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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
The stability and coherence of the European Union were put to the test on several occasions in 2016. We witnessed scenes of appalling violence by groups of religious fanatics which brought fear into our societies and cast doubt over the European Union and its Member States’ ability to deliver the peace, prosperity and stability promised to citizens.

Certain populist and racist parties have taken advantage of citizens’ concerns about the future in order to increase their power among the electorate. This has been illustrated by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the Union and the elections in the United States and Austria. Civil liberties are being limited, walls are being built.

At its final plenary session of 2016, the Committee adopted an important opinion on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive. The principle that the same work, carried out in the same place, should receive identical pay is one of the key components of the Pillar of Social Rights that Europe should adopt. We are following the progress of the Commission’s proposal on this pillar extremely closely and we will work to ensure that our proposals are included. We hope that it will become an essential tool for tackling inequalities and social injustices.

Over the course of the year that has just begun, let’s not be passive spectators or resign ourselves to our fate, for example during the elections in France, Germany or the Netherlands. It’s up to us, the citizens and organisations of civil society, to commit fully to giving our Union a new lease of life.

Georges DASSIS
President of the EESC 
Co-chair of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
ECAS launches Digital competition
As part of its project on Digital Democracy, DEEP-Linking Youth, ECAS has launched a Digital Competition to allow young people to create their own digital content on the theme of "youth learning mobility" (i.e. studying, working or volunteering abroad in the EU). Check the competition here

Aarhus awarded the title of the European Volunteering Capital 2018
CEV is pleased to announce that Sligo (Ireland) is the European Volunteering Capital 2017 and the title will go to Aarhus (Denmark) in 2018. The jury have noted that Aarhus’s “Strategy on Active Citizenship” involves clear and appropriate funding mechanisms for volunteer-involving organisations, even the very smallest ones". The call for applications for the 2019 #EVCapital will be launched at the beginning of February. Read more...

Together, Moving Forward capacity building event - 12-14 February, Brussels
ESU has launched Together, Moving Forward, a call for projects at local, national and international level, to mobilise students across Europe to achieve positive host-refugee relations and better integration in our societies. Those selected will meet on 12 February.

Union Pact for Democracy
Civil Society, Trade Unions, Regions and NGOs ask Frans Timmermans to propose a Union Pact for Democracy.

Past events
The engagement of citizens in sustainable energy - 1 February, Brussels
Organised by the Active Citizenship Network, the conference was dedicated to consumers’ engagement across Europe in the fields of sustainable and renewable energies.

"Can the Semester help build a better Social Europe?" - 12 January, Brussels
The seminar reviewed how the European Semester and Europe 2020 are working in terms of their delivery on social rights, poverty and participation and to debate what it takes to ensure a more social Europe.
News from the EESC
EESC opinion on a European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR)
The EESC adopted an opinion on the outline of a European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) to build "a deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)", address some of the major challenges confronting Europe today and achieve a "triple A social Europe".

The situation of refugees and migrants with disabilities - 14 February, Brussels
The public hearing aims to draw attention on the situation of refugees and migrants with disabilities, by raising awareness among organisations working with them on the rights and needs of persons with disabilities.

European Migration Forum - 2-3 March, Brussels
The event organised by the EESC and the Commission will address the key issue of ACCESS: migrants' access to Europe, to rights and to services.

Your Europe, Your Say! 2017 kicks off - 30-31 March, Brussels
Over 680 applications from schools across Europe were received for the annual Your Europe, Your Say! event. Delegations from 33 selected schools will come to Brussels on 30-31 March to discuss the future of the EU.
Past EESC events 
Artificial Intelligence & Society - 1 February, Brussels
At the public hearing, the EESC will discuss the broader impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), contributing to its opinion that should be adopted in May 2017 and feed into EU policy on AI.
EESC publications & studies
EESC plenary session 25 - 26 January
  • Debate in connection with the adoption of EESC opinion SOC/542 on the social pillar, with the participation of Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, and Maria João Rodrigues, MEP and former Portuguese labour minister.

  • Debate on the current state of the European economy and prospects for deepening the EMU, with the participation of Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.

  • 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
Commission registers European Citizens' Initiative calling for European Free Movement Instrument
The Commission has registered a new European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) inviting the Commission to guarantee the right of free movement for "Europeans of good standing" within the EU through a "Universal Instrument".

EESC helpdesk for the European Citizen’s Initiative
The EESC is offering ECI organisers support in the form of a helpdesk. For more information consult the Helpdesk brochure.

ECIs were introduced as an agenda-setting tool in the hands of citizens in April 2012. There are currently two new initiatives running: People4Soil & more than education. Take part!
Special features
Legislative train
An interesting, informative and easy way to follow the (lack of) progress of legislative initiatives linked to the implementation of the 10 priorities of the Juncker Commission.

Crafting a way forward for the European Union
Petros Fassoulas (European Movement) discusses the state of the Union and the way forward. Pro-Europeans must continue to strive for a united, fair, diverse, open and prosperous Europe.

Book project a lifeline for exiled Azerbaijan dissidents
After spending more than a year behind bars and enduring what they describe as horrific abuse at the hands of their captors, Leyla and Arif Yunus are still reeling from their ordeal.
             Images courtesy of
External links
When we were true Europeans
Wim De Wagt reflects on a crucial but understated moment of European pre-war history, when Aristide Briand launched his sensational idea of a European federal union. What can we learn from it today?

How to end gender violence? Give money to visionary local groups
Recent years have seen some progress towards promoting and protecting the rights of girls. However, the low level of sustainable funding continues to be a huge obstacle to achieving further progress.

Judy Asks: Are referenda dangerous?
A selection of experts answer Judy Dempsey’s question on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

Who is your 2016 NGO hero?
Who has shown impressive fortitude and a cheery disposition in times of difficulty? Who is your 2016 NGO hero? Nominate them with details of what they have done to inspire you.

The long read: Understanding global inequality
Branko Milan looks at the anatomy of inequality and provides some food for thought on how to fight back.
                     Images courtesy of
New publications
Fear not Value - Public opinion and the populist vote in Europe, Bertelsmann Stiftung
Two perspectives dominate popular and scholarly interpretations of what is the matter in Europe today. One stresses a conflict between progressive and traditional values while another stresses the divide between those that benefit from globalisation versus those left behind.

Collaborative economy: an opportunity for cooperatives - new study released
Exploring 38 cases in 11 EU countries, the study demonstrates how cooperatives contribute to a collaborative economy by promoting models of community.

A citizens’ Europe: Civil society and European identity from 1945 to the present day
Can EU-28 find a common commitment, a sense of belonging to a common project from Reval to Lisbon, from Dublin to Nicosia? This book explains the relationship between European integration and the citizens of Europe.

Open Government and the European Union
Recommendations for the EU and its Member States on successful open government practices at national level that could be implemented at EU level, thereby improving the openness of EU level government.
Confessions of an Auschwitz survivor
​Éva Fahidi was 18 when she was taken to Auschwitz with her family. She was the only one to survive. Now, at the age of 90, in the wake of the refugee crisis sweeping across Europe, Éva feels compelled to share her hard earned wisdom.
Links to our members' newsletters

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