In what was something of a Maltese day for the Committee, the EESC’s plenary session later this afternoon welcomed John Dalli, European Commissioner responsible for health and consumer policy. His visit came hard on the heels of the publication of the Commission’s European Consumer Agenda. In his welcoming remarks President Staffan Nilsson declared that ‘EU citizens have a crucial role to play as consumers in achieving the Europe 2020 goals of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. Empowering consumers helps improve the quality of products and services, and enables the market economy to operate more effectively.’ Increasingly, he argued, ‘consumers are perceived as the driving force for sustainable growth and recovery from the economic crisis.’ The Commissioner’s speech and the ensuing lively exchange with members confirmed this vision.