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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
How many more wake-up calls?
With the results of the election in Austria and the referendum in Italy we are again hearing talk of a wake-up call. What should worry us is that Austria is divided between rural and urban areas, and that 85% of workers seem to have voted for the brown far-right. In Italy, which still has a north-south divide, people all over the country voted against the proposals in the referendum because they have lost faith in the capacity of those in government to bring about employment, stability and protection. Or perhaps the proposed reforms intended to create the capacity to bring about these things. Was there a communication and interpretation problem?

What kind of public sphere still exists, and how can societal forces stop the decline of democracy? Austria and Italy, at least, have provided us with some answers: Austria through a mobilisation of democrats and Italy through a high level of participation.
If this is a wake-up call, it is one that tells us that social policies must finally be put at the same level as economic policies; one that encourages us to understand that reforms must be more than liberalisation of the labour market, more than the "vigorous application of the stability and growth pact"; one that says that we must strongly oppose simplistic populist solutions and deliver policies that enable people to see and feel that institutions and governments are having an effect. Civil society is ready to mobilise and challenge the European institutions. As the latest EUROSTAT poll showed, citizens do not think that EU regulation is excessive, but rather that there is not enough of it in relevant areas.

The promise of wellbeing and social and territorial cohesion are part of the Treaties. Maybe we should do more to name and shame those who undermine them? In any case, we will continue our work with – and within – the EESC to promote an open, liberal and inclusive Europe, opposed to any attempts at populist and nationalistic withdrawal.

Conny Reuter, Secretary General of Solidar
Co-chair of the Liaison Group

EESC Civil Society Prize
Civil Society Prize awarded - 15 December, Brussels
The EESC has rewarded five initiatives carried out by civil society organisations and individuals, aimed at improving migrants' lives and fostering their integration in society. The first prize was assigned to Artemisszió Foundation, a Hungarian NGO providing refugees with safe places to support their integration. The second prize was shared among four initiatives: Dionisis Arvanitakis, a Greek baker who bakes 100kg of bread for migrants every day; Sos Arrazakeria, a Spanish NGO that is helping migrant families to integrate into local communities; SOS Mediterranee Germany, a project which rescued more than 5.400 refugees in Mediterranean; Iliaktida, a Greek initiative which gets refugees out of camps and integrates them into local communities.
News from the Liaison Group
30th meeting of the Liaison Group - 8 November, Brussels
The Liaison Group started preparatory work on the 2017 Civil Society Days, held an exchange of views on planned EESC activities and welcomed some new members. For further information click here.

Follow the Liaison Group on Twitter
We're happy to announce that you can now also follow the Liaison Group on Twitter in between newsletters to find information on hot topics concerning #civilsociety at large.

News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
Investment in social services
Check out Social Services Europe's paper on how EU funds can be used to promote investment in social services.
Past events
European pillar of social rights - 6 December, Brussels
SOLIDAR advocates for a rights-based approach that builds on comprehensive and integrated social policies.

"European Angst" - 6-7 December, Brussels
The Goethe-Institute and the European Movement International organized "European Angst" to address populism, xenophobia, extremism and growing anxiety in the "old continent".

The Women of Europe Awards - 1 December, Brussels
The Women of Europe Award is the prize, created to honour women striving to advance the European project in their professional and private lives. Margrete Vestager was named European Woman of Power and Adela Ionela Dinu women's rights activist of the year.

Access to justice in the EU and beyond: What role for civil society? - 29-30 November, Brussels
As project leader of Triple A for Citizens, ECAS launched the Triple A for Citizens European Network, which is open to all European organisations who provide free advice to citizens.

Global Trends to 2030: Society and Governance - 16-17 November, Brussels
The 2016 ESPAS Annual Conference drew on the insights of the report Global Trends to 2030: Can the EU Meet Challenges Ahead? The accompanying publication Shaping the Future: Thoughts on the Future of Society and Governance contains a rich collection of over 30 original, forward looking, anticipatory essays.

European Parliament - 15 November, Brussels
Roundtable on the EU Facilitation Directive: Protecting the right to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants and refugees.


Europe and nation states - friends or foes? - 28 October, Brussels
The Spinelli Forum discussed "Europe and Nation States: Friends of Foes? Bridging visions on sovereignty and identity to relaunch the European political project".
News from the EESC - past events
COP22 debriefing - 8 December, Brussels

The Sustainable Development Observatory assessed whether the so-called "COP of action" delivered on its promises and discussed the next steps for the EESC.

EU - Russia Civil Society Forum, 23 November, Versailles
The forum looked at the current situation in which civil society in Russia and in the EU is operating, as well as migration, especially in their integration of newcomers into host societies.

EESC - ILO conference on the Future of Work we want, 15 - 16 November, Brussels
The EESC - ILO Conference on the Future of Work, held in the framework of the global consultation called for by the ILO and organised jointly with the EESC, mapped the key challenges and identified opportunities related to the Future of Work in the EU context.

EESC plenary session 14 - 15 December
  • All adopted EESC opinions can be consulted here
EESC legislative programme
  • For details on received referrals and expected referrals allocated to Sections in December, as well as exploratory opinions click here
  • Are you interested in getting information or in bringing input to one of the opinions? Contact the relevant Section secretariat
Subscribe to EESC newsletters
Civil dialogue in the EU
EU Transparency Register: bridging the North Atlantic divide
The authors compare the North American lobbying regime to the EU model, with the EU Transparency Register now taking the lead.

Towards an EU strategy to promote civic space?
Civil Society Europe addressed the state of the art, concerns, challenges and proposals regarding the restrictions that civil society organization are facing on their civic freedoms in many countries across the world.

The Boris Nemtsov Forum, 16 - 17 November, Brussels
The Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and its partners launched the Boris Nemtsov Forum with a debate on the future of EU-Russia relations.
Special features
Are our social rights fit for the 21st century?

The Commission conducts a survey concerning the European Pillar of Social Rights. Have your say!

​The European Solidarity Corps is now a fact
And it aims at providing new opportunities for young Europeans to engage in solidarity activities across Europe - namely through volunteering or doing an internship, apprenticeship or work. #JoinTheCorps

Volunteer in the EU [Plenary Podcast]
Over the last 20 years, some 100 000 young people have taken part in international volunteering through the European Voluntary Service. Ivana Katsarova maps EU initiatives, possibilities and barriers to volunteering.

What is SDG Watch?
SDG Watch, an alliance of 70 EU-level civil society organisations, aims to ensure that the EU reaches the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, by independently monitoring EU & Member State implementation.

What if blockchain technology revolutionised voting?

Philip Bouch asks: Is blockchain the revolution in security and transparency that is needed to enable e-voting and, if so, what are the implications for the future of democracy?


Post Brexit and pre-Trump: the difficulty of turning words into action
"It is always easier to destroy than to build or address complex issues" - Pierre Baussand, Director of the Social Platform, reflects on the post Brexit and Trump era.
External links
Are the Trumps taking over?
Is democracy just reduced to voting? After Brexit and the US elections, David van Reybrouck proposes another system.

Giuseppe Porcaro asks what "Tinderpolitics" is. Hypothetically: Who would bother to vote if a set of sophisticated algorithms just identified your ideal candidate for the upcoming elections by trawling your data mine with a convenient app?

"Inside" the European Parliament's closed reading rooms
What do TTIP, food safety and tax-justice have in common? Only selected MEPs have to attend closed reading rooms. Dr Vigjilenca Abazi discusses how an exception to parliamentary oversight is increasingly becoming a regular practice and questions its spillover effect on request for public access to documents.

Portugal has announced the world's first nationwide participatory budget
G. Fonseca reports on Portugal's project, which aims to let people submit ideas for what the government should spend its money on and then vote on which ideas are adopted.
New publications: your holiday reading list
Civil Society Organisations: A tool for citizen participation?
Are CSO representative of their members or are they elitist and out of touch? An inspiring discussion on the role of CSOs nowadays, triggered by Meike Rodekamp's book entitled "Their Member's voice" took part in the Information Centre of the EESC. More info.

What kind of institutional architecture for what kind of democracy for the EU?

The recently published book European Union: Democratic principles and Institutional Architectures in Times of Crisis examines different institutional architectures in the light of the democratic quality of the processes and decisions they generate, paying particular attention to the democratic legitimacy of the EU.

EPC Policy Paper on the EU@60- Countering a regressive and illiberal Europe

In this paper, EPC experts Janis A. Emmanouilidis  and Fabian Zuleeg discuss the future of the European project.
Introducing the Civic Space Monitor
The CIVICUS Civic Space Monitor (CSM) was launched on 24 October. CSM is a tool tracking violations of civic space all around the world in real time.

Links to our members' newsletters

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