Safeguarding the values and achievements of the European Union, such as freedom of movement under the Schengen agreements and social progress, topped the agenda for talks between Georges Dassis (European Economic and Social Committee) and Martin Schulz (European Parliament). The two presidents agreed to step up cooperation between the two institutions, with a particular view to putting together practical proposals on a future European pillar of social rights: the Committee has long fostered debate on a social protocol that would guarantee high social standards and ensure that European social systems would be levelled upwards. Parliament could request the Committee to draw up an exploratory opinion on a set of social rights.
Alarmed at the plight of refugees in Europe and the situation of migrants, the Committee has also highlighted the leading role of civil society organisations who are providing emergency assistance to victims and making up for the shortcomings in the Member States' management of this crisis. It plans to forward a full report on the situation to the European Parliament by March, using information gathered in the field during fact-finding missions to 11 EU countries. The Committee president also invited his counterpart at the Parliament to speak at the Committee's plenary session in February, which would largely focus on upholding the Schengen agreements.
Completion of Economic and Monetary Union is also crucial: it must be capable of generating the growth needed to create jobs, and must become more robust by boosting the democratic legitimacy of its governance, which in turn implies a greater role for Parliament and civil society involvement.