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EESC President Dimitris Dimitriadis

On 28 May 2008, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will mark its 50th anniversary with a special commemorative plenary session opened by EESC President Dimitris Dimitriadis, and key addresses by Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, Mr José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and Mr Luc van den Brande, President of the Committee of Regions. During the plenary session, young Europeans will launch a discussion on the challenges facing the European Union and the EESC. The celebrations will also include a major debate with distinguished guests including Jacques Delors, former European Commission President, and a series of cultural events.

50 years ago the EESC was established to bring in new expertise to European decision-making and given sets of consultative powers. The idea of establishing the European Economic and Social Committee was agreed two months before the Treaty of Rome was concluded in March 1957. It was brought onto the agenda by two of the smaller players in the negotiations, Belgium and the Netherlands. On 19 May 1958 the first plenary session took place in Brussels.

The Committee will celebrate its 50th anniversary on 28 May 2008. As EESC President Dimitris Dimitriadis has pointed out: “The celebration of the European Economic and Social Committee’s 50th anniversary is not only about its past but also and mainly about its future and, in particular, its commitment to its ‘life donors’, Europe’s citizens and their organisations.” A special commemorative plenary session held at the European Parliament will be opened by the EESC President. The Presidents of the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Committee of the Regions will express their views on the EESC’s contribution to the European project. The plenary session will host a discussion between current EU leaders, former EESC presidents and young Europeans from different European countries on the role of organised civil society in tomorrow’s Europe.

In the second part of the afternoon, key European personalities – including former European Commission President Jacques Delors, the Italian writer Erri de Luca, the director for content of the European website Dailymotion, Martin Rogard, the former President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, the winner of the 2008 prize for young European entrepreneur of the year 2008, Karoli Hindriks, the founder of Innoversity, Susanne Justesen, as well as singer Nana Mouskouri, former MEP and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador – will take part in a panel debate on the future of Europe and the Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

The evening will conclude with the launch of a book on the EESC’s history, accompanied by an exhibition.

Programme for the EESC 50th Anniversary celebrations on 28 May 2008:

2 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. : Extraordinary plenary session “Involving the future generation in the EU project: What’s the contribution of the EESC ?”, European Parliament – Paul Henri Spaak Building- Hemicycle

5 p.m. – 7 p.m. :     Major debate on “The future of Europe and the Year of Intercultural Dialogue”, European Parliament – Paul Henri Spaak Building- Hemicycle

7.30 p.m. : Launch of the EESC’s history publication ” Exhibition ” Reception, EESC headquarters – Jacques Delors Building, 5th and 6th floor, rue Belliard 99, B-1040, Brussels

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