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 numerous 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 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. 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.
EESC Vice-president for Communication
Cillian Lohan was elected Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee in October 2020, and has been an active member of the institution since 2015.
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 UN, 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.
President, Economic and Social Council of Portugal
Francisco Assis was born in Amarante in 1965 and has a degree in Philosophy from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Porto. He was Mayor of Amarante from 1989 to 1995 and has since then occupied several positions in the Portuguese Socialist Party. He was a member of the Portuguese Parliament (from 1995 to 2002 and from 2009 to 2014), President of the Socialist Parliamentary Group (from 1997 to 2002 and from 2009 to 2011) and member of the European Parliament (from 2004 to 2009 and from 2014 to 2019). Currently he is the President of the Portuguese Economic and Social Council.
Secretary general, International Federation of Journalists
Anthony Bellanger is a French journalist, trade unionist and historian with a PhD in history.
Since 2015, he has been the General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), based in Brussels. It is the world's largest journalism organisation, currently representing more than 600 000 journalists in 150 countries around the world.
On top of his work for the IFJ, he has been a freelance journalist for various international media outlets since 2014. They include Le Monde Diplomatique, Mediapart, Equal Times, L'Humanité and Hommes & Libertés and the magazine of the Human Rights League.
Since 2020, Anthony Bellanger has been working as a professor of international journalism at the School of Journalism of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.
President, EESC Diversity Europe Group
Séamus Boland has been the President of the EESC's Diversity Europe Group since October 2020. His policy and political interests include the eradication of poverty, social exclusion and inequality. 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. He has been CEO of Irish Rural Link since 2001, a Board Member of Inland Fisheries Ireland since 2018 and Chair of Peatlands Council since 2012. Mr Boland is a farmer and has worked in civil society for over 40 years, including with young people, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and people living in rural isolation. From 2007 to 2013, he was a member of the first Press Council of Ireland. He is a trained Speech and Drama Educator.
President, Centre for International Relations
Political scientist, consultant and media commentator, Dr Bonikowska is a former Fulbright scholar and holds a PhD in European studies and history. She is currently President of the Centre for International Relations, a leading independent Polish foreign affairs think tank, and publisher of the “THINKTANK” journal. She specialises in European affairs and international relations.
Throughout her career, Dr Bonikowska has served as advisor to several Polish Ministers and from 1998-2001, was head of Poland's European Information Centre. Between 2001 and 2017, she worked as a European Commission expert and Director of the EU Information and Communication Programme in Poland and Bulgaria and as a senior advisor at the Polish Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Dr Bonikowska has also worked as a consultant and an expert on EU enlargement and neighbourhood policy.
Matthew Caruana Galizia,
Journalist, director and co-founder, Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
Matthew Caruana Galizia
Matthew Caruana Galizia is the Director of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation. He has worked on major investigations such as the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers. Since 2018, Matthew has been working on the case surrounding the killing of his mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was assassinated in 2017 following her investigations into corruption in Malta. Since then, Matthew and his family have worked tirelessly to tackle impunity when it comes to corruption and the murder of journalists in Europe and beyond.
Brussels correspondent, ASKA NEWS
Born in Brindisi, Italy, Lorenzo Consoli has worked as a journalist in Brussels since 1991. He covered stories for news agencies, newspapers, radio and specialist magazines until October 2000. Between 2000 and 2003, he worked for the Greenpeace EU unit in Brussels.
Returning to journalism in April 2003, Mr Consoli has since worked for the Italian news agency Apcom, now called Askanews. He has dealt with every domain of EU affairs, with a particular focus on institutional issues and environmental, climate, agriculture, health, consumer and energy policies.
Between 2006 and 2010, Mr Consoli was the president of the Brussels International Press Association (Api). Between 2010 and 2020, he was a visiting lecturer for the Executive Master in European Journalism and Communication at the IHECS in Brussels.
Associate researcher, CEPS
Francesco Corti is an Associate Researcher at the CEPS think tank on EU affairs and Adjunct Professor of European economic governance at the University of Milan. An expert in European social and employment policies, EU budget, EMU governance, and social investment, Francesco has provided research and advisory services to various Brussels-based think tanks and EU institutions. He served as policy advisor to an MEP in the ECON Committee between 2016 and 2019.
Francesco holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Milan. He was a visiting fellow at the European Social Observatory (OSE) and a member of the Young Academic Network of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS).
Anniek de Ruijter,
Co-initiator of the European Health Union, Manifesto initiative and associate professor, University of Amsterdam
Anniek de Ruijter is Associate Professor of Health Law and Policy at the University of Amsterdam and Director of the Law Centre for Health and Life. Her research focuses on questions regarding constitutional safeguards for health-specific rights and values, also in the context of EU and global regulatory interactions. She works in interdisciplinary collaboration within biomedical, public health, economic and social science consortia and is the co-lead on two interdisciplinary research consortia, on Global Health and on AI Decision-making in Health. She is a board member of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and is also on the editorial board of the European Journal Risk Regulation and on the editorial advisory board of The Lancet Regional Health Europe. She is the co-initiator of the European Health Union Manifesto initiative (with the Gastein Forum).
Co-founder of Hungarian news portal Telex
Márton Kárpáti has been the CEO of Telex.hu, Hungary's new independent news portal, and the owner of its publisher, Van Másik Ltd., since August 2020. He co-founded Telex.hu after leaving Hungary's biggest news site, Index.hu, where he had been deputy editor-in-chief since 2013 and where he managed the entire editorial team, which included not only the newsroom, but also the video and photo section.
Mr Kárpáti, who describes himself as an "obsessive believer in freedom, both of individuals and of the press", was among the editors and almost ninety employees to leave Index.hu following a dispute with the new owners over the sacking of the site's lead editor.
From 2004 to 2013, he worked as political editor at both Index and TV2. He began his career in journalism as a political correspondent for the MTI news agency, where he first worked as a crime reporter.
Global democracy correspondent, Swiss Broadcasting Corporation
Bruno Kaufmann is the Global Democracy Correspondent for the Swiss Broadcasting Company. He studied political science and conflict studies at the Universities of Zurich, Gothenburg and Hawaii and holds a MA in Social Sciences. As a journalist he has worked for daily and weekly newspapers in Switzerland and Germany, as well as public radio and TV in Sweden and Switzerland. Bruno is the author of the "European Democracy Passport" (available in 24 languages) and has published extensively on participatory and direct democracy at the transnational level, including many publications on the European Citizens Initiatives. Bruno Kaufmann lives with his family in Arboga/Sweden, where he serves as a water councillor for the municipality.
Head of foreign news, Kathimerini
Xenia Kounalaki was born in Hamburg in 1971. She has worked as a journalist for daily newspaper Kathimerini since 1994 and as a weekly columnist and foreign news editor since 2007. She contributes news reports to Spiegel and Spiegel Online, Die Welt and The European.
She previously worked as a foreign news editor for the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) and presented her own TV programme. In 2012, she was awarded the ISF (Information Safety and Freedom) international press freedom prize in Florence. That same year, she co-authored the book Βία (Violence) on political violence. In 2016 she published a memoir titled Στις ταινίες κλαίω στις πιο άσχετες στιγμές (I cry during the most random movie scenes), a journalist’s account of living and working in Greece during the crisis. Her short essay titled Antisemitism in Greece and her first novel Οξυγόνο (Oxygen) were both published in 2019.
Zuzana Kovačič Hanzelová,
Video reporter for Denník SME
Zuzana Kovačič Hanzelová
Zuzana Kovačič Hanzelová has worked as a video reporter for Denník SME since November 2018. Before that, she worked for seven years for the Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTS). Together with 11 other reporters, she left the public broadcaster in May 2018 as a protest against the management, which they said was trying to favour Russian propaganda and the governing party in the news. She covers mainly politics, but also topics about minorities and social issues.
Miguel Poiares Maduro,
Professor, Catholic University of Portugal and European University Institute, Florence
Miguel Poiares Maduro currently holds the chair at the Global School of Law of the Catholic University of Portugal. He is also Director of the Gulbenkian Foundation's Future Forum and Executive Board chair of the European Digital Media Observatory. A former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, Prof. Maduro has taught, both as a regular or visiting professor, at several top law schools in Portugal, Europe and the USA, including the Yale Law School, the London School of Economics and the College of Europe. He headed the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence where he continues to be a visiting professor. From 2013 to 2015 he was Minister Adjunct to the Portuguese Prime Minister and the Minister for Regional Development. He chaired the Governance and Review Committee of FIFA. He has a Doctorate in Law from the EUI.
Head of Brussels office, Reporters without Borders
Julie Majerczak has been the EU representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the international press freedom NGO, since April 2016. Before joining RSF, Julie was a journalist for 16 years. She moved to Brussels in 2002 to report on EU affairs for the French daily newspaper Libération for which she worked for ten years. She also reported for the French daily newspaper Le Parisien, RTL radio and the online media outlets Contexte and Novethic. Before that, Julie worked in politics as an MEP's assistant and as a political adviser to a French environment minister. Born in Paris, she has a Master's in Law and is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris.
EU health expert, Jacques Delors Institute
Associate researcher on health matters at the Jacques Delors Institute since March 2020, Isabelle Marchais has written several commentaries on the health crisis, in particular on the COVAX mechanism, the future Health Authority, the COVID certificate and the vaccine race. She is also a member of the working group on health set up by the Jacques Delors Institute. A graduate of the Paris Political Institute, she previously followed the European Union as a journalist and worked for many elements of the French media, including Libération, the Société Générale de Presse and finally L'Opinion, for which she was the Brussels correspondent from 2013 to 2019.
President, EESC Employers' Group
Stefano Mallia was elected President of the EESC Employers' Group in 2020 and has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2010. He has served in different roles at the EESC, including as Vice-President of the Employers' Group and President of the Brexit Follow-up Committee.
Mr Mallia is an expert in EU affairs, specialising in EU Structural Funds and SME financing. Over the years, he has carried out assignments for the European Commission, the Maltese government as well as private enterprises. He is a former President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.
Mr Mallia is also active in the private sector. Since 1998, he has been a partner at EMCS Ltd., an economic analysis and business consultancy.
Raquel Morão Lopes,
Journalist, European Affairs specialist, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal
Raquel Morão Lopes
Raquel Morão Lopes has been European news programme co-editor-in-chief at the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP since 2018. Before that, she was Brussels correspondent for RTP's radio news channel Antena 1 from 2015 to 2017, where she covered the 2016 terrorist attacks, the European migrant crisis, the Greek government debt crisis and Brexit. She has been with the RTP Radio since 2005, as a news anchor, team coordinator and reporter specialising in economic affairs. Raquel began her career in journalism at the LUSA news agency with an internship in 2004. In 2017, she was a finalist for the Fernando de Sousa Journalism Award for her special feature "La Petite École". Currently, she also does voice-over narration for documentaries.
Ana Rita Moura,
European Parliament, Media Relations
Ana Rita Moura works in the Media Services Unit of the Directorate-General for Communication in the European Parliament. Together with press officers based in the Member States, Ms Moura liaises with the European media on a daily basis.
She holds a Master's degree in Public Relations Strategic Management and has worked in different areas of communication for the last 20 years, mostly in the public sector. She joined the European Parliament in 2013 and had the chance to be involved in communicating on several democratic exercises, including two European elections and now the Conference on the Future of Europe and the Citizens' Panels. Previously, she worked for different media organisations - Google, the European Commission and UNMIT.
She is passionate about the EU, democracy, human rights, communication, travelling, meeting new people and sci-fi.
Member of the Portuguese Parliament
Member of the Portuguese Parliament and President of the National Department of the Social Women, Elza Pais works tirelessly to champion women's and LGBTI rights, fighting against all kinds of discrimination as a politician, academic and author. Her main focus is on domestic abuse, women's empowerment, gender equality, drug prevention and social integration.
A former Secretary of State for Equality, she also chaired parliamentary commissions for equality and the Portuguese Institute for Drug Abuse and Addiction. She dealt with the same topics while working as a professor at the Portuguese Catholic University and does so in her current role as a researcher at Lisbon's top universities and research centres. She is the author of several books on domestic and gender violence and the winner of the 2007 Arco-Íris Award for her work against homophobia.
Associate professor, Nova School of Business & Economics, Lisbon
Susana Peralta has a PhD in Economics from the UCL, in Belgium. She is a public economist with an interest in taxation and transfers, fiscal federalism and political economy. Ms Peralta joined the Nova School of Business and Economics in 2004, where she is currently an Associate Professor. She also served as the academic director of the MSc and PhD in Economics.
Ms Peralta's work is published in academic journals such as The Economic Journal, the Journal of Public Economics, Public Choice, the Journal of Public Economic Theory, The Journal of International Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics and the Journal of Urban Economics.
She writes a weekly op-ed in the Portuguese mainstream newspaper Público, every Friday.
President, EESC Workers' Group
Oliver Röpke has been the president of the EESC Workers' Group since March 2019 and an EESC member since 2009. Currently sitting in the Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) and Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT) sections, he has been rapporteur of several opinions. He has also been a member of the EESC Bureau and president of the Permanent Study Group on Social Economy Enterprises. Mr Röpke has been the head of the Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) since 2008, a member of the federal executive board, ÖGB representative in the ETUC and a member of the Social Dialogue Committee. He holds a degree in law from the University of Vienna.
Head of Communication and spokesperson, European Commission Representation in Portugal
Daniel Rosario is currently the spokesperson of the European Commission's Representation in Portugal, where he has headed the Press & Communication team since September 2020. Mr Rosario joined the Spokesperson's Service (SPP) of the European Commission in 2014 as spokesperson in charge of Trade and Agriculture. He previously worked as a journalist for several Portuguese media outlets, including as a correspondent in Brussels for 15 years.
Brussels correspondent, DER SPIEGEL
Michael Sauga was born in 1959 in Goslar am Harz, Germany. He studied economics at the University of Cologne and worked as an editor for Wirtschaftswoche, Focus, and, from 2000, at Der Spiegel's Berlin office. Since March 2021, he has been economics and finance correspondent at Der Spiegel's Brussels office. He published the books Wer arbeitet ist der Dumme: die Ausbeutung der Mittelschicht (Only Dummies Work: The exploitation of the middle class) in 2007, and Gelduntergang: wie Banken und Politik unsere Zukunft verspielen (The Downfall of Money: how banks and politics gamble away our future) in 2012, which he co-wrote with Ursula Weidenfeld.
Journalist, ECO - Economia online
Mónica Silvares has been a journalist her whole life, but feels she always has something new to learn. She started her career as a journalist for a medical magazine, while she was still a third-year student of Communication Sciences at the NOVA University of Lisbon. Her journalism career seriously took off at Diário Económico, where she did a little bit of everything – from writing for the newspaper's international section, when there was still no Internet in the newsrooms, to working for the television station set up by the group. At the same time, Mónica worked for other publications, such as Negócios & Franchising and translated books about economics and management. She currently works for the online newspaper ECO.
Political correspondent, deputy editor-in-chief ONET.PL
Andrzej Stankiewicz is deputy editor-in-chief of Onet.pl, the largest independent news website in Poland. Before joining Onet in 2016, he was a journalist for the newspaper Rzeczpospolita and the weekly magazines Newsweek Polska and Wprost for almost 20 years. He is a political reporter, columnist and investigative journalist, and a three-time winner of the Grand Press award, the most important journalism award in Poland, for the best journalism of the year. Mr Stankiewicz is the co-author of the Bible of Journalism and several other books. He presents the most popular political podcast in Poland and a host of political programmes on national radio, and is a regular TV commentator.
He has twice successfully taken cases to the European Court of Human Rights, to overturn convictions in the Polish courts for his journalistic publications.