Joining forces for a healthier and fairer Europe in digital age

EESC: Our incumbent challenge ahead is to effectively tackle the economic and social hardship caused by Covid-19

Photo: EESC Christa Schweng and Maroš Šefčovič.

The driving force to make Europe healthier, fairer and more prosperous must be a coordinated approach with all interinstitutional actors, capitalising on the prominent role played by organised civil society, says the EESC, backing the European Commission's 2021 work programme.

The European Union must become healthier, fairer and more prosperous, while stepping up its long‑term transformation into a greener economy that is fit for the digital age. This is the message that the EESC President Christa Schweng delivered during the first day of the EESC plenary session, to EC Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič.

Referring to the EESC contribution to the 2021 European Commission's work programme, adopted in July 2020, EESC President pointed out that the Committee's priorities were aligned with those of the Commission and that most of the proposals the EESC had put forward would be addressed by the Commission.

"We wish to make a powerful contribution to Europe's recovery and future resilience to ensure a Europe that is prospering economically, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable," Christa Schweng outlined.

EC VP Šefčovič specified that the Commission's 2021 work programme followed the conclusions of the first annual Strategic Foresight Report, published in last September, and included individual initiatives which all reflected the political ambitions of the von der Leyen Commission: recovery of the economy in a socially inclusive way, twin digital and climate transitions and strengthening Europe's resilience and leading position in the world.

"The work programme is designed to help the EU move beyond the fragility caused by the crisis and create a new vitality, by putting a clear focus on delivery with future-proof solutions across all policy areas," EC VP Šefčovič said.

On recovering from the crisis and fighting the pandemic, the EESC President stressed that the Commission could count on the Committee's full support in the implementation of its ambitious goals, for example by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of sustainability in the EU from the economic, environmental, social and institutional point of view. "This could help to identify new opportunities for post-pandemic recovery. Our incumbent challenge ahead is to effectively tackle the economic and social hardship caused by Covid-19," she said.

EC VP Šefčovič outlined that the Union showed a great deal of solidarity and unity. “We do not just bounce back, but also forward and after all the challenges of 2020, now is the time to kick our recovery from the Covid-19 crisis into gear and set out the future we want for our Union," he accented.

He noted the importance of dealing with the devastating social consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, adding that the European Social Summit proposed by the Portuguese Presidency would be an excellent opportunity to put into practice the European Pillar of Social Rights so that nobody would be left behind.

EC VP Šefčovič praised the Commission's efforts and work towards an EU Health Union, which had enabled the EU to take a coordinated approach on vaccination and secure the broadest portfolio of vaccines in the world, consisting of 2.3 billion doses.

To successfully overcome the crisis, both Schweng and Šefčovič agreed on the need for a joint effort among institutional actors, public authorities and organised civil society. This was also emphasised by the EESC group representatives.


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