This afternoon I gave a welcoming speech at a conference on capacity building in the new member states in the textile, clothing, garment, footwear, leather and tanning industries. It was the culmination of a year-long project, supported by the European Commission, designed to help establish and consolidate social dialogue. We, the EESC, have a sort of outreach programme whereby we encourage organisations, including the European institutions, to see us as a welcoming host for such events, which can and frequently do greatly enrich the thinking of our own members. I had to sneak away after an hour but I wished I could have stayed. A lot of home truths about the approaching recession were voiced, since these are all, in their different ways, vulnerable sectors. But the basic and very clear message the speakers were getting across was that, whilst this period will be a test for social dialogue, it will also prove the need for such dialogue.
This post gives me a chance to plug an excellent information report published by the EESC’s Consultative Commission on Industrial Change about the future of the European textile, clothing and footwear sectors. You can order it for free or download it here.
I like to think that I coined a phrase at the conference. There were so many Secretaries-General and Directors-General on the top table with me so I began by saying ‘First, but not most’. Geddit? It’s the way I tell them.