A former Polish Minister for Social Policy and current President of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP), Mr Pater was elected to the post today by the plenary assembly of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), of which he has been a very active member since 2006.
The EESC, meeting in plenary session in Brussels, has elected Austrian trade unionist Oliver Röpke as its new President, Romanian business representative Aurel Laurenţiu Plosceanu as Vice-President for Communication and Krzysztof Pater, a member of the EESC's Civil Society Organisations Group, as Vice-President for Budget. The new leadership will remain in office until September 2025.
One of Mr Pater's top priorities while holding the purse strings of the Committee will be boosting its resilience, as a democratic institution, to threats and hostile influence:
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there has been not only a dramatic change in the economic landscape, which is a source of great uncertainty in the planning of much of the Committee's expenditure, but also in the global geopolitical situation", Mr Pater said. "This makes it more important than ever to invest to make existing democratic systems more capable of protecting fundamental rights and of reinforcing their own stability.
Social and economic issues at the heart of Mr Pater's career
In Poland, Krzysztof Pater played a prominent role in the reform of the pension system in the late 1990s and helped shape the concept of the funded pillars. He became Undersecretary of State for Labour and Social Policy in 2001 and Minister for Social Policy in 2004.
Awarded the Golden Cross of Merit by the President of Poland for his educational work with children and young people, Mr Pater has been an active member of the Scouting Association ZHP for more than 45 years and is currently its president.
At the EESC he has been president of the Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (2008-2010) and president of the Labour Market Observatory (2010-2013 and 2018-2020).
His reports have spearheaded campaigns to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively exercise their right to vote across the EU in European elections. He has also championed recognition of the immense social and economic value of volunteering, which he reiterated in his acceptance speech:
Voluntary activity saved the lives of thousands of European Union citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensured that hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine were able to get the help they needed. I very much hope that the European Commission will also acknowledge their efforts by making 2025 the European Year of Volunteers, as requested by our Committee.
- The president and two vice-presidents of the EESC are elected by a simple majority during the inaugural session of the assembly. They are chosen from each of the EESC's three groups (Employers, Workers and Civil Society Organisations) in turn for two‑and‑a‑half‑year terms. This means that two elections are held during each EESC term of office – at the beginning and halfway through.
- The EESC is made up of 329 members from its 27 Member States. They are nominated by their national governments and appointed by the Council of the European Union for a period of five years. They then work independently in the interests of all EU citizens. These members are not politicians but employers, trade unionists and representatives of various sectors of society such as farming, consumer and environmental organisations, the social economy, SMEs, professionals, and associations representing persons with disabilities, the voluntary sector, gender equality, youth, academia and so on.