Speakers of the Civil Society Days 2021

Christa SCHWENG,
President of the European Economic and Social Committee

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 since 1998. Within the EESC, her work has focused on employment and social affairs.

Between 2018 and 2020, she was President of the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC). From 2013 to 2015, she chaired the work of the Labour Market Observatory (LMO).

Outside the EESC, she works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ). Since 1994, she has been a senior advisor to WKÖ's Social Policy Department.

Since 1995, she has been a Member of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work (a body that assists the European Commission in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of activities in the field of occupational safety and health).

Also since 1995, she has been a member of the management board of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, based in Bilbao, and since 2001 the employers' spokesperson within the agency. Since 2001, she has held the rotating presidency of the Board every three years.

For the last 25 years, she has been a Member of SMEunited Social Affairs Committee (which she chaired between 2001 and 2009).

She holds a Masters’ Degree in Law from the University of Vienna.

She speaks fluent German, English and French, and can also communicate in Spanish.

She has been a rapporteur and co-rapporteur for numerous EESC opinions, such as

Cillian LOHAN,
Vice-President of the EESC in charge of communication

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 Circular Economy field 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.

Brikena XHOMAQI,
Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP)

Brikena Xhomaqi is the current Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform (European Civil Society for Education). She graduated in Innovative Project Management at the Polytechnic University of Nice Sophia Antipolis and holds a professional Master Degree in Corporate Strategy and International Development and bachelor in Political Sciences. Originally from Albania, she has studied and lived in Italy, France and currently Belgium for the last fourteen years. She is the former Head of Office of the European Students’ Union (ESU) and Director of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). She was elected student representative in Italy, France and at European level. She has been the research team member and manager of multiple EU projects for both ESN, ESU, Uniplaces, The Class of 2020, InternsGoPro and EUA related to learning mobility, financing of education, employability among others. She has an experience of more than 10 years in education and non-profit sector  at local, national and European level. Passionate about education, institutional cooperation, civil society and mobility. In her free time she volunteers for the Project Management Institute, Konitza culture association and EU Policy Hub Albania.

Dubravka ŠUICA,
European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography

Dubravka Šuica is a Croatian politician from the city of Dubrovnik, where she served two terms as its first female mayor. In 2006 she was awarded the World Mayor Award.

Mrs Šuica holds a Degree in English and German from Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She and started her career in education: first as a teacher and later as the Director of the Dubrovnik High School.

She entered politics in the 1990s as a Member of the Croatian Democratic Union and served three terms as a Member of Croatian Parliament and Vice-Chair of the EU Integration Committee. Between 2004 and 2009 Dubravka Šuica was a Board Member of the Union of the Association of Towns and Municipalities of the Republic of Croatia, and later served as Councillor of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Assembly. During ten years she was President of the Croatian Delegation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

From 2013 to 2019 Dubravka Šuica served as a Member of the European Parliament, responsible for issues related to environment, public health and food safety as well as foreign affairs. She was the head of Croatian EPP delegation in the European parliament. In June 2019, Šuica was elected as first Vice-Chair of EPP Group in the European Parliament.

Since December 2019, Dubravka Šuica is Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography.

Kadri Simson,
European Commissioner for Energy

Kadri Simson has been the European Commissioner for Energy since 2019. She has previously been a member of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), chair of the Estonian Centre Party's parliamentary party and leader of Estonia's NATO Parliamentary Assembly Delegation, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in the Estonian government, and secretary-general of the Estonian Centre Party. Prior to that, she also worked as a research assistant at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and an advisor to the mayor of Tallinn and Tallinn City Council.

Miguel Filipe Pardal Cabrita
Secretary of State for Labour, Vocational Training and Deputy to the Minister

Miguel Filipe Pardal Cabrita is Secretary of State for Labour, Vocational Training and Deputy to the Minister
Sociologist and university lecturer at ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, where he has taught since 2001 at the School of Sociology and Public Policy. Lecturer on courses such as State and Public Policy, Social Policy and Contemporary Sociological Theories. PhD thesis research on personal decisions about having children.
He has also participated in several research projects and publications in different fields of sociology and public policy, namely: social policy, labour market, reconciling work and family life, employment and fertility.
He served as policy adviser at the Cabinets of the Secretary of State for Employment and Training and Minister of Labour and Solidarity (from 2000 to 2002). He was also an advisor at Cabinet of the Minister of Labour and Social Solidarity (2005-2009), where he took over the coordination of the EU Portuguese Presidency (2nd semester 2007) for the Employment and Social Affairs field.
President of the Municipal Assembly of Odivelas, elected in 2013. Member of the Socialist Party National Commission.
Secretary of State for Employment of the XXIst Constitutional Government of Portugal between November 2015 and October 2019
Secretary of State for Labour and Vocational Training of the XXII Constitutional Government of Portugal since October 26, 2019.


MEP,  member of the European Parliament Intergroup for the Social Economy and of the EP Intergroup on the Digital Agenda

Brando Benifei is an Italian politician who has been an MEP since 2014. He was re-elected in 2019. During his first term from 2014 until 2019, Mr Benifei served on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. In 2019, he moved to the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. In 2020, he also joined the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age. In addition to his committee assignments, Mr Benifei is a member of the European Parliament Intergroup for the Social Economy as well as the European Parliament Intergroup on the Digital Agenda, the European Parliament Intergroup on Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas, the European Parliament Intergroup on Cancer, the MEP Alliance for Mental Health, the European Parliament Intergroup on Disability, the MEPs Against Cancer group, and UNITE – a parliamentary network to end HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

Daniel Freund, 
Member of the European Parliament

Daniel Freund has been a Member of the European Parliament for the Greens since 2019. His main issues are transparency, democracy, the fight against corruption and the future of the EU. He is a member of the Constitutional and Budgetary Control Committee. He leads the Greens’ work on the conference on the future of the EU, he is a negotiator on the independent ethics authority and chairs the cross-party working group against corruption. Before he was elected to the European Parliament, he led the European work of Transparency International for five years. He studied politics, economics and law in Leipzig, Paris and Washington. He holds a Master’s degree in “Affaires Publiques” from Sciences Po Paris.

Sandro GOZI,
Member of the European Parliament Renew Europe Group

Sandro Gozi was elected Member of the European Parliament in 2019 in the Renew Europe Group, where he is a member of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection. He is also President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and Secretary General of the European Democratic Party (EDP). He is a former Italian Secretary of State for European Affairs (2014-2018) and was subsequently appointed as an advisor to the former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in 2019.

Alicia HOMS

Member of the European Parliament; member of the Social Economy Intergroup

Originally from Palma de Mallorca, Alicia Homs holds a degree in Political Science and Public Management from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Civil Service from the Barcelona Centre for International Studies. After graduating, Ms Homs worked as technical advisor to the Regional Ministry of Labour of the Balearic Islands. She was elected MEP in 2019. In addition to her committee work, she is part of the European Parliament Intergroup on Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas. In August 2019, she was elected president of the Young European Socialists (YES), one of the most important political youth organisations in Europe. In addition, she is a member of the PSOE and the Socialist Youth of the Balearic Islands. As an MEP, she is a full member of the EMPL Committee (Employment and Social Affairs), which works on European policies relating to employment, social services, youth and disability, and an alternate member of the ITRE Committee (Industry, Research and Energy). Furthermore, she is a full member of the delegation for Central America (DCAM) and the delegation for the Euro-Latin American Assembly (DLAT), and alternate in the delegation for the Maghreb (DMAG). Finally, she is Vice-President of the SEArica intergroup, which works for the interests of island and coastal regions.


MEP and member of the Committee on Civil Liberties

Alice Bah Kuhnke is a member of the European Parliament from Sweden and vice-chair of the Greens/EFA party group. She is a full member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, coordinator for the Greens/EFA in the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, and co-chair of the European Parliament's Intergroup on the Green New Deal. Before she came to the European Parliament, she was Minister for Culture and Democracy in the Swedish government. Ms Bah Kuhnke has been vocal on issues related to gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights, refugee rights and poverty during her time as a politician. Her work in the European Parliament currently focuses on the intersection between climate, gender and social issues, also known as climate justice.

Marcos ROS,
Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group

Marcos Ros is a Spanish Member of the European Parliament, in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and full member of the Committee on Culture and Education and Committee on Regional Development. He is professor on leave of absence in urban planning at the Cartagena School of Architecture. He has been the shadow rapporteur for the European Parliament report on the European Education Area, co-rapporteur of the New European Bauhaus report and shadow rapporteur for the next revision of the Energy Efficiency for Building Directive. Also, he is a very active member in matters relating to education, universities and Erasmus and Buildings matters.

Co-founder and worker-owner of TAZEBAEZ cooperative

Ana Aguirre is co-founder of TAZEBAEZ S.Coop. TAZEBAEZ is an innovation group that works mainly in the field of consultancy in four different knowledge areas: visual communication, education, space and experience design, and business development. During this time, she has led projects in several areas, from education to business consulting, an area that she led until 2018. She also served on the board between 2014 and 2016. As a cooperative group, TAZEBAEZ are strong believers and supporters of the cooperative model and IMs. Ms Aguirre has been responsible for representativeness in this part of the company both locally and internationally. That is why she was part of the founding team of the Young European Co-operators' Network in 2015 where she served on the board from its creation until today, and was appointed as representative and VP of the region of Europe in the International Cooperative Alliance Youth Network. She is also part of the Global Shapers community, the youth network of the World Economic Forum, in the Bilbao hub where she was the vice-curator for the year 2019-2020, and the incoming curator for 2020-2021.

Jean-Louis BANCEL,
President of Cooperatives Europe

Jean-Louis Bancel was born on 20 January 1955, and graduated from HEC (1978) with a degree in business law, and holds a DESS in public law, ENA (1980-1982). He was Chair of Crédit Coopératif from 2009 to 2020 (Vice-Chair from 2005 to 2009), and as such, Chair of BTP Banque. He is also Honorary Chair of Crédit Coopératif. In addition, he is Chair of Coop Fr, the National Federation of Cooperative Enterprises, and sits on the Conseil Supérieur de la Coopération and the Conseil Supérieur de l'économie sociale et solidaire. He is President of Cooperatives Europe, the European association of cooperatives and Vice-President of the International Cooperative Alliance. Jean-Louis Bancel has, among other things, worked in the Insurance Department at the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and the Budget (1983-86). He also served as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State for Consumer Affairs, Véronique Neiertz. He was Head of the Sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean Franc Zone Office at the Treasury Department of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Budget (1991-1993). He worked for more than 10 years in the mutual insurance sector as General Secretary of the Groupement des entreprises mutuelles d'assurance (Gema) from 1993 to 1997, then as Managing Director of the Fédération Nationale de la Mutualité Française from 1997 to 2004. He was Chair of Icmif (International Federation of Mutuals and Insurance Companies) and Vice-President of Matmut. He is currently Chair of the Mutuelle Centrale des Finances.

Tatjana Babrauskiene,
EESC Member

Tatjana Babrauskiene is working and representing trade unions in the field of vocational education and training and adult learning from 2004. At national level, she is the coordinator for three Lithuanian trade union confederations (VET, CVET and REFERNET) where one of her key tasks is to assess the union’s progress in daily operations at national level and in the international projects they participate in.

At the European level, Tatjana has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) since 2015; she joined the European social dialogue much earlier though when Lithuania became member of the European Union on 1 May 2004.

She has a long experience in advocating for adult education at the European level, including as a member of the European Commission advisory committee on vocational education (ACVT). In 2010, when the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education was established, she was appointed as the Lithuanian delegate of the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ESSDE). She is also an expert of the European trade union confederation (ETUC) and the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE).

Chloé Bourguignon,
Board member of Generation Climate Europe

Chloé Bourguignon is a French trade unionist and activist, with a double Master's degree in Public and International Affairs from Sciences Po Strasbourg and York University in Toronto. In the past ten years, she has been active both in the French trade union UNSA and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and in NGOs such as Oxfam France. Chloé became involved in climate issues in 2015 while preparing COP21, and is in charge of sustainable development and climate topics for the ETUC Youth committee bureau. Today, she also brings her expertise as board member of Generation Climate Europe, a coalition of nine youth-led European organisations, representing 20 million young people - members of more than 460 national organisations from all over Europe.

Ann Branch,
Head of Unit for Job Creation at the European Commission, DG EMPL

Ann Branch leads the team in DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, which is responsible for the follow-up to the EU's Social Business Initiative, including developing policy and financial instruments to support social enterprises, and entrepreneurship opportunities for under-represented and vulnerable groups, including EU micro-finance instruments. She has many years of experience working in the EU institutions and since 2008 has held several managerial positions in the European Commission. She has previously worked on EU policies and funding programmes relating to employment, social dialogue and industrial relations, education and training and the cultural and creative sectors, including the European Capitals of Culture, the Creative Europe and Erasmus+ programmes. She grew up in London in an Anglo-Finnish household.

Emmanuelle CAUSSE,
Secretary-general of the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI).

Emmanuelle is secretary-general of the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI). Emmanuelle has been Director of UIPI since 2009, when she established the UIPI's representation in Brussels. Her role is to lead the Brussels office, represent the UIPI towards the EU institutions, and both develop and defend the organisation's positions on all EU topics of relevance to private property owners. Emmanuelle started her career in EU affairs in 2001, working for various organisations including the European Parliament, a well-known European think tank, the Ile-de-France region's representation in Brussels and a broad European umbrella association. She was also a researcher on EU policy at the Austrian Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS).

Gabriella Civico,
Director CEV

Gabriella Civico is from the UK, but lived in Spain and Portugal for many years before moving to Belgium and becoming a Belgian citizen. She has a degree in Social Policy and Education from the University of Surrey (UK), and a Masters in Education in E-learning from the University of Hull (UK).Her professional background mainly lies in business and the Youth NGO Sector, where she has worked as an administrator, a trainer, and an expert. Gabriella has volunteered since childhood in a variety of fields, including youth advocacy, international development, disability, environment, migration, human rights and sports. Through her work in the youth field, she was involved in the campaign to establish 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering. She worked with CEV in her role as Project Manager for the EYV2011 Alliance from July 2010 until the project’s completion in March 2012, when she became CEV Director. Her current role as CEV Director involves managing the network of over 60 member organisations, facilitating their sharing and learning together on volunteering and solidarity issues. She takes a leading role in advocating for better volunteering policies, contributing her expertise on the topic at the European level in various European Union expert & advisory groups, such as EQF, Europass, Mobility of Young Volunteers, as well as in the European Solidarity Corps Resource Centre Advisory Group. She extends her expertise to numerous civil dialogue campaigns and represents CEV in the EESC Liaison Group for European Civil Society Networks and has been further involved in establishing Civil Society Europe in 2014 where she currently serves as Treasurer as a member of the Steering Committee.  She has co-chaired the ‘Our European Life’ thematic cluster of the Civil Society Convention for the CoFoEU since March 2021 and actively contributed to the CoFoEU plenary sessions and the working group on Migration. 

Camee Comperen, 
Winder Benefit of Learning Foundation

Camee Comperen has always felt inspired to make education more holistic and to create more space in society for deeper connections. This inspiration stems from the ten years she spent as a student at a Waldorf school, where she experienced an education system that allows the child to develop their inner diversity. This experience planted the seed for Camee's interest in education, politics, philosophy and the creation of meaningful relationships. Through her involvement in a youth council in 2016, Camee became involved with the youth team of the Learning for Wellbeing Foundation (L4WB-F) and, in 2019, she started working there as managing assistant. 
Camee currently lives in Amsterdam, where she is studying political science and philosophy.
She also leads the Workgroup on Pluralism in Assessment project, which the L4WB-F is carrying out in partnership with the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE) and Waldorf Hungary, and assists with the development of ACT2gether Youth.

Chartered Civil Engineer

Paul Coughlan is a Chartered Civil Engineer who is currently the Group Chief Operating Officer for Arup Group, an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists. Arup Group's turnover for 2019/2020 was GBP 1.78 bn and the firm has over 16 000 employees and works on projects in over 140 countries. Paul ran Arup's business in Europe between 2014 and 2019, managing the firm's operations in ten countries. He ran Arup's business in the Netherlands between 2012 and 2015. Throughout his career, Paul has managed projects and has provided advice to clients in the aviation, highway and rail sectors. He has gained particular expertise in project management, design management, contract administration, safety management, strategic consultancy and risk management in those sectors. Between 2006 and 2011, Paul was a Project Director on the Dublin Airport Terminal 2 project in Ireland and managed the Arup team that guided the project through to opening on time in November 2010. Paul is a member of FEANI.

Pierre Jean COULON,
EESC Member, President of the TEN Section

Pierre Jean Coulon is a member of the French Confederation of Christian Workers (CFTC), vice-president of the Global Order of International Experts (OMEI) and former president of the INGO "Right to energy SOS Future". He has been a member of the EESC since 2010 and is currently rapporteur for its opinion on the renovation wave; he has also been rapporteur for opinions on the evaluation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport and the hydrogen strategy, and co-rapporteur for those on the contribution of civil society to the Green Agenda and sustainable development of the Western Balkans, the Energy Union strategic framework, and energy technologies and innovation.

Chief Operating Officer at Ukrainian Social Academy

Petro is the Chief Operating Officer at the Ukrainian Social Academy, the training and consulting centre specialising in international educational programmes in the field of social entrepreneurship and providing mentoring and financial support to social start-ups in Ukraine.
Previously, Petro worked as Director of Executive Education Programmes at the Ukrainian Social Academy. He also worked at the Ukrainian Catholic University as an Assistant Professor and Lecturer in Social Ethics. His educational background is Theology (Ukrainian Catholic University, Ukraine), and Social and Business Ethics (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium).


President of the Imago Mundi Association, Romania

Costin is the vice-president of Volonteurope and the president of the Imago Mundi Association in Mălureni, Romania, a rural NGO that has achieved a strong presence in the area of youth and has been involved in several international projects and awareness-raising campaigns. He has also recently taken on the role of organisational development specialist for the Radio Romania Broadcasting Company, the national state-owned network of radio stations in Romania. For the last 15 years Costin has worked in the field of education and has been actively involved in NGO activities as a teacher, trainer, youth worker, project manager and coach. Through these roles he has taken part in various projects and campaigns at regional, national and EU level.

Yves Dejaeghere,
Executive Director, Federation for Innovation in Democracy Europe (FIDE)

Yves Dejaeghere worked as a senior researcher in political science at the Catholic University of Louvain and the University of Antwerp, and has been a guest professor at several other universities in Belgium and France. He has also been a visiting researcher at the University of Oxford (UK).

As a scholar he has published in major international journals on participation in politics, citizenship, elections and the information processing of elite politicians. From 2018 to 2021 he was the coordinator of the Belgian G1000 organisation, a think-tank with expertise on the use of sortition and deliberative democracy. From 2021 on he will lead FIDE, the Federation for Innovation in Democracy Europe, a new non-profit organisation that brings together European expertise in the use of deliberative democracy.

He has acted as an expert for various European organisations, including the European Court of Auditors, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a number of local, regional and national governments.

Nicolás DIMARCO,
Argentinian federation of cooperatives in the tech sector (FATTIC)

Nicolas Dimarco is one of the founding members of Fiqus, a software development cooperative in Argentina, and a member of the board of directors of the Argentine federation of technology cooperatives (FACTTIC). He began as a developer in a software consulting firm at the age of 18, and after working on several projects, founded a worker cooperative with some colleagues at the age of 25. Over the years, after the creation of FACTTIC, and together with members of other cooperatives, he helped to set up FIT, an area within the federation that allows them to work collaboratively with other cooperatives on larger scale projects, avoiding competition. Today, Nicolás is dedicated to working in the commercial and relationship area of his cooperative, as well as being actively involved in FIT and the federation. He has also been working together with other colleagues on the creation of a global network of technology cooperatives, connecting with cooperatives in other parts of the world. The main goal behind the creation of this cooperative network is to join the technological cooperative movement, in order to share technology, knowledge and projects. Passionate about cooperative entrepreneurship, he dedicates his daily work to contributing towards the development and promotion of Fiqus and FACTTIC.


Project Manager, Volunteering Matters, UK

James Donnelly became involved in youth inclusion and activism through volunteering in 2015, both as an active volunteer in grassroots projects across Glasgow and as a mentor for other volunteers starting out in the third sector. Since joining Volunteering Matters since 2018 he has managed and developed a number of programmes, most recently the launch of the organisation's flagship family support model in Edinburgh. He has directly supported young adults through the EVS and ESC full-time volunteering programmes and remains active in community-led, collaborative efforts across the central belt of Scotland.

EESC member, President of the EESC´s European Semester Group

Javier Doz Orrit is president of the EESC´s European Semester Group. He represents workers' interests in the EESC, and is active in the Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO), of which he is vice-president, and the External Relations Section (REX). At national level, he is currently advisor to the General Secretary of the Spanish trade union Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO.), a position he has held since 2013.

Mr Doz Orrit holds a degree in mathematics from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and is a professor of mathematics. He has published numerous articles and two books on education, training, economics, trade unionism and politics.

He has been rapporteur for the EESC opinions Towards a more resilient and sustainable European economy, Euro area economic policy (2017, 2018 and 2019), Multiannual Financial Framework post-2020, Adjustment of annual pre-financing for the years 2021 to 2023, Terrorism Financing – Controls of cash movements, Anti-Money Laundering Directive, and Combatting tax fraud, tax avoidance and money laundering; and co-rapporteur for the opinion Investment Plan for Europe: stock-taking and next steps.

Programme Director at H401

Lars Ebert is the Programme Director at H401 in Amsterdam, a centre for art, research and dialogue. H401 coordinates the Creative-Europe-funded cooperation project Heritage Contact Zone, in which Culture Action Europe is a partner. He also works as an independent advisor in the area of higher education and the arts for clients such as the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA), the primary network for higher arts education in Europe, for which he has previously served in various roles, including as Deputy Director. Lars is co-founder and chair of the Board of EQ-Arts, the first transnational sector-specific accreditation agency for the arts, for which he currently engages in the Erasmus-funded strategic partnership Creator Doctus, which advocates artistic research and develops art-practice-based third cycle degrees. He is a frequent facilitator, moderator and speaker at international events.

International innovator and Expert in the Field of Technological and Vocational Education and Training

Dr Eli Eisenberg is a world-renowned pedagogue, as well as an international innovator and expert in the field of TVET (Technological and Vocational Education and Training). Dr Eisenberg is frequently requested to advise governments and international organisations in his fields of expertise. In addition, Dr Eisenberg is a sought-after lecturer in distinguished TVET forums.

Head of Unit for Social Economy, European Commission

Ulla Engelmann is Head of Unit for Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship within DG Grow, the European Commission's Directorate-General for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs.
Previously, Ulla worked at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the in-house science service of the European Commission, for many years in different roles. She started in the JRC in Ispra (Italy) in 1993 as a post-doc in fusion research, and moved on to manage various units (communication, international relations, and others) in Ispra and Brussels. Ulla holds a PhD in analytical and radiochemistry from the National Research Centre in Karlsruhe.


Head of Mondragon's cooperative outreach programme

Ander Etxeberria-Otadui has been the head of Mondragon's cooperative outreach programme for the last five years. He has been part of Mondragon for more than twenty years, starting in a training position and then working as a personnel manager.

Caroline FERGUSON,
National Coordinator of the Initiative Mon Entreprise Sociale et Solidaire à l’Ecole

Engaged in social and solidarity economy (SSE) structures since the age of 12, Caroline has done internships, volunteering and voluntary work in many SSE structures in various fields (inclusion, food, access to rights, NGOs, etc.). After graduating with a master's degree in SSE from the University of Haute Alsace in Mulhouse, she first worked in support of employing associations in difficulty or in development, in order to consolidate SSE structures and develop associative employment. At ESPER since December 2018, as the national coordinator of "My SSE at School", she has been working for education in and through SSE in order to inform young students about the values of social economy entrepreneurship.



Julie Fernandez graduated from the Paris La Villette School of Architecture in 1999 and holds a Master of Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, USA. She worked as an architect for the Ateliers Jean Nouvel for seven years, and also taught urban design at the Franco-American workshop at the Paris La Villette School of Architecture (1998-2003). In 2007, she founded the architecture firm LOG-architectes with Thomas Saint-Guillain. Since 2011, she has been secretary of the EKOPOLIS association as well as an elected member of the French Order of Architects, where she has responsibility for issues relating to environmental transition and continuing professional development.

Vice-president of the European Youth Forum.

Anja Fortuna is vice-president of the European Youth Forum. She is a former president and vice-president of the National Youth Council of Slovenia, a former board member of the Slovenian Rural Youth Association ((ZSPM), and a member of the board of Idrija Youth Centre. She is head of Youth Policy and Rural Development at the Slovenian Rural Youth Association and a trainer at Rural Youth Europe. Over her career she has been involved in various civil society initiatives at different levels, where she has broadened her understanding of the role played by civil society.

Shanti GEORGE, Learning for Wellbeing foundation 

Having trained and worked as an anthropologist across three continents, Shanti George engages with the dynamic between education and culture and their potential to contribute to global transformation – issues of especial relevance to the European and global recovery from the pandemic. The Learning for Well-being Foundation, where Shanti is a Senior Associate, promotes intergenerational partnerships and intergenerational learning that recognises children and young people as competent partners in progress towards a just and sustainable world. The foundation is a member of the Lifelong Learning Platform and emphasises that learning for well-being is both lifelong and intergenerational.

Ken Godfrey,
Executive Director, European Partnership for Democracy (EPD)

Ken Godfrey is the executive director of the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) and has led the organisation since 2015. Prior to joining EPD, Mr Godfrey worked as an electoral advisor for the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste. He has also worked for the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan, at the European Parliament and as an external consultant for the European Commission. He graduated from the London School of Economics with a Master's Degree in Comparative Democratisation, focusing research on the links between climate change and representative democracy. Mr Godfrey has also worked in Argentina, Canada, China, Senegal and the United Kingdom.


Project Scotland, UK

Scott Graham has a wealth of experience in supporting and empowering young people.  Having been raised in an impoverished area in Glasgow, Scotland, he has a passion for community, equality and opportunities for all. This drive led him to study Health and Wellbeing Studies at the University of the West of Scotland. He currently works for Project Scotland, helping young people to achieve their life goals and promoting opportunities in volunteering. Outside of his working life he has a passion for challenging himself physically, including by running marathons and cycling across Europe to raise money for and increase the profile of local charities. Being a Scotsman, he also often devotes his time to familiarising himself with his native language of English!

Theodor Grassos,
Secretary General of the European Association of Institutes for Vocational Training

Theodor Grassos has been Secretary General of EVBB for approximately two years and is Vice-President of European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME. He is a member of, and expert for, two Working Groups of the European Commission: the Working Group on Vocational Education and Training and the Green Transition and the Working Group on Adult Learning - Opening Up Opportunities for All. Furthermore, he is a member of Life Long learning platform as well as VET 4 EU2 group. Among his key qualifications are his hands-on experience in implementing high-value EU projects. Having implemented and participated in numerous projects, he has strong knowledge of the EU’s current trends and strategies. For more than 15 years, he has proven his extensive knowledge of ESF and EU education & VET strategies, since he has successfully implemented various international cooperation projects.

Flavio Grazian, 
Participatory Democracy Manager, European Citizen Action Service (ECAS)

Flavio Grazian is participatory democracy manager at the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), where he works on developing and implementing EU projects, with a particular focus on participatory democracy at EU level, the European Citizens' Initiative and online disinformation. Within the organisation, he coordinates the European Citizens' Initiative Forum project. He contributes to the development and implementation of several European projects

Giuseppe GUERINI,
Spokesperson of the EESC Social Economy Category and
President of CECOP-CICOPA Europe

Giuseppe Guerini is President of CECOP-CICOPA Europa, representing some 50 000 companies with more than 1.3 million workers in Europe. He is also President of Confcooperative- Federsolidarietà and has been a "social cooperator" since 1988. He has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2010 and is currently spokesperson of its social economy category. He has also held managerial roles in various cooperatives, and has been involved in the planning of social policies and active employment policies. As a "cooperative entrepreneur", today he is President of the social cooperative Ecosviluppo, which seeks to create job opportunities for disadvantaged people in the management of environmental services. His many years of experience in social cooperation has allowed him to collaborate as a teacher with various institutes, and he is the author of publications on social policies. In recent years, he has also taken on the role of board member in the cooperative and popular banking system.

Smilla Harmia, 
Youth Activist, Germany/Finland

Smilla is a 24 years old student of media and communication, and after finishing her Bachelor's degree this year she intends to specialise in sustainable business development and communication. As a half Finnish and half German national, she strongly identifies herself as European. By volunteering at an Europhile non-profit association she got to know many inspiring people, each one standing up for common values such as intergenerational fairness, tolerance and solidarity. In cooperation with great partners, for instance the Movember Foundation, she would like to play an active part in getting our generation ready for future challenges.

Heleen HEYSSE,
Policy Officer at Cooperatives Europe

Heleen Heysse has been a policy officer for Cooperatives Europe, the European association of cooperatives, within the ICA-EU Partnership (#Coops4dev) team, since early 2019. Her work focusses on international development and strenghtening the role of cooperatives as development actors all over the world. Previously, she did internships at Political Intelligence and at the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), the voice of European trade unions specialised in education.  She graduated from KU Leuven in 2018 with a degree in Comparative and International Politics.

Katrīna Idū, 
Co-President,  Forum Synergies 

Katrīna Idū (Latvia) is a geographer and a strategic spatial planner in the city of Riga, with an interest in community-led local development strategies and urban-rural linkages. She is experienced in rural development, non-formal education, rural community-building activities focusing on youth involvement, intergenerational cooperation and transmission of knowledge for sustainable rural areas. Katrina is also the president of Forum Synergies, a Europe-wide network of rural development initiatives.

Piotr Maciej

Member of New Europeans Warsaw, Poland

Piotr Maciej Kaczyński is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Relations in Warsaw. He has dealt professionally with European integration since 2004, working with think tanks, civil society organisations, politicians and the media. He is also a trainer on EU decision-making and a member of Team Europe-Poland, the European Commission's Warsaw-based advisory group. His articles are published in leading European newspapers including Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita and Onet.pl in Poland, Politico Europe, Euractiv.com and VoxEurop.eu in Brussels, the Irish Times, Helsingin Sanomat, Le Monde, El País and others. He is also the host of a radio show on EU affairs on Halo Radio. Mr Kaczyński is a graduate of the College of Europe (2004) and Warsaw University (2002).

Executive Director of the European Citizen Action Service

Assya Kavrakova is the Executive Director of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), an international non-profit organisation, based in Brussels, with a pan-European membership and 29 years of experience in EU citizens’ rights enforcement and civic participation in the EU decision-making process. Ms Kavrakova has more than twenty years of experience in senior management positions in the non-governmental sector including skills to manage diverse portfolios of projects and activities, excellent leading ability to manage international teams of experts and NGOs to ensure timely delivery of project outputs and outcomes and in-depth knowledge of EU Funding Rules and Procedures, European Citizenship, European Rights Framework, EU civic participation formal and informal mechanisms. Ms Kavrakova is currently the Project Manager of the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum and in the team working with Secretariat-General of the European Commission on developing and implementing this online collaborative platform.

Lena Kollmuβ,
Climate justice activist, Germany

Lena is your classic 25-year-old young adult: not really sure yet what to do about her life but clear on her opinions and the things she stands for: a strong sense of climate and social justice, fairness and equal representation of all kinds of people, taking action and listening to the stories others have to tell. She strongly believes in the power of young people and in translating their visions into reality. In Passau, where she attended university until recently, she volunteered for a local NGO and was responsible for an EU project which promotes youth activism. Together with fellow young people, they thought of creative and sustainable ways to empower young people to stand up for kind of society they want to live in. Lena currently lives in Frankfurt, where she works for the German Society for International Cooperation. Here she works in the quality control department, which ensures the quality and sustainability of development projects all over the world. In her free time, she makes the most of lockdown life, constantly trying new vegetarian recipes, perfecting that regular running schedule and teaching herself how to knit. 


President of Lifelong Learning Platform and Project Coordinator at European Parents Association 

Arja is a linguist who studied romance languages. She works as a tourist guide while still pursuing teacher training studies at Vienna University with a special focus on multilingualism, diversity and multiculturalism.
A mother of three, Arja lived abroad for almost 20 years and has been actively involved in parents' representation at the schools attended by her children in different countries. Upon her return to Austria – her home country – she became involved in the regional parents' association and was later elected as a member of the Board of the European Parents' Association (EPA), where she served as President in 2018-2019 and currently holds the role of Project Coordinator. In 2020, she also joined the Executive Committee of OIDEL (an NGO that promotes the right to education). A lifelong learner herself, she was elected President of the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) in September 2020.

Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the EAPN

Anna Krózser is a Hungarian economist who has been Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) since December 2020. Before that, Ms Krózser worked as a Policy Advisor to the S&D Group in the European Parliament, working on fundamental rights and gender and anti-discrimination issues, and was also a trainee in the Cabinet of Former Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor.

João Labrincha,
founder of the Citizenship Academy – Academia Cidadã

João Labrincha was the instigator of the Distressed Generation (Geração à Rasca) Movement, which organised the first mass demonstration in Europe mobilised via social media, on 12 March 2011. More than 500 000 people protested peacefully and creatively for the right to a job, with rights, and against social injustices caused by austerity measures. João is the founder of the Citizenship Academy - Academia Cidadã. He previously worked for Amnesty International Portugal and for GEOTA (an environmental NGO) in communications and project management.

Judit Lantai
European Youth Forum

Judit has been involved in activism and youth participation for almost 10 years. She has experience both with practice and policy from local to European levels and has been engaged in volunteer, representative and paid positions in youth organisations - primarily in the National Youth Council of Hungary, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU). She has also worked as a freelance trainer, facilitator and youth worker with a variety of youth organisations and civil society organisations (CSOs). She now holds the post of policy officer at the European Youth Forum, working on topics such as funding for youth organisations, safeguarding civic space, youth work, non-formal education and volunteering, bringing the benefits of her experience in practice to the policy field. 

Mikael Leyi,
Secretary-General of SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation

Mikael Leyi has been the secretary-general of SOLIDAR and the SOLIDAR Foundation since May 2020. He is a political scientist with a broad professional background both geographically speaking and in terms of competences: during his career he has worked as part of the labour movement in Sweden, in the field of international development cooperation, and at the Olof Palme International Center (a member organisation of SOLIDAR), where he took on various roles. Additionally, he has worked with European and international trade union organisations and popular education movements, as well as with the EU institutions, the OSCE and the UN, across five continents.

Leonie MARTIN,
President of the unaffiliated youth organisation Young European Federalists

Leonie Martin is president of the unaffiliated youth organisation Young European Federalists (JEF). She hails from the region close to the border between Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Martin has a masters degree in European public policy and administration from Maastricht University and in International and European law from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She has also lived in Budapest, Berlin and the Washington DC area.

Prof. Dr.

Professor of 'Strategic Philanthropy and Volunteering’ 

Prof Dr Lucas Meijs is professor of 'Strategic Philanthropy and Volunteering’ with the department of Business-Society Management, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. His main research and teaching focuses on volunteer and nonprofit management, including the relation with the for-profit world.
Currently he is contracted as an expert by EESC to research trends in volunteering in Europe.

The title of his intervention will be: “Making volunteer energy sustainable and circular in order to improve volunteering, now and in the future”

Member of Antonio Guterres’ Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change

Nathan Méténier is a 21-year-old climate and environment activist and one of seven members of António Guterres’ Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. Nathan is active in the main European youth climate networks, notably as Advocacy Manager of Youth and Environment Europe, co-founder of Generation Climate Europe and the only youth member of the European Environmental Bureau.

Director of Social Economy Europe

Víctor Meseguer joined Social Economy Europe, the voice of the 2.8 million social economy enterprises and organisation in the EU, in 2014. Since 2018, he has represented Social Economy Europe at the European Commission Expert Group on social economy and social enterprises.
He studied for a BA in Political Science at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona. As part  of an ERASMUS exchange, he studied for one year at King's College London. Victor holds two master's degrees: one in Corporate Social Responsibility (University of Murcia) and the other in European Affairs (IEE, Université Libre de Bruxelles).

• Student and teacher of a Cooperative School in Spain – We will not include a bio for these

Morten Andreas MEYER,
Secretary-general of the Norwegian Homeowners' Association, Huseierne,

Morten Andreas Meyer is currently secretary-general of the Norwegian Homeowners' Association, Huseierne, and was previously Minister for Labour and Administration and State Secretary in the Norwegian government. He has been chair of the board of NorSIS, partner and senior adviser at First House and Health Industry Leader at IBM. He is a confident and solid leader with good strategic abilities and great operational capacity, and combines a listening and inclusive approach with decision-making ability and the capacity to deliver. He has a wide range of experience from different areas of society – in both business and politics – and different roles, including adviser and chair of the board.

Esther Nass,
Director EU Affairs, Civocracy

Esther Nass is director of EU Affairs at Civocracy, a civic technology startup that facilitates digital citizen participation. Harnessing the power of citizens and stakeholders to work on an inclusive and democratic society, Esther is responsible for international and European initiatives, e.g. related to the Green Deal and the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). She is also involved in ACTE, the Association Civic Tech Europe. With a background in European Studies and democracy, she has worked on democratic civil society, online intercultural dialogue in the postcolonial context, power relations and representation.
She currently works on the opportunities that digital democracy brings: in the spring of 2020, when COVID-19 hit and closed down public life, Civocracy mobilised French citizens on a national level to imagine the society of tomorrow. By also engaging with people who had participated earlier on a local and regional level, e.g. in Lyon and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Civocracy has successfully created a network of engaged citizens who are reconnecting on different levels and themes. Continuing to focus on the future of our societies and developing citizen engagement and participation, she is working on green projects with a WWF network of sustainable cities, with Energie de France and with Fridays for Future in Spain.

Architect and urban planner, co-founder of Planwerk studio (Cluj, Romania)

Eugen Pănescu is an architect and urban planner, and co-founder of Planwerk studio (Cluj, Romania). He has contributed to the rebirth of public space and the transformation of professional practice of planning in Romania, and led the Urban Design Studio at the Cluj Architecture Faculty on brownfield transformation. As a member of the Executive Board of the Architects' Council of Europe and coordinator for the Baukultur thematic area, he follows the European Urban Agenda and partnerships for culture in the European Heritage Alliance, for the judicious re-use and cautious retrofitting of buildings and urban areas. He promotes a holistic approach to heritage through social and economic equity, linking innovative public governance in planning with civic action.

Krzysztof Pater,
EESC Member

Krzysztof has been a member of the EESC since 21 September 2006, and from 2008 to 2010 he served as president of the ECO Section (Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Social Cohesion). He also served as the President of the EESC's Labour Market Observatory (in 2010-2012 and 2017-2020). In the past he has held several positions in the Polish public administration, including in the Ministry of International Economic Relations and Ministry of State Treasury. In the 90s he was one of the leaders of the team working on the Polish pension system reform. He also served as the Member of the Government - Minister of Social Policy. He works currently as the Permanent Advisor to the Polish Parliament Petition Commission. He is an active member of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP), now he is the President of this Organisation

Juan Antonio Pedreño,
President of Social Economy Europe

Juan Antonio Pedreño holds a BA in Chemistry (with a specialism in industrial chemistry) from Granada University (Spain). He is an expert on social economy and cooperatives. He started his professional career as a secondary school teacher and became a founding member of the cooperative school, high-school and vocational training centre Severo Ochoa, which he chaired for more than 20 years. Currently, he is the President of Social Economy Europe, CEPES (Spanish Social Economy Confederation), UCOMUR (Murcia Region Worker Cooperatives) and UCOERM (Murcia Region Education Cooperatives). Furthermore, Mr Pedreño is the General Coordinator of the ESMED Network (Euro-Mediterranean Social Economy) and a member of the Spanish Economic and Social Committee. Juan Antonio Pedreño has also been President of COCETA (Spanish Confederation of Worker Cooperatives) and member of the Board of Directors of Cooperatives Europe. He is the author of articles and papers on the social economy enterprise model.

EESC Member,
Vice-president of "Employers of Poland"

Cristian Pîrvulescu,
Member of the EESC and President of the Ad hoc group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law

Mr Cristian Pîrvulescu is a Romanian Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), from Group III ("Civil Society Organisations"). Since 2020, he is the President of the EESC's Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law Group. Mr Pîrvulescu is a renowned democracy activist in Romania. A political scientist, he is Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, National School of Political Studies and Administration in Bucharest. He regularly contributes to Romanian and international media on democracy-related topics.

Lisy Piter,
Project Manager, European Association for Local Democracies (ALDA)

Lisy Piter graduated with a double degree, has a Master's in Business Administration in International Management in Canada and a Master's degree in International Business and Management in France, and is a person who likes to take up challenges. She has studied in three different continents (Europe, Asia, North America), including in the field of international relations, obtaining a University Diploma in Political Studies of International Relations. The path she has followed has given her the opportunity to work in different languages and on various topics, ranging from empowerment of women to research projects on access to drinking water for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, and including international youth cooperation (G7 Youth Summit). She has developed the ability to multitask along with a flair for multicultural management. Also interested in the topic of digital diplomacy, for the past year she has been project manager for projects implemented by the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), with specific expertise in and focus on digitalisation and citizenship.

Lejla Šehić RELIĆ,
founder and managing director of Volunteer Centre Osijek

Lejla Šehić Relić is the founder and managing director of the Volunteer Centre Osijek. She has been a committed civil society leader and activist since 2003, and is an expert in the development of volunteering and community development programmes, a mentor for the implementation of quality insurance systems for non-profit organisations, and a trainer and consultant for organisational development and development of quality volunteer programmes in non-profit organisations. Lejla holds a university degree in public administration. For the past 10 years she has been active in the development of public policy for the benefit of civil society and volunteering in Croatia. From 2012 to 2014 Lejla was president of the Croatian National Council for the development of volunteering, and in 2019 she was elected as president of the Centre for European Volunteering (CEV) for a four-year term. She is the co-author of several publications on volunteering, civil society and conflict management.

Paula Rey García, 
Deputy Head of Unit B3 Energy Efficiency: Buildings and Products, at the European Commission

Paula Rey García is the Deputy Head of Unit B3 Energy Efficiency: Buildings and Products, at the European Commission Directorate General for Energy. Previously, she was Team Leader in the Directorate General for Environment and subsequently in the Directorate General for Health & Consumers and Directorate General Energy. She held position also as Associate Liaison Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme and she was a Blue book stagiaire in Directorate General for Environment. She holds a MSc on Environmental Economics and Regulation at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and she holds a degree in Biological Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Universidad Autónoma of Madrid (UAM).

EESC member, Diversity Europe (Group III)

Lutz Ribbe has been an active member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 1998. He has been one of the main drivers of the EESC's work on environmental issues and sustainable development, serving as rapporteur for opinions on the EU environment action programmes, biodiversity and resource efficiency, to name but a few.

Mr Ribbe has been the director of the Environmental Policy Section of EuroNatur and of its office in Bonn for over 20 years. His sustained and knowledgeable environmental activism led to his appointment in 2010 as chair of the Commission for Agriculture and Environment at the German Federal Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt). He has also been active in a number of German and European environmental councils such as the German-Polish Environmental Council (ongoing) and the Nature Conservation Advisory Council of the Land of Brandenburg, and was vice-president of the working group on agriculture at the German Association for Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND). Mr Ribbe is also a co-founder and board member of NEULAND, a registered association working towards environmentally friendly and ethically acceptable livestock breeding.

Gabriele ROSANA,
Policy Director, CAE

Gabriele Rosana is a public policy enthusiast with experience in both the institutions and the not-for-profit sector. He is passionate about the EU political project and the role that culture has to play in it. During the eighth legislative term, he worked for the chair/coordinator for a major political group in the European Parliament's CULT Committee and the rapporteur for Creative Europe, gaining a detailed insight into EU policy-making in the fields of culture, education, media and digital technology.
Before joining Culture Action Europe, Gabriele worked as a Policy Executive for Fondation EURACTIV and as an Advocacy Officer for the Association Européenne des Conservatoires (AEC). He holds an LL.M. in EU Law from the College of Europe in Bruges and is a freelance journalist covering EU and foreign affairs for various media outlets. He tweets a lot.

Piotr Sadowski,
Secretary-General of Volonteurope

Piotr has been secretary-general of Volonteurope since 2008. He was directly involved in advocating for and implementing the 2011 European Year of Volunteering. In 2017 he joined the management committee of Social Platform and in 2019 was elected its president. His love for volunteering dates back to his IB studies at UWC Atlantic College in Wales (1996-98) where, in his spare time, he volunteered as a lifeboat crew member with the RNLI. He then studied economics at the LSE in the UK. He works internationally and is based between London, Brussels and Ibiza.

Diederik M.

Head of Cabinet of Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal

Diederik Maarten Samsom (born 10 July 1971) is a Dutch environmentalist and retired politician who served the Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid PvdA) from 2012 to 2016. He was the first leader in the 70-year history of the PvdA to have been voted out of his position by party members. Since November 2019 Samsom is head of cabinet for First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans.
Elected to the House of Representatives between 30 January 2003 and 14 December 2016, he was elected PvdA parliamentary leader as well as party leader on 16 March 2012.[1] He lost the Labour Party leadership election to Lodewijk Asscher in December 2016. Before his election to the House of Representatives he was CEO of a green energy company and a campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands.

EESC member, Workers' Group (Group II)

President of the EESC Sustainable Development Observatory since 2018 and a member of the EESC's since 2014 for Group II (Workers). From 2015 to March 2018, he was the president of the EESC's Permanent Study Group on Sustainable Food Systems. Peter is 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 was 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.

Alberto Arroyo Schnell,
IUCN European Regional Office in Brussels

Alberto Arroyo Schnell is responsible for the management and coordination of the policy work at the IUCN European Regional Office in Brussels, as well as for the IUCN European Work Programme. This includes IUCN’s activity on European biodiversity policy, sustainable agriculture/CAP, plastic / circular economy, climate change / forest / land use debate and of course the SDGs as the overarching umbrella.


Associate Professor at the University of Zürich

Irmi is an Associate Professor at the University of Zürich and works at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research. She trained as an economist and works on nature conservation issues and post-growth society. She recently edited a book – together with Angelika Zahrnt – entitled Post-growth Work: Employment and Meaningful Activities within Planetary Boundaries (published by Routledge, early summer 2021; German original version: Tätigsein in der Postwachstumsgesellschaft, 2019, Metropolis Verlag).

Furkan Sorkuncuk,

Furkan is a law student in the last year of his undergraduate studies at Galatasaray University in Turkey, and studied European law at the Catholic University of Louvain as an Erasmus student in Belgium. He is interested in volunteering, NGO management and child protection. Furkan has implemented many volunteer projects to reduce inequalities in Istanbul and is working at Volonteurope and the Turkey-Europe Foundation as an intern, where he has been learning more about EU policy-making and the relationship between Turkey and Europe. He also works remotely on Education and Youth Policy for the Republican People's Party in Turkey. 

Antonella Valmorbida,
Secretary General, European Association for Local Democracies (ALDA)

Antonella Valmorbida, secretary-general of the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA) since 1999, has senior level experience in promoting local democracy, empowerment and participation of civil society and good governance in Europe, in the Balkans, in Eastern Europe and in the Mediterranean area. She is a senior European consultant on local development with a focus on the implementation of participatory processes for urban regeneration. She manages a network of 350 members mainly composed of local authorities and civil society groups in over 40 countries in Europe and beyond.

Antonella Valmorbida is president of the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) and a member of the Advisory Board of the Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development, Armenia. She was chair of the Enlargement, Pre-accession and Neighborhood (EPAN) working group of CONCORD (European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development) until 2016, chair of the Committee on Democracy and Civil Society of the Conference of INGOs (international non-governmental organisations) of the Council of Europe from 2008 to 2011, and coordinator of the subgroup on local government and public administration reform of the Civil Society Forum for Eastern Partnership. In 2012-13, she was a board member of CIVICUS – the World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

Antonella Valmorbida has an academic career at the University of Padua, Italy, and has published two books on the involvement of citizens at local level in promoting democracy, as well as various articles. Antonella Valmorbida is a French and Italian native speaker and is fluent in English and Russian

Ludovic VOET,

Ludovic Voet’s responsibilities at the ETUC cover sustainable development and climate change, migration, youth policy, non-standard work and the platform economy, education and training, and equality and non-discrimination, as well as union organising. Before being elected as Confederal Secretary at the ETUC’s May 2019 Congress, Ludovic Voet had been national youth leader of the Belgian CSC union since July 2015. As President of Young CSC, he was responsible for the development of young people’s action within the union organisations (federations and local unions), external representation, union organising, affiliation and lobbying.