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Over 30 members of the European Economic and Social Committee, representing trade unions, employers and various civil society associations have recently travelled to 11 EU countries and Turkey to assess how these countries are coping with the influx of refugees.

Ververidis Vasilis /

A delegation from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) carried out earlier this week a visit to Bulgaria to hear first-hand from civil society organisations dealing with the migration and refugee situation on the ground. This visit is part of a total of 12 missions organised by the EESC to 11 EU countries plus Turkey, which started with Austria in December 2015 and will finish with the visit to Turkey in February 2016.

© Conseil économique et social du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg

The EESC President joined in the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Luxembourg Economic and Social Council (ESC), which were also attended by HRH Grand-Duke Henri, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Mars di Bartolomeo, and the Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel.



In the framework of the COP 21 conference, this opinion and the two others that the EESC adopted at the same time ((TEN/577 and TEN/578) call for a better use of low-carbon energies and a better balance between markets and regulation with the participation of consumers, as well as for an urgent solution to the obstacles to self-production.


Europe needs the courage to change from carbon-based energy generation

COP21 was a success, as it resulted in an ambitious, universal framework. But for this success to continue, we will need to change the way we organise our energy dependent economies.  Civil society can play a key role in bringing about this change.  In terms of energy, we need to facilitate decarbonisation. The burden of transition from a carbon dependent society must be shared equally and fairly, and where necessary also accompanied by social plans. The transition will also bring opportunities for the EU economy and we should seize them.


2016 will be a tough year for the EU with numerous challenges ahead. The employers have a role to play in the current situation. The better the EU economy performs, the more the EU can focus on geopolitics or the refugee crisis. Therefore it is crucial for all employers' organisations to ensure that the business environment allows European companies to grow. These were some of the conclusions that emerged from the debate with the heads of BUSINESSEUROPE and Copa-Cogeca that took place during the meeting of the Employers' Group. The representatives of both organisations presented their priorities for the coming months.


On 14-15 January, four projects funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development held a conference in Brussels, co-hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee, to present their findings, conceptual developments, concrete messages and policy recommendations on Responsible Research and Innovation.