On January 14th, the President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), George Dassis, began his 2-day visit to Bulgaria. This is his first official visit at the invitation of a national Economic and Social Council of an EU Member State since he got elected EESC President in October 2015.
The first meeting of the Permanent Study Group on Services of General Interest took place on Wednesday 13 January 2016 at the EESC. The president of the group, Milena Angelova, presented the 2016 work programme, which was subsequently approved.
This is an ideal moment for populists and other hate-mongers: it is an opportunity for them to deceive vulnerable people by promising them a better future, a "golden dawn", provided they seek refuge behind inviolable borders as in the good old days.
The European project was born through the courage of men and women, who, in the wake of a frightful war, accompanied by the most heinous crimes, have ensured that we would cease to resolve problems with cannons. The human being is capable of the best but also of the worst: the most noble gestures and the most horrific abominations.
The results are in. After an impressive 428 applications to take part in Your Europe, Your Say! (YEYS) 2016, 33 schools from 28 EU Member States and five candidate countries have been selected to take part. We are thrilled that so many young people have expressed interest in this exciting event, and we can’t wait to meet the winning schools and students in March.
The EESC President met with the Director General of the OLAF on the occasion of the signature of an agreement of cooperation between the Committee and the European Anti-Fraud Office.
The five winning initiatives present snap-shots of what is being done by thousands of voluntary groups and NGOs across Europe. Each of the projects tackles the 2015 theme “Combating poverty” in its own way and demonstrates that poverty undermines all aspects of well-being in society, including education, long-term health, housing, access to employment and family relationships.
The EESC did not merely come up with the idea of the European Year for Development (EYD) 2015, it has also contributed to its success. Several initiatives designed to reach a wider audience – business groups, trade unions, NGOs – were organized throughout the year to explore how to streamline and coordinate this policy more efficiently and effectively.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the European Commission has made it a priority to simplify the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Increased transparency and legal certainty should go hand in hand with a reduction in red tape for farmers, other beneficiaries, producer organisations and national administrations. A simplified CAP needs to be implemented as soon as possible and farmers should be provided with necessary information and education-based support. For the EESC, it is particularly important to look into the consistency of current requirements, including their impact on the environment, food safety, food availability and job creation.
On 15 December 2015, the President of the Committee took part in the European Parliament Conference of Committee Chairs held in Strasbourg.
In his speech, Mr Dassis set out the EESC's positions on migration and asylum, stressing the prominent role of civil society. Turning to sustainable development and climate change, he spoke about the need for a new governance model in order to implement the UN 2030 Agenda and the Paris Protocol.
The EESC president also stressed the need to "parliamentarise" Economic and Monetary Union, which should listen more to civil society, and called for interinstitutional cooperation to introduce a social protocol paving the way for a levelling up of the Member States' social systems.