Georges Dassis, president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), received his counterpart, Patrick Bernasconi, president of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC). Mr Bernasconi gave a speech entitled “The Economic and Social Councils and the expectations of European civil society” and took part in the discussions of EESC members on this issue of crucial importance for European citizens and those who represent their organisations at all levels.
Following on from a meeting between the two presidents in Brussels and a mission to Paris by a delegation of French EESC members in March 2016, the purpose of this official visit was to exchange ideas on topics to be addressed by both the French ESEC and the EESC.
A good example is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States, which has been the subject of an ESEC opinion drawn up by rapporteur Christophe Quarez, who is also an EESC member, and several EESC opinions. Other key subjects likely to be discussed obviously include the migration crisis and the introduction of a European Pillar of Social Rights.
“Against a background of crisis in Europe, driven by a high level of public distrust of the political class, the economic, social and environmental councils have a crucial role to play in the public dialogue and the democratic debate, whether at national or European level,” said Mr Dassis.
“It is essential to strengthen the dialogue and cooperation between our two assemblies, since the issues that really affect people’s lives, on which we are working in the social, economic and environmental areas, have a systematic European and even international resonance”, Patrick Bernasconi agreed.
The meeting also aimed to identify subjects of common interest for future work, in the form of joint events involving the two institutions and the main European and national representatives of politics and civil society in a Europe which is today fragile and under threat.