After just coming back from a demanding mission in Ethiopia, with a high-level EESC delegation, the images and contents overlap in a whirlwind of emotions and convictions, which I could sum up in this way: in a world where autocrats seem to be gaining ground, here is a country that is going in the opposite direction and could claim the title of good news of the year and, perhaps, lion of the African Renaissance.
A delegation of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), composed of President Luca Jahier, Jaroslaw Mulewicz (Chair of EESC ACP-EU Follow-up Committee) and Carlos Trindade (Chair of EESC Permanent Group on Migration) is visiting Ethiopia this week (27-31 May) to bring EESC support to local civil society and to discuss the EU strategy in Africa.
The final results of yesterday’s European elections are trickling in one by one, giving us a chance to set the political backdrop for the next parliament.
Recent events are showing us that we must not let down our guard and believe that the 60 years of peace in Europe are to be taken for granted. Our Fundamental Rights, which are enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union are not to be taken for granted. It is inadmissible that last year saw the largest number of anti-semitic acts in decades, leading to an increasing sense of emergency among Jewish communities worldwide.
EESC resolution urges civil society to turn out in force at European elections and vote for a united Europe
The EESC's plenary session on 15 May adopted a resolution calling on all EU citizens to turn out at the forthcoming European elections and vote in favour of a united Europe. The Committee also invited civil society organisations to join efforts to mobilise voters. Read the full text here.
In a little less than three weeks, more than 400 million Europeans, the largest electorate in the world after India, will go to the polls to elect 751 members of parliament in an election that is probably the most decisive for the future of Europe since 1979, the first time we went to vote for our transnational parliament. For the past two years, EU and national leaders have been working relentlessly to define a vision for Europe. Several scenarios were outlined by the European Commission. Discussions and consultations were organised, plans sketched, solutions formulated.
As we approach the European elections and the political discourse increases in toxicity, the time has come to restore the true meaning of the European Union to avoid it becoming once again the scapegoat of countries' inability to face the transformations of the 21st century.
The process of making decisions on the future of Europe will be clarified during the informal summit of heads of state and government in Sibiu on 9 May. In the run up to this summit and the upcoming European Parliament elections, on 20 March 2019 the Committee adopted an exhaustive opinion entitled Listening to the citizens of Europe for a sustainable future, which sets out the EESC’s vision for the future of Europe from the point of view of European civil society.
Culture is a powerful tool to build bridges between people and reinforce mutual understanding. Artistic freedom, enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU as well as the Treaty of the EU, is essential for development of our open democracies and our European values and identity. I, therefore, welcome the Council conclusions on an EU strategic approach to international cultural relations and a framework for action of 8 April.