The members of the European Economic and Social Committee, my colleagues for over ten years now, have just done me the honour of electing me to be their new president. As a labour activist and representative of civil society within the EESC, I have always fought to make Europe more democratic and more socially cohesive.
Fostering international trade is beneficial for companies, consumers and employees. In 15 years' time, 90% of global demand will come from outside the EU. Therefore, establishing a simple and predictable trade policy should be a priority for the EU as one of the main factors in boosting growth and creating new jobs. The participants at the conference on the Role of international trade in the reindustrialisation of Europe discussed the future of EU trade policy, the role of FTAs and how to revive European industry through trade and investment. The conference took place in Milan on 26 October and was organised by the EESC Employers' Group, together with Confcommercio and AICE (Italian Association of Foreign Trade).
On 23 October the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) co-organised a seminar entitled Will the Climate Conference keep its promises? The seminar was organised by the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the Union of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions of the Francophone Member States and governments (UCESIF), the Union of Economic and Social Councils of Africa (UESA) and the World Forum for a Responsible Economy, in preparation for COP21.
During a ceremony at the EESC, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has appointed the musician Ozark Henry as its Goodwill Ambassador for Belgium against human trafficking. The appointment of this a well-known Belgian performing artist is aimed at increasing visibility and assisting in mobilizing support in the country to tackle human trafficking.
Today the European Commission announces measures aiming to step up the integration of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), without changes to the treaties.
Shortly after the beginning of his mandate as EESC President, Georges Dassis met with the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans. Mr Dassis presented the EESC's recommendations for the Commission's 2016 annual Work Programme. Among others, these included accelerated economic integration and convergence, strengthening democracy in the EU, reinforcing the European social model, and establishing a new migration policy.
"Appropriate finance facilities for businesses are a key prerequisite for economic growth". The 1st European Microfinance Day (EMD) on 19 and 20 Oct 2015 was co-organised by the EESC to raise awareness of microfinance as a tool to fight social exclusion and unemployment in Europe. In the presence of Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, the President of the EESC´s ECO Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion, Mr Joost van Iersel, underlined the importance in the EU of strengthening competitiveness, sustainable development and social inclusion.
On 15 October 2015, the ECO Section of the EESC organised a workshop under the title "Partnership – the key to successful urban development" in the course of the Open Days 2015. The workshop, chaired by Joost van Iersel, president of the ECO Section, looked at the cases of Glasgow and Vilnius. Although the two cities have a very different socio-economic background, their major projects clearly demonstrate their commitment to an innovative and sustainable urban development based on broad partnership. The objective of the workshop was to identify the various stakeholders and their roles, as well as how dialogue between them works and how it could be improved in order to contribute to better urban development.
The Employers' Group welcomes the Commission's new trade strategy presented today by Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström. "The European Commission listened closely to key concerns raised by Civil Society and the strategy represents a positive agenda for business" – stated Jonathan Peel, Member of the Employers' Group and the EESC rapporteur on the review of the EU Trade Policy.
Following the renewal, the members of the Employers' Group approved the Group's earlier proposals for the Group president and the presidents and vice-presidents of the sections and observatories. The Group elected its vice-presidents, as well as the members of the Group bureau and the EESC bureau. Jacek Krawczyk was re-elected president of the Group.