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As British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a new attempt by a cross-party group of MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit and enable parliament to force ministers to seek a delay if there is no deal in place, we believe that the UK Parliament must make one last-minute effort to find common ground on the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard Brexit.
I have been following closely the latest developments and I fully support the swift entry into force and full implementation of the Prespa Agreement between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the change of name of the latter into Republic of North Macedonia. I hope that the resolution of this long-standing issue, which is an example of reconciliation for Europe, will pave the way for the opening of the EU accession negotiations with this Western Balkans country in June 2019, as foreseen by the Council Conclusions adopted in June 2018.
I welcome the much-awaited reflection paper of the European Commission "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030". I wish to congratulate First Vice-President Timmermans and Vice-President Katainen for this result. Now there is another window of opportunity to further push the sustainable development agenda, which must become the EU's top priority for the next decade. Let us be clear though: this is only the beginning of the road towards an ambitious and successful implementation of the sustainable agenda.
As we prepare to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we can hardly remain composed in our mourning. Rather than observe silence as the deepest mourning is solitary, we feel like shouting. Why is anti-Semitism not dead, not in Europe and not even in the United States? Why in France last year was a Holocaust survivor stabbed and burned to death in her apartment? Why the year before was a retired kindergarten teacher, Sarah Halimi, murdered and subsequently thrown from her Paris balcony?
I am saddened by the violent death of Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, the symbolic city of Solidarnosc, during a public charity event on Sunday. Adamowicz was a political lawyer who served as Mayor for over 20 years. His relentless work to build bridges between communities made him popular and respected in all circles. His ability to bring people together and find agreeable solutions for all was his strength. He will be remembered as the righteous man who helped build democracy, in Poland, and in Europe.
Witnessing the current discussions taking place in Katowice at COP24, I fear that not all have understood the urgency to tackle climate change; concrete measures need to be taken. Sustainable development and Agenda 2030 are the cornerstones to strengthen the European project. Tackling climate change is part of this agenda and this is why COP 24 must deliver and adopt an Agenda for hope and for future generation. Today, the EESC, had an excellent discussion with European Commission First Vice-President, Mr Frans Timmermans, on sustainable development.
On Monday, the UN’s Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was agreed by the majority of UN states, following 18 months of debate. However, some EU countries have pulled out of the process: the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and Austria, which currently holds the EU presidency. These countries have turned on their heels and abandoned the first ever international deal on the migration crisis, a deal reached by 164 nations and which has put in place a new solidarity mechanism.
Taking office in April 2018, President Luca Jahier has launched an agenda for change based on three priorities: sustainable development, peace and culture. Articulating his workprogramme on those priorities, Jahier called for a new Renaissance, a vast and powerful humanistic movement that would allow the EU to bring to fruition the new transformative revolutions of the 21st century.
I welcome the results of the latest Eurobarometer: 68% of European citizens believe their country’s EU membership to be a good thing. Citizens seem to be more in tune with the EU than some of the leaders governing national member states seem to think. I also speak for my own country, Italy, where 64% of Italians considered positively staying in the European Union—a 5% jump from last year when they were 59%. I am pleased to see that citizens, despite the growing difficulties of our changing times, increasingly support the European Union.
Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament (EP), signed on 5 December a joint declaration in view of the European elections that will be held in May 2019.
Thank you for granting the Aquí Europa-Vocento Award to the European Economic and Social Committee for its contribution to European integration. In the year in which the EESC celebrates its sixtieth anniversary, this award encourages us even more to continue our work of making the voices and interests of civil society heard in decision-making at European Union level.
Non-state and subnational actors have so far played a decisive role in action on climate, but they often face unsurmountable obstacles. At the COP 24 climate change conference in Katowice, Poland, on 2-14 December 2018, the president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Luca Jahier, stressed how urgent it was to tackle climate change and underlined the fact that Europe needed to embrace a new mechanism for sustainability that included multi-stakeholder governance.
We believe strongly that community-led action on sustainability is key to implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. We want to state it loud and clear that without action by citizens, communities, municipalities, businesses and other groups of civil society we will simply not be able to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
On 25 November the EU Heads of State signed the Withdrawal Agreement after nearly two years of exhausting and complex negotiations. They agreed on a compromise based on a balance of rights and obligations, and close cooperation, that takes due account of the unique relation between the United Kingdom and the European Union after over 45 years of integration.
L'Europe est malade. Le pape François, il y a deux ans, nous a interpellés, nous les européens: "que vous est-il arrivé à vous, l'Europe de l'humanisme, la championne des droits de l'homme, de la démocratie et de la liberté?" Parce que le monde, mais aussi l'Europe, bascule dans le repli sur soi, les discours simples, sans nuances, qui divisent; le nationalisme se répand, les solidarités s'érodent; la raison, l'humanisme, et même la science et le progrès, sont remis en cause. Dans ce contexte, l'Europe, ses institutions, la société civile semblent être des remparts dérisoires.
The "LEONARDO: rEUnaissance today" project will be launched on 16 and 17 November in Rome. The project is a concrete expression of the slogan of the Presidency of Luca Jahier: "rEUnaissance" which is closely linked to one of the Presidency priorities: Culture. In a challenging time in European politics, and before the crucial European elections of May 2019, the EESC President looks to the Renaissance era for an inspiration for a positive narrative for the European Union of today.
Who would dispute that memory and commemoration are not part of the journey towards crafting stronger national identities? No historian, no anthropologist, no ethnographer would argue against that. However, as we prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through lengthy speeches, exhibits in historical museums, and brief visits to historic sites.
The EESC has been and will continue to advocate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda at a European level and beyond, transitioning to a society that is sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms. It is essential that organised civil society is fully involved and mobilised in relation to a future EU Sustainable Development Strategy.
This week, I exchanged views with representatives of national parliaments and Members of the European Parliament on the future of Europe as we have a co-responsibility in carving the narrative on the European Union. I presented what the Committee has done on the future of Europe and our plans ahead of Sibiu and the EU elections. Drawing conclusions from the wealth of activities, it is clear that whatever the Future of Europe will be, it will have to be citizens-driven.
The future is today – it is becoming reality faster than we can track and predict it. Just as people get to grips with one new technology, another one comes along. Our workers find it hard to keep up with the latest developments in tech. For some this is exciting, but others feel frightened.
Today, the EESC has adopted, with an overwhelming majority (140 votes for, 3 votes against and 7 abstentions) its opinion on the Multiannual Financial Framework, proposed by the Commission on 2 May. With less than 8 months to go before the European elections, this file is a crucial one as it measures the scale of our ambition for the future of our European Union.
I salute President Jean-Claude Juncker for today's State of the Union in the European Parliament. At the start of a difficult period, culminating with Brexit and the European elections of 23-26 May, the European Commission President has shown that it is essential for pro-Europeans to speak out, loudly and strongly, shouting that Europe is worth fighting for. His speech was not a farewell, despite being his last State of the Union address, but a comprehensive programme for the year ahead. There is no time to waste.
The responses to the multiple crises that the European Union has been confronted with have increasingly led European citizens to become disenchanted not only with the European Union itself but also with democratic institutions in general – both at the European and national level. There is a serious risk of EU citizens no longer seeing the added value of the EU for their living and working conditions as well as for their future perspectives and those of their children and for losing a common sense of belonging.
The subject of Culture is close to my heart– it is one of the four priorities of my presidency alongside peace, sustainable development and youth. These are the pillars of the new European Renaissance we must urgently strive for.
Culture is not only a driver of economic growth and social cohesion, it has been one of the drivers of European identity for many centuries.
In an inspiring speech, delivered on 18 April at the EESC plenary, which marked the end of the presidency of Georges Dassis and welcomed the new presidency of Mr Jahier, the new president set out the four priorities of his programme: sustainable development, promotion of peace, strengthening the role of culture and giving a voice to Europe’s young people.
Quote of the day
Without peace, there can be no growth, no decent jobs and no cohesion.
Without peace, there is no sustainable Europe.
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