The future of democracy in Europe

Conference of the Workers' Group

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Despite the existence of strong provisions against discrimination in European legal texts, inequalities in Europe are persistent and even growing. More than 20 years after the adoption of the Treaty of Amsterdam, all European and national indicators reveal the persistence of discrimination based on ethnic origin, race, sex, sexual orientation, opinions and beliefs, disability and age, in areas such as employment, access to goods, education, and also public services and social protection.

The Workers' Group is holding a conference in Paris, the morning session of which will be devoted to actions that could be undertaken to eradicate this phenomenon. The debate will be moderated by Ozlem Yildirim, member of the Workers' Group and rapporteur of the opinion on Improving equality in the EU, with several speakers, including Claire Hédon, Head of the French anti-discrimination authority "Défenseur des Droits", who will open the discussion, Ludovic Voet, ETUC Confederal Secretary in charge of discrimination matters, Sarah Ganty, Human Rights Researcher, Céline Verzeletti, CGT Confederal Secretary, Branislav Rugani, CGT-FO Confederal Secretary, and Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The afternoon session will be devoted to a reflection on participative democracy and what challenges and opportunities it can represent for the European Economic and Social Committee. To this effect, two relevant studies commissioned by the EESC will be presented by their respective authors. The debate will be moderated by Christophe Quarez, member of the Workers' Group, and Albert Ritzenthaler, President of the CFDT group of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council will present the perspective of this Council which has already opened up to citizens' participation.

This debate will be further enriched during a last panel discussion moderated by Franca Salis-Madinier, Vice-President of the Workers' Group. During this discussion further insights on this issue will be offered by several speakers including Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of the EMI, Helmut Scholz, MEP and author himself of a report on citizens' dialogues and participation on the EU decision-making, and Marylise Léon, CFDT Deputy Secretary General.

The conference will be opened by Oliver Röpke, President of the Workers' Group, who will give a welcome address, and Thierry Beaudet, President of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council who will give an introductory speech.