European Economic and Social Committee
Malosse and de Buck vie for EESC presidency
By Gaspard Sebag | Tuesday 10 July 2012
Two candidates are standing in the race for the presidency of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The president is elected for a two-and-a-half-year term from one of the EESC groups on a rotating basis. The next presidency falls to the Employers Group (I). French national Henri Malosse, who heads this group, is a candidate. But he will be standing against a surprise rival, the current director of BusinessEurope, Belgian national Philippe de Buck, who will be retiring at the end of the year. The Employers Group will choose between the two on 11 July.
The two men have very different approaches. De Buck wants to break with the tradition that would give the EESC presidency to the current head of the group to which the rotating presidency falls, ie Malosse. The BusinessEurope head highlights his credibility, his knowledge of European decision makers and his experience in the business world. He places the economy at the heart of his presidency: “Today if we have a little bit of growth it is because European industry is able to participate in world growth. This shows that we have the means to achieve it. If we could boost the internal market, if we could boost technological development, it would happen”.
Malosse - an EESC member since 1995 - wants to tackle the “growing divide between people’s concerns and what the European institutions are doing”. Internal changes are needed to help the committee make its voice heard, which it is struggling to do at present. He finds that “the EESC administration is the greatest force of resistance”.
The two candidates agree that the EESC needs to identify its priorities more clearly in order to issue opinions on more targeted subjects. In so doing, Malosse wants the EESC to examine European initiatives “critically and constructively”. “We shouldn’t begin our opinions by congratulating the Commission for its excellent proposal. […] If we indulge in the same waffle as the Council or Commission we’re useless,” he said. On Greece, for example, he finds that the EU “got things wrong” by financing luxurious infrastructures in Greece for decades with EU funds, with the result that the Greek state and Greek regions went into debt to provide their financial contribution, to the detriment of the country’s productive sector. De Buck is also critical of the way the Greek problem is being addressed, claiming it could have been settled two years ago. He singles out the 27’s incapacity to set objectives and meet them, and stresses the negative effect this has had on confidence in the Union.
Once the Employers Group has made its choice, it will have to be validated by the EESC plenary, in April 2013. The nine to ten months between the two votes will provide time to develop a programme in consultation with committee members so that the next presidency can become operational immediately.