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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
State of the Union?
Although many of us have enjoyed a pleasant summer break, the political agenda remains unchanged. Despite the risks involved, people continue to flee war, misery and poverty. Up to 3000 people have already died this year in the Mediterranean Sea. The initial wave of support and welcome for refugees has become a move in a political game played between European Member States. At a time when reason should be driving political thinking and public debate, the fear factor is being fuelled by misinformation and rumours.

Integrating migrants and refugees is a practical example of humanitarian and civilised values which requires social investment and a rights-based approach. This is nothing new, but we have not yet established how this is to be translated into EU policy. Will the social rights pillar fade into a mere placebo - or will it develop into a real foundation of social rights upon which everyone living in Europe can build? Will it deliver more inclusion, produce more cohesion and deliver a framework for more political, social, economic and environmental policies? Civil society will continue to help shape this pillar as that is how civil dialogue works; even now, when there is less and less space for civil society in Europe, in the neighbourhood countries and in the rest of the world.

The State of the Union? Could be better, must be better. Let's work on it!

Conny REUTER, Secretary General of Solidar
Co-chair of the Liaison Group
Links to our members' newsletters

News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
Brexit – a challenge and an opportunity for civil society organisations

We are still in a period of huge uncertainty about what Brexit really means for both the UK and the EU. There has been much analysis of the results of the referendum and that analysis starts to indicate some of the reasons for the leave majority vote. It does not perhaps come as much of a surprise that many people in the UK have lost confidence in both institutions and politicians at a national as well as at an EU level.
But the vote has demonstrated deep and increasing inequalities in the UK. Many people who voted to leave feel as if they have been left behind while others prosper, that their salaries have been decreasing or standing still, and they have a perception that jobs have been going to EU migrants. However, Brexit plays out , we need to find ways to heal these deep divisions as well as address the xenophobia which is on the increase as well as the intergenerational tensions which have arisen from the result. 
What can civil society organisations do? We need to see active citizenship and participation in community building as a tool to increase social cohesion. For my organisation, we see volunteering and social action as the key way to build renewed confidence and resilience in our communities whether they vote to leave or to remain. Below is a link to key research just published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which sheds much light on voting patterns in the referendum.
Oonagh Aitken, Chief executive, Volunteering matters

27 September, EESC, Brussels
COFACE Families Europe, representing 25 million families across 23 countries, wishes to actively participate in shaping the future European Pillar of Social Right s, starting with a half-day reflection seminar in Brussels on 27th September 2016.

The EU must wake up and use the European Pillar of Social Rights as a meaningful process which drives rights-based social policy/service innovation at local level, and also serve as a genuine fundamental rights checklist for developing family-friendly EU policies and laws beyond the social policy field. This is a unique opportunity for all social policy stakeholders to rebalance the political agenda of the EU Semester towards an equal focus on inclusion, employment and growth, driven by a strong rights-based social policy agenda for Europe.

Are you a beneficiary of or a participant in the Europe for Citizens Pr ogramme? Do you have ideas on how this Programme could be improved? The European Commission and the European Parliament are currently carrying out a mid-term evaluation of this Programme to reflect on its future after 2020. ECAS has launched a short survey to collect citizens' and organisations' views on it in order to put forward key recommendations to EU policy-makers. Thank you in advance for your contribution. Complete the survey here.

ECAS study on the Potential and Challenges of E-Participation in the European Union
The study was commissioned to ECAS by the European Parliament and published in May 2016. The main objectives of this study are to identify best practices in EU Member States, describe e-participation tools and initiatives at the EU level, and explain the benefits and challenges of e-participation. Download the full report here.

6th Lifelong Learning Week
10-13 October 2016, Brussels
The LLLPlatform, European Network of civil society organisations dedicated to the promotion of lifelong learning, will be holding its annual LLLWeek on 10-13 October in Brussels. Held in partnership with the European Youth Forum (YFJ), debates will focus on the ideas of learning to live together, flexible learning pathways and XXI Century Skills, gathering civil society, institutional and political representatives.

The LLLPlatform has published a position paper on Integrating refugees and migrants through education. In this paper, the LLLPlatform calls on EU Member States and other relevant actors to take responsibility, respect international laws and ensure integration of refugees and migrants into host societies using, among others, the educational tools provided in EU law and frameworks.

Education and training can support the socio-economic and political integration of refugees and migrants in the fabric of the host countries. While few doubt the importance of education as a powerful tool for social cohesion, however, commitment to inclusive education and lifelong learning opportunities often falls short.


13-14 October 2016, Brussels
European Volunteer Centre (CEV) invites you to register in PIPE - "Promoting Inclusion Preventing Extremism" policy conference that will take place on 13-14 October in Brussels. Read more here and register here.

18 October 2016, Brussels
This edition will focus on the challenges and the potential of e-participation for re-engaging with EU citizens and for bridging the gap between them and politicians. Featured speakers include Maximilian Strotmann, Member of the Cabinet of EU Commissioner Ansip, MEP Isabella Adinolfi, shadow rapporteur of the own initiative report on e-Democracy in the EU, and MEP Eva Paunova.

In 2016, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) celebrates its 20th anniversary. Under the slogan “Join the Trip! 20 Years on the Road”, EASPD organises exciting activities which will bring service providers, persons with disabilities, decision makers and other partners and stakeholders together in Brussels.

7-8 November 2016, Berlin
The conference is organised jointly by COFACE Families-Europe and its German member Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Familien organisationen (AGF). Around 100 key stakeholders will get together to discuss this topic, aiming to stimulate debate, put some practical examples out there, and take a peek at what the future will bring. The conference will focus on families as new consumers and new workers, but ultimately assess to what extent these trends are creating new families (social impact).

News from the EESC
The EESC from the Inside Out - 2015 Annual activity report

Based on the EESC's 2015 Activity Report, this brochure is aimed at both the general public and the other institutions and contains an attractive presentation of the EESC's activities and achievements in 2015, a year in which it underwent major changes.

It provides an overview of all measures and initiatives undertaken last year and the principles underpinning them, in line with the EESC's mission.


The role of civil society in the European Energy Union
27 October 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia
The conference is organized by the Various Interests Group of the EESC. The aim of the conference is to obtain a better grasp of the role that civil society has to play in energy security and the transition to renewable energy at both national and regional levels.

The challenge is to channel civil society involvement and expertise towards creating more links, partnerships and dialogue between players at different level.

Mr Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ, Vice-President in charge of Energy Union of the European Commission will participate in the opening panel.
Past EESC events 
Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion
12-13 September 2016, EESC, Brussels
The Seminar was organised by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), in collaboration with the Council of Europe, the U.S. Mission to the EU and the EESC. The event focused on new dynamics in European societies through five workshops, plenary sessions, pitch presentations and match-making sessions. This seminar opened a space for practitioners and new stakeholders to better understand where social innovation is currently at, and what it means in the context of refugee inclusion.

opinions and debates relevant to Civil Society Organisations

EESC Legislative programme
(received referrals allocated to Sections in September 2016)
  • For details on received referrals as well expected referrals and exploratory opinions click here
  • Are you interested in getting information or in bringing input to one of the opinions? Do not hesitate to contact the relevant Section secretariat

EESC studies
  • Factors for Growth - Priorities for Competitiveness, Convergence and Cohesion in the European Union

EESC Newsletters
Civil dialogue in the EU
Mandatory Transparency Register - consultation results published
The Commission is currently working on a proposal for the Transparency Register. In the meantime, they have published the results of their consultation. The summary report is available here.


On 27 June, European Commission signed a statement on a 'new start for social dialogue'. The statement was co-signed by the European cross-industry social partners (ETUC, Busineseurope, UEPME, CEEP) and by the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The statement is part of the 'New Start for Social Dialogue' initiated by President Juncker at a high level conference on 5 March 2015 together with European, national and sectorial social partners and with the other EU institutions.

The statement underlines the fundamental role of European social dialogue as a significant component of EU employment and social policy making. It identifies actions to be undertaken by the signatories with the aim of further strengthening social dialogue at EU and national level.

European Economic and Social Committee
Rue Belliard 99, BE-1040 Brussels