romanian Economic and Social Council (both from 2007 to 2011), President of the Romanian Association of SMEs in Insurance from 2005 to 2007 and Co-president of the Romanian Alliance of Employers Confederations from 2007 to 2013.

Mr Plosceanu has been also involved in multiple social projects in the construction field in Romania, for example, in negotiating and signing the first Social Accord for the Romanian Construction Sector in 2006 and the most recent one, signed in 2012.

Mr Plosceanu studied at Bucharest Construction Institute and obtained an Executive MBA from the National Institute for Economic Development. In addition, Mr Plosceanu studied at the Law Faculty of the "Nicolae Titulescu" University Bucharest. Mr Plosceanu also completed post-university studies at the National Defence College.

Helder Ferreira,
Director, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)

Helder Ferreira has an experience in working in the field of poverty and social exclusion in different positions – researcher, staff, and coordinator of departments and organizations in the not-for-profit sector – and at different levels – local, metropolitan, national and European -, between 1997-2014. During this period, he developed work at local, national (EAPN PT) and European structures of EAPN, notably in the latter within the Employment Working Group (EWG) and the EU Inclusion Strategies Group (EUISG). In more recent years he has worked as a lecturer in Tertiary Education Organisations.

Freek Spinnewijn,
Director, European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA)

Freek Spinnewijn is director of FEANTSA.  FEANTSA is the European umbrella of NGOs working with homeless people. FEANTSA has member organisation in 30 European countries. Freek studied Medieval History and European Law and Policy at the University of Leuven (BE).  After some short work placements at the UN in Geneva and the EU in Brussels, he became director of EPSO, a European network of seniors’ organisations. In 2001, Freek took up his current position of director of FEANTSA.  Freek is vice-president of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and sits on board of several European organisations such as the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) and Social Services Europe.

Barbara Kauffmann,
Director for Employment and Social Governance, DG EMPL, European Commission

Barbara Kauffmann is Director for employment and social governance at the European Commission (DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) since 2015. Her current responsibilities include analysis and the coordination of EU country surveillance in employment and social matters (European Semester, European Pillar of Social Rights), Social Dialogue as well as the EU legislative initiatives including on minimum wages. She is also in charge of the support of Greece and Cyprus notably through the European Social Fund. Barbara Kauffmann studied economics at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Florida (Ph.D.). After working at the Kiel Institute of World Economics and the German Ministry of Finance, she joined the Commission (DG for Economic and Financial Affairs), where she worked for over 20 years (macro programmes, coordination of EU economic and fiscal policy surveillance, etc.).

Lutz Ribbe,
Member, EESC

Lutz Ribbe is an EESC Member of Diversity Europe Group (Group III); member of the Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society and of the Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment.

Director of the Department for Nature Conservation Policy at the environmental foundation EuroNatur.

Lutz Ribbe has been a German member of the European Economic and Social Committee for more than 20 years. His work at the Committee focuses on energy policy and environmental issues. In recent years, he has taken a special interest in the transition towards a sustainable, decentralised energy supply structure in Europe and the central role citizens and local communities should play in this process. His work in Brussels draws on his distinguished career in leading German environmental non-government organisations (EuroNatur, BUND) and his hands-on experience as an advisor and developer of local energy transition projects in different EU Member states. He is also the author of more than 200 publications in the field of energy and environment, including the co-authoring of four monographs.

Jean Luc Alluard,
Director for CSR and Sustainable Development, Regional Direction of Pays de la Loire, ENEDIS-EDF

Jean Luc Alluard has been an industrial design engineer since 1986 and he became director of Enedis in Mayenne in 2012. During his time in this role, he had the opportunity to work on youth integration and most notably, he was involved in creating a "second chance" school in Laval. He also became the vice-president of the local mission in Mayenne. Since then, he has held the positions of vice-president of the Loire Counties Regional Association of Local Missions and director of the National Union of Local Missions. As he was keen to work on inclusion with people experiencing the greatest difficulties in finding a job, Jean-Luc Alluard rolled out a mechanism for detecting "invisible" energy poverty. This scheme, named AGIR, was the subject of two pilot projects in Mayenne. It has now been selected by a number of local authorities and ombudsman associations in France. His work on integrating people in difficulty has led to him being awarded membership of the National Order of Merit (second national order).

Peter Schmidt, 
President, NAT Section, EESC

Peter Schmidt is the President of the NAT Section since 2020 and a member of the EESC since 2014 for Group II (Workers). From 2015 to March 2018, he was the President of the Permanent Study Group on Sustainable Food Systems and from 2018 to 2020 he was the President of the Sustainable Development Observatory. Peter Schmidt was also one of the three EESC members steering the work of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, a joint initiative by the EESC and the European Commission.

His first occupation was cheesemaker. Later on, he has been a regional officer of the NGG trade union (Food and Catering Union, affiliated to the DGB) for 27 years, in charge of dairy industries and bakeries.

Kadri Simson, 
Commissioner for Energy, European Commission

Kadri Simson is an Estonian politician from the Centre Party. She is serving as a European Commissioner for Energy in the Von der Leyen Commission since 1 December 2019.

She was previously the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in Jüri Ratas' first cabinet from 2016 to 2019. During the Estonian Presidency in the Council of the EU, Kadri Simson chaired both energy ministers and transport ministers meetings in TTE Council and ministers of economy format in EU Competitiveness Council.

From 2007–2016 Kadri Simson was a member of the 11th, 12th, and 13th Riigikogu and in 2019 she was also elected to the 14th Riigikogu. She holds a Master's degree in Political Science from University College London.

Emmanuelle Wargon, 
French Minister Delegate for Housing, attached to the Minister for Ecological Transition

Emmanuelle Wargon (née Stoléru), born on 24 February 1971 in Neuilly-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine), French senior civil servant and politician.

Ms Wargon began her professional career in 1997 as an auditor at the French Court of Audit, before becoming a rapporteur to the ethics commission in 1999.

Having been appointed in 2001 as a technical advisor to Bernard Kouchner, Minister Delegate for Health, she joined the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products as deputy director-general in 2002.

She became an advisor at the Court of Audit in 2005 and, in 2006, she took up the position of deputy director in charge of coordination and internal control at Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP).

From 2007 to 2010, she was the chief of staff of Martin Hirsch's cabinet, then the High Commissioner for Active Solidarity against Poverty in François Fillon's Government. Next, she served as secretary-general of the social affairs ministries (health, work, sport) until 2012. From 2012 to 2015, she was the delegate general for employment and vocational training at the Ministry of Labour.

She left public service in 2015 to join the Danone Group as director of communication and public affairs.

On 16 October 2018, after the reshuffle of the second Philippe government, she was appointed as Secretary of State for Ecology to the Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition. She replaced Sébastien Lecornu who was promoted to Minister for Local Authorities and put in charge of energy issues in particular.

On 14 January 2019, she was appointed together with Sébastien Lecornu to lead the "great national debate", which was organised to find a way out of the crisis brought about by the yellow vests movement.

On 6 July 2020, she was promoted to Minister Delegate for Housing attached to Barbara Pompili, the Minister for the Ecological Transition in Jean Castex's government.

Knight of the National Order of Merit (2015)

Blaž Košorok, 
Slovenian State Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure

Blaž Košorok graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana. After completing his studies, he was employed by the Korošok law firm as a trainee lawyer. He worked predominantly in the field of commercial law, mainly dealing with foreign corporations.

In 2005, he accepted the invitation of the TE-TOL d.o.o. supervisory board to assume the management of the company, first as acting managing director and later as managing director for a full 5-year term of office. He was a member of management boards of professional associations in the energy industry and a member of supervisory boards of the companies Slovenske Železnice, Hidroelektrarne na spodnji Savi d.o.o. and Ljubljana Opera and Ballet from 2007 to 2009. In autumn 2012, he was appointed Director-General of the company Holding Slovenske elektrarne d.o.o. (HSE Company).

He continued his career as COO of Akrapovič d.d. at the invitation of Igor Akrapovič. After his departure from Akrapovič d.d., he worked as a legal adviser for the Swiss company Energygor AG. Since the beginning of 2020 he has been employed at ELES d.o.o.

Ville Niinistö,
Member, European Parliament

Ville Niinistö is a Member of the European Parliament. He is the Greens/EFA groups coordinator in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and a member of the Committee on Environment.

Niinistö served as Finland's Minister of the Environment from 2011 to 2014. Niinistö is a former member of the Finnish parliament, former party leader of the Green Party of Finland and a current member of the city council of Turku.

Niinistö has a master's degree in political science from the University of Turku. Before being elected to the parliament in 2007 he worked as a doctorate student in political history (Finnish foreign policy) at the University of Turku in Finland.

Moritz Schleicher
Board Member, JEF Europe and Generation Climate Europe

Moritz Schleicher is a Board Member Generation Climate Europe (GCE), the largest coalition of youth-led networks at the European level, pushing for stronger action from the EU on climate and environmental issues. GCE brings together 460 national organisations across 47 countries in Europe, guided by the voices of 20 million young Europeans and aims to empower young people to meaningfully engage in EU decision-making processes on climate, environmental and sustainability issues.

He is engaged in European Politics since 2013 within the transpartisan, international youth organisation Young European Federalists (JEF Europe), currently as a Board Member on the European level. In this role, he works on European Civic Education, Digitalisation as well as Climate & Environmental policy and represents JEF in GCE.

Outside of politics he is a Master student in Simulation Technology with a focus on Physics at the University of Stuttgart and previous visits to Strasbourg and Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Cillian Lohan,
Vice-President in charge of Communication, EESC

Cillian Lohan has been vice-president for Communication of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) since October 2020, and an active member of the institution since 2015.

He has worked extensively in the corporate and environmental sectors.

He is a leader in the field of the Circular Economy and was the inaugural chair of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, which he helped to establish. Cillian has extensive experience as a delegate to the United Nations, working on initiatives such as the COP climate negotiations and the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

As CEO of the Green Economy Foundation, he has overseen ambitious projects including the planting of over one million trees in Ireland and the establishment of a wildlife reserve in Tobago.

Cillian graduated from University College Cork and the University of Ulster with a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Science.

Stefano Mallia,
President, Employers' Group (Group I), EESC

Stefano Mallia has been elected President of the EESC Employers' Group in 2020 and has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2010. He served in different roles at the EESC before, e.g. as Vice-President of the Employers' Group and President of the Brexit follow-up Committee within the EESC.

Mr Mallia is an expert in EU affairs where he has specialised in EU Structural Funds and SME financing.  Over the years he has carried out assignments for the European Commission, the Government of Malta as well as private enterprises. He is also a former President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

Furthermore, Mr Mallia is active in the private sector. Since 1998, he is a partner at EMCS Ltd., an economic analysis and business consultancy.

Oliver Röpke,
President, Workers' Group (Group II), EESC

Oliver Röpke has been the president of the EESC Workers’ Group since March 2019 and an EESC member since 2009. Currently sitting in the Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) and Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT) sections, he has been rapporteur of several opinions. He has also been a member of the EESC Bureau and a president of the Permanent Study Group of Social Economy Enterprises. Mr Röpke has been the head of the Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) since 2008, a member of the federal executive board, ÖGB representative in the ETUC and a member of the Social Dialogue Committee. He holds a degree in law from the University of Vienna.

Séamus Boland,
President, Diversity Europe Group (Group III), EESC

Séamus Boland has been a Member of the EESC since 2011. He was elected President of the Diversity Europe Group in October 2020. He is Chief Executive Officer of Irish Rural Link and Member of the Community and Voluntary Pillar. He is chairperson of Pobal, an organisation committed to community support and development. r Séamus Boland is also chair of the Irish Peatlands Council. Its role is to achieve the objectives set out by the EU Habitat's Directive which requires Ireland to protect and conserve important Peat-lands habitats. He previously worked with young people and people with disability. He holds a degree in Community and Rural Development and was educated as a Speech and Drama Teacher.