Roucek, Durant, Nilsson

I returned to the Parliament’s hemicycle this morning for the closing session of the Citizens’ Agora. The participants heard back from the three workshops and the so-called ‘consensus conference’ (1. The economic and financial crisis and new forms of poverty; 2. The impact of the economic and financial crises on migration flows and integration processes and 3. The economic and social crisis: access to a decent and sustainable way of life for persons in situations of precariousness – challenges  for the European model of society; the consensus conference was designed to follow the workshops and bring practical conclusions back to the plenary). In the ensuing questions-and-answers session the familiar problems with such exercises arose; providing an occasion for people to speak is all very well but how do the institutions show that they have listened? Isabelle Durant and Libor Roucek (EP Vice-Presidents) and Staffan Nilsson (EESC President) were frank in acknowledging this challenge but, as Durant put it, if the issue could be put on the political agenda as climate change had been (the theme of a previous Agora), then that in itself would represent genuine progress. This conference was about the plight of the victims of crises and the poverties they suffer and we will all, I am quite certain, continue to strive to help them. As EESC Secretary General, I was proud of the way in which two institutions, the Parliament and the EESC, had cooperated together so well and so productively. As Libor Roucek put it, ‘If we want to be successful and achieve our goals we must cooperate with the other institutions, and the European Economic and Social Committee is one of the most important of those.’