From the Editorial of this issue:
It gives me great pleasure to welcome the 35 counsellors from the 10 new Member States who have just joined Group I. Their appointment was officialised by the Council on 24th May 2004, and already the next day, 27 members attended the extraordinary Group I meeting, demonstrating their strong commitment to become fully and quickly involved in our activities. The full list of new Group I members can be found on page 4 of this Newsletter.
At the extraordinary meeting, we were particularly honoured by the presence of Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, who briefly presented his Entrepreneurship Action Plan and New Industrial Policy to the assembled Employers Group members. The real value-added, however, resided in the lively discussion with the Commissioner afterwards, which covered a wide range of business-related topics. Our colleagues Madi Sharma and Antonello Pezzini found a favourable listener in Mr. Liikanen for their respective requests that the Commission request the Committee to explore further the role that business can play in growth for Europe, and the positive impact for the European economy to stimulate further cooperation between SMEs which are established in hi-tech development poles and so-called clusters.
Group I members were also actively involved in the conference that the Committee had been asked to organise by Commission President Romano Prodi on the political priorities and the financial perspective of the EU budget for the period 2007-2013. Over two days in an in-depth discussion, involving all aspects of organised civil society, a number of critical and constructive comments emerged from the discussions, and especially from the three workshops that looked at the three 'pillars' of the Commission's Communication.
Finally, the Committee is leaving its current offices on the Rue Ravenstein to occupy the fully renovated building on the Rue Belliard that was formerly occupied by the European Parliament. June 2004 sees us officially installing all 95 members from the new Member States and also moving closer to the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the European Parliament, thus contributing to a better and stronger visibility of the Committee and its activities as one of the Union's two Advisory Bodies.