We are looking forward to working on the European Commission's three major initiatives: a Communication on "the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan", a Proposal for a Directive to "strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women through pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms" as well as on "the Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021 – 2030".
The forthcoming Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) is a sign of new thinking at EU level, bringing citizens right into the heart of policy-making with concrete power to drive systematic change, said Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica at the EESC Plenary.
On behalf of the European Economic and Social Committee I want to congratulate Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as Director-General of the World Trade Organization and I wish her a successful mandate. This appointment in itself brings wind of a much awaited change and marks a historic achievement.
We are deeply concerned at the humanitarian crisis that thousands of Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani migrants are currently facing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Regrettably, migrants are also experiencing the same inhumane treatment at other external borders of the EU and in countries such as Libya and Turkey, where they have been stranded on their way to the EU.
For weeks now, around 2 500 people, many of whom are unaccompanied minors, families with children and elderly people in need of medical assistance, have been left without basic shelter and are struggling to survive hunger, thirst and the freezing Balkan temperatures after the Lipa refugee camp in north-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina was burned down and closed.
For the first time after the signature of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement Michel Barnier, Head of the European Commission Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom, expressed publicly his views on the text during a debate at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) January plenary session. "This agreement starts a new era of our relationship with the UK, but we will have to face together a number of issues in the future", said Barnier.
During their meeting on 27 January 2021 EESC President Christa Schweng and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa stated that, at a time when everything was becoming a matter of urgency – vaccination, economic recovery, the climate and digital transitions, and the relaunch of the European Pillar of Social Rights – it was especially important to focus on quality delivery.