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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
JULY 2018
Death toll

“Open societies need open borders” was for a long time our driving conviction as civil society and human rights activists. The death toll from last weekend alone stands at about 175, all of whom died in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to reach Europe while placing their lives in the hands of human traffickers. We have known this for a decade and yet the debate continues as to whether humanitarian corridors can be set up or whether we should accommodate regular migration within a legal framework. Humanitarian considerations seem to be ever increasingly overlooked, with the result that NGO ships trying to save lives are criminalised, as happened in the case of the captain of Lifeline who was jailed in Malta.
Instead of looking for solutions, as CSOs and NGOs are doing on the ground through social service provision, there has been a discernible turn rightwards in public debate as evidenced by newly coined terms such as asylum tourism, asylum business, welfare tourists and pragmatic humanism, which have “enriched” our dictionaries while polluting mindsets.
Europe will always remain an important destination for people in search of a better live. Nonetheless the principal migration pattern continues to be South-South migration, sometimes accompanied by the same unpleasant side effects of racism, xenophobia and exclusion, exploitation and more. Shrinking civic space gives rise not only to decreased freedom of assembly and diminished freedom of speech, or to attacks on the rule of law and freedom of the media. In point of fact, shrinking civic space has also left its mark on public opinion as the progress of civilisation is undermined by hate speech, defamation and populism. The glue holding societies together continues to grow thinner and the speed at which we are approaching a breakdown continues to increase.
With only ten months remaining before the next European elections, civil society has to act instead of contenting itself with honest proposals and opinions or nice manifestos and slogans. What is most important is our capacity to mobilise, taking into account the statement of the leader of AVAAZ that the majority of our population is not in favour of right-wing extremism and populist propaganda. That being said, they may well be tempted by it if we do not act in time!

Conny Reuter,
Secretary-general of Solidar
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
ECAS: launch of the ECI Forum
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Forum is an online collaborative platform that offers support to citizens when organising a European citizens’ initiative and is operated by a consortium of three organisations – European Service Network (ESN), ECAS and CARSA – on behalf of and under contract with the European Commission. The purpose of the Forum is to provide advice and information to organisers before, during and after the process of launching and implementing an initiative. The Forum will allow citizens to learn more about the ECI through best practices and enable them to discuss EU policies and ECI proposals, to find partners in other countries, to ask for legal, campaigning and fundraising advice from experts, and to exchange experiences. Read more here.

Eurochild Conference, Building a better Europe with children, Opatija, 29-31 October 2018
The Eurochild Conference in Opatija will bring together practitioners, researchers, civil society actors, policy and decision makers along with children and young people themselves to contribute to improving children’s participation in public decision-making. It will bring positive examples of how public decision-makers at local, national and European levels are respecting the right of children to participate in decisions affecting them. More information here.

Eurochild: Online survey "Europe Kids Want" open until 21 September 2018
This survey is a joint initiative by Eurochild and UNICEF. Topics covered include children’s experience of family life, school, and society as well as their thoughts on Europe. The survey is written in child-friendly language and is open to children of all ages. The survey results will be announced at a special session of the European Parliament on 20 November - Universal Children’s Day – attended by a delegation of children and young people. You can participate in the survey in 19 languages here. For background information click here.

AFS Global conference, Budapest, 26-28 September 2018
AFS Intercultural Programs aims at bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders across all sectors to align policies, tools, and resources that empower educators to deliver essential 21st-century skills to learners at every life stage and to create an urgent agenda for global competence. The conference will bring together some 500 educators (formal and non-formal), policymakers, international governing bodies, business leaders, diplomats, researchers, social entrepreneurs, international education providers, and NGOs. Registration and more info here.


Volonteurope - We are a welcoming Europe - join the campaign!
We are taking part in the first European Citizens’ Initiative to empower a #WelcomingEurope and reclaim our right to help refugees and migrants. Click to read more, and to sign up yourself. Help us get to 1 million signatures! More here.

LLP: EU Conference on Innovative Assessment Methods for Validation, Brussels, 13 September 2018
The Lifelong Learning Platform and its InnoVal project partners are happy to invite you to the European Conference on Innovative Assessment Methods for Validation taking place at the University Foundation in Brussels, on the 13th of September. Join us in discussing the current state of play, sharing and learning from innovative practices, tools, case studies and exploring ways forward for Validation of non-formal and informal learning in Europe! More information and registrations here.
Past events
AGE Annual Conference 2018 on ensuring the right to self-determination, Brussels, 6 June 2018
On 6 June, AGE held its 2018 annual conference in Brussels on Supporting older persons' right to self-determination, exploring how older people enjoy their freedom to make choices, manage their own lives and live as independently as possible. Read more here and check out the programme.

European Women's Lobby Forum, Brussels, 7 June 2018
The second flagship Women’s Forum in Brussels opened on 7 June 2018. This year’s event, in recognition of the upcoming European elections, addressed the theme of “Women ReShaping Power”. Over 100 leading women’s rights activists from the EWL membership across Europe were in Brussels to participate. This formed an important part of our efforts to build momentum towards the 2019 European elections. Read more here.

EASPD Annual Conference, Varna (Bulgaria), 14-15 June
On 14-15 June EASPD held an annual conference on ‘Social Economy as an Effective Model for Social Inclusion’, in Varna. The conference presented and discussed the social economy concept and its effects on the quality of life of people with disabilities and the creation of more sustainable, inclusive and cohesive societies. To find out more, click here.

LLLP Annual Conference on Lifelong Learning Culture, Vienna, 5-6 July 2018
The Lifelong Learning Platform organised its Annual Conference on 5-6 July in Vienna. This year it was dedicated to creating a “Lifelong Learning Culture”, to establishing a partnership between education and culture and to building more lifelong learning societies. It provided an opportunity to debate with national, European and international representatives, experts, academics, civil society representatives and many others. More information here.
News from the EESC
EESC Civil Society Prize 2018 – call for nominations OPEN till 7 September
The EESC has launched its Civil Society Prize for 2018 on "Identities, European Values and Cultural Heritage" in Europe. The 2018 prize will reward innovative initiatives carried out by civil society organisations and/or individuals on the territory of the EU and aimed at raising awareness of the multiple layers and richness of European identities, exploiting the full potential of Europe's cultural wealth, facilitating access to European cultural heritage and promoting European values such as respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.
Application deadline 7 September. More information here. Application form here.

EESC: 11th meeting of the EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee, Montenegro, 17 July
At their 11th Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meeting, taking place on 17 July in Podgorica, Montenegro, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Montenegro will tackle issues such as an assessment of the state of play in the Montenegro EU accession negotiations, chapters 2 and 19 of the accession negotiations and an overview of the Civil Society situation in Montenegro. Read more here.

EESC: 5th Meeting EU-Africa Economic and Social stakeholders' network, Brussels, 17 July
The EESC is organising this annual meeting at the EESC building in Brussels. Some topics on the agenda are the 2018-2020 Action Plan, migration and economic issues, young people and youth employment. Read more here.
Past EESC events 
AI Europe / Stakeholder summit, A European Strategy for Artificial Intelligence , EESC, 18 June 2018
On 18 June 2018, the European Economic and Social Committee, together with the European Commission, held a stakeholder summit on artificial intelligence (AI). The summit brought together businesses representatives, academia, workers, citizens, policy makers and NGO's to discuss the next steps to advance the EU strategy on AI. Find out more here.

EESC, Public hearing on youth strategy, 9 July 2018

As part of its preparation of preparing an opinion on the Next EU youth strategy, the EESC organised a public hearing on the subject.
Speakers included young people, representatives of the social partners, other civil society organisations, the European Commission and EESC members. Find out more here.
EESC plenary session, 11-12 July 2018
  • Debate on the promotion of sustainable development at different levels, with Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for the Energy Union
  • Presentation of the priorities of the Austrian presidency, with Gernot Blümel, Austria's Federal Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and the Media
  • Adoption of the opinion on Transition management in a digitalised world of work (SOC/578)
  • Adoption of the opinion on The situation of women with disabilities (SOC/579)
  • Adoption of the opinion on The effects of a new carbon-free, decentralised and digitalised energy supply structure on jobs and regional economies (TEN/660)
    All adopted EESC opinions can be consulted here.
EESC legislative planning
  • For details on expected and received referrals allocated to sections in July, as well as exploratory opinions, please consult our website.
  • Are you interested in obtaining or providing information on an opinion? Please contact the relevant section secretariat.
Special features
EESC Liaison Group welcomes Front Line Defenders as a new member organisation
Front Line Defenders has become the new alternate member of the EESC Liaison Group with civil society organisations and networks in the field of human rights. It was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk (HRDs), people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Read more about Front Line Defenders.

ECIT Summer University on European Citizenship, Brussels, 6-7 September 2018
The ECIT Foundation (European Citizens' rights, Involvement and Trust) will hold its third Summer University on 6 and 7 September, intended as a ground-breaking event in the run-up to the forthcoming European elections. Check out the programme here and register here.
Links to our members' newsletters

European Economic and Social Committee
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