The speech delivered by von der Leyen in the 2021 State of the Union Address has to be critically received, mainly for what it lacks in terms of ambition and clarity, despite naming virtually all the key challenges Europe faces.
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We generally welcome the Fit for 55 package of the European Commission, as the effort it constitutes to face many pressing environmental issues. Without decisive action to curb emissions we will be facing drastic ecological disturbances: extreme weather conditions, droughts, floods, drastic food and water shortages, and eventually a catastrophic rise in the sea levels resulting in the need to resettle the vast majority of human population, which inhabits coastlands around the globe.
Today, we witnessed a demonstration of Romanian workers, carrying their claim for decent wages and decent living conditions from Bucharest to Brussels – a journey similar to those of many Romanian workers who had to leave their country in search for a better life.
Respect for Fundamental Rights and respect for pluralism and diversity, protecting minorities and avoiding discrimination, are a fundamental pillar of the EU model.
The involvement of organised civil society and the EESC is crucial in ensuring the broad participation of citizens in the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), highlighted Christa Schweng, president of the European Economic and Social Committee, at the inaugural Conference Plenary in Strasbourg on 19 June. Ms Schweng took part in the plenary along with a delegation of 18 EESC members.
Almost one child in ten, in the world, is in child labour, many in activities that pose a constant risk or are detrimental to their health. The situation has been worsened with the COVID pandemic: while many schools moved to distant learning, almost half of the world has no access to the internet, leaving students even further behind. Deteriorating living and working standards, exacerbated by the pandemic, drive many of these children into even more dire situations.
On this 1st of May, we call for all workers, social partners, and policymakers in Europe to heed the call for a more social Europe, and to ensure that something as basic as work providing a living wage is enshrined in EU law and protected as much as any other fundamental right and freedom. This is the only way forward for a sustainable social, economic, and environmental future.
Today, workers all over the world will take the time to honour the memory of colleagues, both known and unknown, killed at work or who have died from a work-related illness. The EESC Workers' Group joins in this day of remembrance and supports the call from the international trade union movement that occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Workers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) expresses its full solidarity and support to all Belgian workers taking part in the general strike on 29 March and their trade union confederations. We stand with Belgian workers taking action to defend their right to decent pay, including higher minimum wages for the lowest paid workers.