In his speech on the occasion of the European Economic and Social Committee's 60th anniversary on 24 May, EESC President Luca Jahier voiced the Committee's resolve not to rest on its laurels and charted a course for the EESC's future action based on seven priorities. Top EU leaders debating future of Europe agree civic space is and must remain key to European democracy.

Speaking at the special commemorative plenary, President Luca Jahier highlighted the milestones in the EESC's history and recalled its major past achievements in successfully initiating some key EU legislation. From the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers to its pioneering proposal for a financial transaction tax, the "EESC has much to be proud of", he said.

President Jahier proposed some solutions to the challenges facing Europe and outlined the EESC's priority areas for actions in the years to come:

  • reasserting the Union's values
  • implementing the sustainable development agenda
  • stepping up coordination of economic policy within the EU
  • managing artificial intelligence for the good of mankind
  • working towards an ambitious multiannual financial framework based on solidarity and fostering cohesion
  • developing a sense of European identity though culture and education
  • actively shaping relations with the EU's neighbourhood and beyond.

In the ensuing debate, EC President Jean Claude-Juncker, EP Vice-President Ramón Valcarcel Siso and CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz discussed with Mr Jahier how best to tackle Europe's challenges in the run-up to the 2019 European elections.

In an inspirational speech, Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, expressed hope and confidence in Europe's future and stressed the EESC's role in ensuring a resilient democracy in Europe.

Darja Isaksson, a member of the Swedish Prime Minister's National Innovation Council, put forward the views of Europe's younger generation calling on EU leaders to rise to the challenge of sustainable development and the digital revolution.

President Jahier closed the ceremony with a quotation from Pope John Paul II, calling on participants not to be afraid of the present, but to dare to live it with courage.(dm)

Read President Jahier's speech at the commemorative plenary session

Watch President Jahier's speech (below) or read the speech in French, or English, or Italian