24 March 2009
In an historic move at today’s plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted a strategic, long-term document on the current political debate and the challenges ahead ” A Programme for Europe: proposals of civil society. The Committee has presented the EU institutions with a set of concrete measures and initiatives needed to overcome the economic crisis and support sustainable growth in the years to come. It has also taken a position on the European elections, calling on the other institutions, the Member States and stakeholders to ensure that the June elections discuss matters of European interest and not just national issues.
EESC ‘s President Mario Sepi underlined the novelty of the Programme for Europe: proposals of civil society. In contrast to the specific opinions that the Committee is usually called on to issue, the Programme for Europe sets out a global, strategic and long-term vision for the future of Europe. “In this difficult period of crisis and at a time when the renewal of the institutions is approaching, this civil society manifesto indicates how we can make headway in all areas where the EU is active”, said the President. “The Committee is making the voice of civil society heard in the debate on the challenges facing Europe in the coming years”.
The document contains a number of recommendations taken from the EESC’s opinions on four topics: economic recovery, fundamental rights and the European social model, sustainable development and governance. The discussion at the plenary session showed there was an extremely wide consensus among all the Groups regarding this initative undertaken by President Sepi and which shows the “coherent soul of the Committee’s work”.
“The long-term vision contained in the document will spark a debate ahead of the European elections and may thus contribute to increasing the voter turnout rate which has recently been unacceptably low”, stressed Staffan Nilsson, President of the EESC’s Various Interests’ Group.
“The European Union needs a new political project and that is just what we are submitting “, said Henri Malosse, President of the Employers Group. Among the initiatives contained in the Programme for Europe, Mr Malosse named four concrete proposals aimed at building a real knowledge-based and communications society, strengthening Europe’s industrial basis, reducing CO2 emissions in the construction sector as well as reshaping the European structure of governance . “With this programme Europe can make people dream again”, stated Mr Malosse.
Georgios Dassis, President of the Employees’ Group, underscored the unique and consensual quality of the Programme for Europe. “The concrete initiatives that it includes have been agreed by representatives of all the sectors of European society”.
A Programme for Europe: proposals of civil society will be submitted to the next European Parliament and the European Commission.