Speakers bios

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Beatriz Rios,
Reporter, broadcast journalist & presenter

Beatriz Rios is a Brussels-based reporter, broadcast journalist and presenter covering European affairs for a number of Spanish and international publications, including the economic newspaper El Economista, the regional TV Telemadrid and the news site the Luxembourg Times. She is also a regular contributor to BBC, Times Radio and LN24 in Belgium, as well as a professional conferences’ host and moderator. She graduated in Journalism from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and holds a master degree in International Relations from the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Christa Schweng,
EESC President

Christa Schweng was elected President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in October 2020. She has been an EESC member for 22 years, working as rapporteur for several opinions.
She is the outgoing president of the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship and chaired the Labour Market Observatory from 2013 to 2015.
Ms Schweng gained deep expertise in social and employment issues, working as an advisor both at EU level and in her native Austria. Outside the EESC, she works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
She has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work since 1995 and has held every three years the rotating presidency of the Board of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work since 2001. She chaired the SMEunited Social Affairs Committee between 2001 and 2009.
Christa Schweng holds a master's degree in law from the University of Vienna.

Stefano Mallia,
EESC Group I President

Stefano Mallia has been elected President of the EESC Employers' Group in 2020 and has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2010. He served in different roles at the EESC before, e.g. as Vice-President of the Employers' Group and President of the Brexit follow-up Committee within the EESC.

Mr Mallia is an expert in EU affairs where he has specialised in EU Structural Funds and SME financing.  Over the years he has carried out assignments for the European Commission, the Government of Malta as well as private enterprises. He is also a former President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.
Furthermore, Mr Mallia is active in the private sector. Since 1998, he is a partner at EMCS Ltd., an economic analysis and business consultancy.

Oliver Röpke,
EESC Group II President

Oliver Röpke was elected president of the Workers' Group in March 2019, having been a member of the Committee since 2009. He is a member of the Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) and Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT) Sections, where he has been rapporteur of several opinions and member of the Bureau. He has also been president of the Permanent Study Group on Social Economy Enterprises. Mr. Röpke was the head of Office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) from 2008 until 2019, and continues to be a member of the federal executive board. He is the representative as President of the Workers' Group at the ETUC. In the past, he has worked as an expert for the Austrian chamber of Labour, and in the Criminal and Labour courts of Vienna and the district court of St. Pölten. He graduated in Law for the University of Vienna, where he completed the doctoral seminars afterwards

Séamus Boland,
EESC Group III President

Séamus Boland has been the President of the EESC Diversity Europe Group since October 2020 and an EESC Member since 2011. He has held different roles at the Committee, including the Vice-Presidency of the Diversity Europe Group (2018-2020). In line with his policy and political interests – the eradication of poverty, social exclusion and inequality –, Mr Boland has chaired study groups and was rapporteur for various EESC opinions. Mr Boland currently sits on the SOC and ECO Sections of the Committee as well as on the CCMI. In addition to the Group Presidency, he holds several other roles outside the EESC. Since 2001, he is CEO of Irish Rural Link. Since 2018, he is a Board Member of Inland Fisheries Ireland and since 2012 Chair of Peatlands Council. Mr Boland is a farmer and has worked in civil society for over 40 years. This has included young people, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and rural people living in rural isolation. From 2007-2013, he was a member of the first Press Council of Ireland. He is a trained Speech and Drama Educator.

Bijan Moini,
German lawyer and writer

Bijan Moini is a German attorney (Rechtsanwalt) and the legal counsel of the Berlin-based Society for Civil Rights (Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte), where he pursues strategic lititgation. Since 2020, he is also the president of the Everyone Foundation (Stiftung Jeder Mensch) which, alongside German author Ferdinand von Schirach, promotes six new fundamental rights for the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Moini studied law and political science in Munich and Paris, and later received his doctor’s degree with a thesis supervised by Hans-Jürgen Papier. After completing his legal clerkship in Berlin and Hong Kong, he worked for three years as a lawyer in a law firm focused on commercial law and litigation, at which he also set-up a pro bono asylum law practice. After quitting his job he wrote the novel The Cube (Der Würfel), which was later followed by two non-fiction books.

Cillian Lohan,
EESC Vice-President

Cillian Lohan has been vice-president for Communication of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) since October 2020, and an active member of the institution since 2015.
He has worked extensively in the corporate and environmental sectors.
He is a leader in the field of the Circular Economy and was the inaugural chair of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, which he helped to establish. Cillian has extensive experience as a delegate to the United Nations, working on initiatives such as the COP climate negotiations and the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
As CEO of the Green Economy Foundation, he has overseen ambitious projects including the planting of over one million trees in Ireland and the establishment of a wildlife reserve in Tobago.
Cillian graduated from University College Cork and the University of Ulster with a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Science.

Colin Scicluna,
Head of Cabinet of Vice President of European Commission Dubravka Šuica

Dr. Colin Scicluna joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta in 1994 and has been posted to Brussels, Dublin, Helsinki and the United Nations in New York. He has also served in the EU Negotiations Secretariat in the Office of the Prime Minister (2000-03), the Policy Unit of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana (2006-10) and the European External Action Service (2011-12).

He was appointed Ambassador of Malta to Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Kosovo, as well as Permanent Representative to the OSCE and the multilateral bodies in Vienna, from 1 February 2012.

On 1 September 2013, he was appointed Middle East and North Africa Adviser in the Cabinet of the EU High Representative for CFSP and Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton.

From 1 November 2014 until 31 December 2016, he served as Adviser on the Southern Neighbourhood of the EU in the Cabinet of the Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

On 1 January 2017, High Representative Federica Mogherini appointed him Director and Deputy Managing Director for the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf region in the European External Action Service.

On 1 December 2019, he was appointed Head of Cabinet to the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica Ambassador Scicluna is a graduate in Law (University of Malta) and International Politics (Université Libre de Bruxelles).

Dr. Scicluna speaks Maltese, English, Italian, French and Dutch.

Frank Heemskerk,
Secretary General of the European Round Table for Industry (ERT)

Frank Heemskerk is the Secretary General of the European Round Table for Industry (ERT), having taken on the role in January 2019.

ERT is a forum of around 60 Chief Executives and Chairs of multinational companies with their roots in Europe. They are united by a vision for a strong, open and competitive Europe, as a driver for inclusive growth and sustainable prosperity.

Frank Heemskerk graduated with an economics degree in 1994 from the University of Amsterdam and spent an Erasmus year in Leuven, Belgium. Soon after, he began his career at ABN AMRO Bank where he held various positions until 2003, when he pursued a career in politics.

Between 2003 and 2006, he was a Member of Parliament for the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA). Between 2007 and 2010 Frank Heemskerk was Minister for Foreign Trade, also responsible for Telecoms & IT, SMEs and the better regulations agenda.

Since retiring from national politics, Frank Heemskerk has held various professional positions. Between 2013 and 2018, he was an Executive Director of the World Bank, where he also chaired the World Bank Group Audit Committee. He sat on the Executive Board of Royal HaskoningDHV (2011-2013), a global engineering and project management consultancy.

Since November 2018 Frank Heemskerk is a visiting lecturer in Geo-Economics at Leiden University, faculty of Governance & Global Affairs. In June 2020 Frank Heemskerk was elected as Chair of the Board of Amnesty International in the Netherlands.

Luca Visentini,
General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation

Luca Visentini was re-elected for a second term as ETUC General Secretary at the 14th Congress in Vienna in 2019, having already served four years as General Secretary, and before that four years as ETUC Confederal Secretary. As General Secretary, Luca is responsible for guiding and coordinating ETUC policy. This includes high-level meetings with EU and national leaders, institutions and social partner organisations, representing the Confederation in international and European fora and affiliates’ initiatives, coordinating the relationship with affiliates, supervising the budget and human resources, and keeping ETUC staff involved in European policy developments affecting trade unions. Luca has taken part in negotiations at EU level on the European Pillar of Social Rights, the future of Europe, relaunching European social dialogue, public investment, economic governance and many other issues of importance to European workers. Luca Visentini has been active in the trade union movement since 1989, with experience and involvement in collective bargaining at confederation, national and sectoral level. He has been taking part in ETUC activities since 1997, and before that contributed to UIL’s work as General Secretary in one of the 20 Italian regions and as a member of the UIL steering and executive committees.

Nini Tsiklauri,
EU activist, Author, Actress and Political scientist

Nini Tsiklauri is an artist, author and European activist who grew up in Hungary, Georgia and Germany. She speaks five languages and firmly believes in the power of civil society, which can tear down borders and unite Europe. In 2017 she started the citizens' movement “Pulse of Europe” in Vienna and the project “Europe Lab Austria“. With “The Young European Collective” she published appeals to the young European generation, such as the book “Who, If Not Us?! A four step guide to empower Europe and our generation.” With her latest book “Let's fight for Europe”, she makes a fiery plea for a common, solidarity and united Europe as a beacon of peace and freedom. Due to her fame as an actress among young people in German-speaking countries, she inspires young people in particular for political engagement. She is also committed to Georgian-European relations.

Giulia Barbucci,
EESC Vice President

Giulia Barbucci is Member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2015 and Vice-President in charge of budget since 2020.
Since 2001, she has been working as a full-time officer in the European and International Policy section at CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro), the largest Italian trade union confederation. Before this position, she worked in other departments of CGIL: since 1997 in the Industrial Relations and Collective Bargaining Department and from 1989 to 1996 in the International Department in charge of Western European countries.
Since 2009 she is Member of the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and since 2007 deputy member of its Women's Committee; member of the European Social Dialogue Committee and of the Working Group on Workers' participation. She took part in European social partner negotiations and participated in the Italian transposition of many European directives.

Siegfried Mureşan,
Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the European People's Party

Siegfried Mureșan is a Member of the European Parliament since 2014, Vice President of the European People’s Party and Vice Chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament. He is also Chair for the Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Moldova and member in the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and monetary Affairs.
He was Parliament’s Rapporteur for the 2017 EU Budget and co-rapporteur for the establishment of the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
He holds a degree from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest and a Master’s degree in economics and management science from Humboldt University in Berlin.

Kim Söderström,
trade unionist

Kim Söderström is a 46-year-old construction worker, a concrete fixer by trade. He is currently elected as the Regional President at Byggnads GävleDala and is located in Central Sweden. His region represents 8000 members. He is engaged in social welfare and trade union issues and works hard to ensure that all workers, disregard less of origin have good and safe conditions working in Sweden. In addition to trade union issues, he has a great interest in society. He wants society to play a bigger role in making people feel better and equal. His role includes trying to improve the members' conditions on a daily basis. This includes negotiating with employers, writing debate articles and influencing politicians both locally and the Swedish and European parliaments.

Martyna Pawlak,
student and youth activist

Martyna Pawlak is a youth activist that has been involved in several campaigns, including the Conference on the Future of Europe youth campaign 'Stand for Something', the Leaving Cert 2022 campaign in Ireland, amongst others. She is a member of the Youth Work Ireland's National Youth Action Group, the Irish Red Cross and is an active advocate for many social causes, including fighting homophobia and transphobia in Europe, reform of education and climate action.

Ninni Norra,
Finland's citizen representative in the Conference on the Future of Europe

Ninni Norra was appointed by the Finnish Government to serve as Finland’s citizens’ representative in the Conference on the Future of Europe. She is a key figure in the national events organised under the Conference and a member of the working group on values and rights, rule of law, and security. Prior to her current duties Norra has taken various roles in youth organisations around the subject of European politics. Her experience is related to European economy, labour market issues, and foreign policy.

Clément Beaune,
Secretary of State for European Affairs to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France

Clément Beaune is a graduate of the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and of the Bruges College of Europe (“Montesquieu” year). He is an alumnus of the French National School of Public Administration (ENA) (“Willy Brandt” year).

After leaving ENA in 2009, Clément Beaune joined the Budget Directorate, as Deputy Head of the Finance Acts Bureau.
In 2011, he became Deputy Head of the Research and Higher Education Bureau.
From 2013 to 2014, Clément Beaune was a technical adviser (budget) to the Prime Minister.
From 2014 to 2016, he was European, International and Budgetary Affairs Adviser to the Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector.
From 2016 to 2017, he was Deputy CEO of ADP Management.
From 2017 to 2020, Clément Beaune was a Special Adviser within the Diplomatic Unit of the Presidency of the Republic.

On July 26, 2020, he is appointed Secretary of State for European Affairs to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in the Jean Castex government

Alice Krutilova,
Director of the Department for the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU at Office of the Government of the Czech Republic

Alice Krutilova is the Director of the Department for the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU at the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic. In this role, she leads the Prague team responsible for coordination and implementation of programme, organizational, logistical, and communication preparations of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, which will take place in the second half of 2022.
Ms Krutilová studied European Studies at the French University of Sciences Po in Paris, and has more than 10 years of experience in EU policies. After finishing her studies, she enrolled the Office of the Government and during her several years of work there she has covered a wide spectrum of European policies, from the European Semester, the to the coordination of Internal Market and competitiveness policies, and she eventually became the Head of Unit of COREPER I. Moreover, she also served at the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU as Mertens. Afterwards, she coordinated the negotiation of the UK's withdrawal agreement from the EU for two years. Since 2019 she has been back at the Government Office of the Czech Republic, where she works in the Section for EU Affairs.

Eva Sjögren,
Director General for EU Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office of Sweden

Eva Sjögren is Director General for EU Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office of Sweden

  • 2018- Director General for EU Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, Stockholm
  • 2015-2018 Director and Head of the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies
  • 2013-2015 Director and Head of the Secretariat for EU Coordination, Ministry for Rural development and Ministry for Enterprise and innovation
  • 2010-2013 Head of Division at the Swedish National Board of Trade
  • 2007-2010 Deputy Head of the EU Coordination Secretariat, Ministry for Rural development
  • 2002-2007 Counsellor (Mertens), the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU
  • 2000-2002 Agricultural attaché, the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU
  • 1997-2000 Desk Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
  • 1995-1997 Analyst, Swedish National Audit Office
  • 1994-1995 Analyst, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency