In 2004 the European Union experienced its biggest enlargement so far, welcoming 10 new Member States. A decade later, members of the Employers' Group representing employers' organisations from these countries summarise the changes that have taken place thanks to accession to the EU.
The organisation of the annual ECI Day - which I hope will remain a landmark in years to come with more and more partners on board - is also clear proof of our commitment to initiate dialogue on this tool. Last year's event was only a small seminar to celebrate the launch of the ECI process, but it attracted many people.
We have also supported the ECI process by hosting technical working groups on the online signature collection software, bringing together IT experts and ECI organisers to see what can be improved on (participants will hear about the ongoing work during the afternoon's panel).
This afternoon we would like to make an assessment of the work we have done together and I would like us to have an open and honest debate about the way forward for this group to function in the best way possible. Thank you very much for the four contributions we received to our questionnaire. We wanted to survey all members before this meeting, but I believe this format, this space and time is also a good opportunity to assess and talk about the future prospects. It is also my last meeting as co-chair of the EESC Liaison Group.
This is the fourth edition of the Civil Society Day, so this initiative is rather young however with a solid ground. And let me tell you why. The Civil Society Day is the living proof of a partnership which is dear to me and to many of us in the EESC, a partnership between the EESC and European civil society expert networks in the form of what we call the Liaison Group. It is in the Liaison Group meetings last year that the civil society alliance for the European Year of Citizens was conceived and took form. This alliance is our partner for this conference and its members, European networks and national networks are here with us today.