Seven Days a Week in the life of Pierre Baussand
The director of Social Platform visits Denmark to promote employment and social services as a solution to the crisis, hears Herman Van Rompuy's keynote speech to the general assembly and looks forward to a meeting with Olli Rehn
It is my first day back in the office after a visit to Cyprus last week. We gathered European Union and Cyprus civil society organisations along with the minister of labour and social insurance for a conference on the social priorities of the country's upcoming EU presidency starting in July. However, there is no break before I head back to the airport to speak at the informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs council in Denmark tomorrow. I spend the morning sending our contributions to the EU ministers of social affairs who will attend the meeting. After another day of travel we arrive in Horsens, Denmark, where our delegation is split between two hotels. At 10pm I find myself riding a pink bike, loaned by the Danish EU presidency, across town to meet with my colleagues to prepare our interventions. Luckily I manage to find my way back to the hotel after losing the map along the way.
Today at the informal EPSCO council we intervene with our messages on how investment in quality employment and quality social services is a way to recover from the economic crisis. We called on the European social ministers to protect social services from the crisis and the on-going fiscal austerity as "social services are not the cause of the economic crisis but they are the answer to the social consequences of it". At the meeting we also had the opportunity to talk informally with the EU ministers, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion LÃ¡szlÃ³ Andor, and representatives of the next EU presidency. Back in the office the team has been busy releasing a press release and updating our Facebook and Twitter accounts with our messages. Less than 24 hours in Denmark and already I am back on the plane to Brussels â€“ looks like it is going to be airplane food for dinner again.
Wednesday starts with our weekly policy meeting. This gives me the chance to debrief the team on my activities over the last week and to hear what they have been up to â€“ such as attending the 5th Annual Fundamental Rights Platform meeting in Vienna. It's another busy day in the office as I have to wrap up my presentation for our general assembly tomorrow and finalise the small details for the day. I also find time to make a quick dash to the dry cleaners to pick up some clean shirts for tomorrow. With all the travel this week finding time to do them myself just did not happen.
It is the day or our general assembly where once a year the presidents, directors and secretary generals of our 46 member organisations come together. It is not often they get to meet so conversations at break times are really interesting as they catch up on each other's campaigns and look at ways they can support each other's work. Our network continues to grow and we welcome a new member to the Platform â€“ Dynamo International, the international network of social street workers. In the afternoon Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, delivers the keynote address. In his speech he highlights that further action is clearly needed on the Europe 2020 targets and that member states must take their commitments seriously. He also announces that he will from now on meet with us every year for a fully-fledged debate on social issues. This is encouraging as working with, and lobbying, the council and member states is one of the more difficult parts of our job.
Just to make sure that the week is fully packed we end up with a management committee meeting today, which takes up the best part of the day. However we find the time to enjoy breaking bread with the team and everyone is relaxed, and tired, after a successful week. The working week ends on a positive note as we get confirmation of a meeting with Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs to discuss EU economic governance. Having met internal market commissioner Michel Barnier, competition commissioner Almunia, and Andor, as well as the president of the council, this year, we are finally addressing the social dimension of all key EU policies.
I spend Saturday flipping burgers for my children's school party and watching their show. No politics: what a relief.
Sunday is my day of rest and in the evening I sit down to watch the Danish television series The Killing. I only plan to watch the first episode but end up watching the entire season. It is rather addictive. I finally get to bed at 2am but it was definitely a good way to erase the tiredness and clear my mind of the last 10 days. Escapism at its best.
Pierre Baussand is the director of Social Platform, which brings together European non-governmental organisations working to build an inclusive society