Τhe need for a universal response of the international community related to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the evident impact of the climate change, the rapid technological development and the consequent digital transformation of services, administrative processes, and business activities, have fundamentally altered the social and economic context of European citizens’ life. This change highlighted the need for both imminent and future adjustments in several areas of the public sphere, such as economic policy, labor mobility, health protocols, human rights, natural disasters management, etc.
In this context, the initiative of the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission to develop social dialogue channels for the above purposes through the Conference on the Future of Europe is of utter importance.
Following the example of the European institutions the Economic and Social Council of Greece, which is the respective counterpart (institutional on the Constitution of Hellenic Republic) of the social dialogue in the country, is organizing an event, so as to promote social dialogue, with the widest possible participation and inclusion of all social groups.
At its Plenary Session on 27 and 28 April 2021 (meeting of 27 April), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted a Resolution on the "Conference on the Future of Europe", whereby each country, each national or European institution is encouraged to take public consultation initiatives on major issues concerning the future course of European integration.
The resolution contains key conclusions on the EU role in the coming decades (see… "Europe must be seen as: 1) the guardian of common fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, 2) a global advocate of sustainability, open and fair trade and multilateralism, 3) a guarantor of a unique economic and social model based on fair competition and solidarity in a borderless region; having at its core a strong European civil society. "
Taking the opportunity and on the occasion of this pan-European initiative of social dialogue for the future of Europe, the Economic and Social Council of Greece will organize in Athens, on November 4, 2021, a meeting with the EESC aiming to highlight the positions of national social partners and stakeholders on several issues such as European democracy and values, climate change, environment and health, the economy and sustainable development, social justice and politics, digital transformation and the role of the EU in the world as well as the management of the immigration issue.
In particular, the ESC Greece takes the initiative to give the social interlocutors a public platform to evaluate and exchange views on the above issues, and seeks to contribute, through the maximum possible involvement of civil society and social partnership, in shaping the European Union's priorities for the coming years, strengthening its future perspective, and addressing effectively existing and future challenges.
The conference aims to highlight some of the key thematic areas that will meet the current challenges facing Europe on an economic, social, and institutional level. As an indication, the aim is to start a constructive dialogue within the context of the society on the following (respectively for each proposed session).
THEMATIC SESSION 1: STRONGER ECONOMY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, JOBS
- Is a sustainable development policy compatible with the objective of competitiveness, especially as regards to the peripheral countries?
- How could economic democracy be strengthened in the present EU framework for economic actors, households, and businesses?
- Hoy would current employment trends affect economic and social inequalities? What kind of initiatives should be taken on a national level?
THEMATIC SESSION 2: CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
- Does the national policy design meet the current demands posed by the accelerating climate change?
- Are adequate crisis management and solidarity mechanisms between Member States developed and implemented in the EU to address natural disasters?
- In addition to the introduction of new medical treatments and health crisis management, could health sector play a socially developmental role (pertaining to non-exclusion, public safety comprehension, development of the pharmaceutical industry and medical tourism, etc.)
THEMATIC SESSION 3: THE EU ROLE IN THE WORLD AND MIGRATION
- Should the EU and the Member States adopt a more active and/or proactive role in tackling global challenges such as international trade promotion and migration?
- What is the country's strategy on both the issue of reception and protection of refugees, as well as on the formation of a cooperative strategy with neighboring countries and third countries for the development of institutions in neighboring countries and third countries that strengthen pluralism, peace and social cohesion?
THEMATIC SESSION 4: EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY, VALUES, RIGHTS, RULE OF LAW
- Ways/measures to avoid centrifugal tendencies within the EU and questioning of core European values in the future
- Tools availability so as to support democratic institutions on a regional and local level (citizens feel detached from central decision-making)
In ESC of Greece view, deepening the social dialogue on a national and European level and working closely with the institutions and the social partners, putting emphasis on the great challenges European society and the economy faces today, such as climate change, pandemic ending, as well as access of citizens, workers and employers to equal opportunities and possibilities, especially at the field of the digital transition, energy efficiency and the reduction of inequalities, is a strategic choice.
As such, the active participation of the members of the ESC Greece (OKE), who make up the community of social partners is a key component for the resumption of social dialogue and the deepening of collective participation and economic democracy.
The conference conclusions will be the core components of the publication of ESC Greece common position paper on the Future of Europe.