Inaugural session - presentation of the President's programme
Mr Staffan Nilsson, elected President of the Committee, outlined his programme to members on 21 October 2010. The presidents of the three groups responded to his speech.
Statement by George Dassis, Group II President
On behalf of the Employees' Group, George Dassis congratulated the new Committee President, emphasising his openness and his knowledge of Greek culture. He noted that Mr Nilsson had touched upon all those issues which should be of concern to EESC members in their capacity as members of a European consultative body, thereby continuing the work done by Mr Mario Sepi, whom Georgios Dassis thanked formally.
Mr Nilsson had spoken about hunger in the world which provided Georgios Dassis with the opportunity of reminding members that not only were more and more men and women suffering hunger, but that the number of newly poor people was on the rise and included workers who, though in receipt of wages, found them insufficient to meet their needs. At the same time, "investors", otherwise known as "speculators", were seen to be amassing so much wealth that they would have to live four hundred years to be able to spend the fruits of their plunder.
With reference to the financial crisis touched upon by Mr Nilsson, Mr Dassis added that, though in no way responsible for it, it was the man in the street who would be footing the bill. He also agreed with the new President that agricultural policy needed to be emphasised. It had been unjustly neglected by many people and deserved to be endowed with generous resources. The hypocrisy of some governments in this regard should be swiftly and firmly denounced.
Mr Dassis closed his statement by looking back to the history of Ancient Greece, which bore some resemblance to the pre-ECSC Europe - a group of city-states engaged in constant internecine warfare until they were united under Philip of Macedonia. The difference, of course, was that King Philip unified Greece by force whilst today's Europe was founded on dialogue, peace and cooperation. This was the Europe that we needed to fight for: a Europe of sustainable development, dialogue, peace and solidarity. Mr Dassis concluded by addressing these words to Staffan Nilsson: "On all these issues, you can count on the Employees: we will be with you."