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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
APRIL 2018
Dear friends,

Two weeks ago I had the honour of opening – once again and sadly for the last time, since my mandate as president of the EESC and thus as co-chair of the Liaison Group expires this month – the ECI Day on our premises. This year's theme, Working Together, was aimed at highlighting the value of cooperation and shared responsibility in promoting active citizenship. Working together means concertation, dialogue and joint action.
There should be no doubt that the EESC has been assuming its share of responsibility in this process: it is the sole EU institution not only organising a big event on the European Citizen's Initiative every year since 2012, bringing together EU institutions and civil society, but also supporting engaged citizens by promoting their initiatives and facilitating their campaigns by offering them a platform in the Committee as well as a variety of services. As the "house of civil society", the EESC is the place of concertation and dialogue and has been working, together with civil society and the European Parliament, to help implement the European Commission's revision of the ECI Regulation.
I am pleased with the simplifications proposed so far to facilitate the ECI procedures by making it easier for citizens to participate in decision-making. Although the EESC would have preferred a more ambitious proposal in some regards, I hope that more and more Europeans will have the courage to take the initiative for the benefit of Europe. It is important that citizens know about this possibility – individual engagement can be a source of change. That's why we, as individuals, need to spread the word about the European Citizen's Initiative as a crucial participatory tool. And, more than ever, we will need civil society organisations to promote and defend our European values and to make change happen.
The Civil Society Days 2018 on citizenship, democracy and culture in a digitalised Europe, taking place on 24-25 May in the EESC, will be a further opportunity for civil society organisations to get involved and contribute to shaping a European Union that is more in tune with citizens' aspirations.
Let us continue working together for the common goal of active citizenship and effective participatory democracy!

Georges Dassis
President of the EESC
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group

News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
Social Services Europe: Debate on the role of social services, Brussels, EP, 24 April 2018
On 24 April, Social Services Europe will be organising a debate in the European Parliament on the role of social services in implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. Read more and register here.

CEV Capacity Building Conference: Volunteering in Culture, Rijeka, 19-20 April 2018
The European Volunteer Centre (CEV) is holding a conference on "Capacity Building: Volunteering in Culture" on 19-20 April 2018 in Rijeka, Croatia. The main objective of the conference is to identify the specific characteristics of volunteering in the area of culture, where the beneficiaries are not as visible as in other kinds of volunteering, e.g. social services or youth work. It will also consider how cultural projects promote intercultural dialogue, human rights, solidarity and social values. Read more and register here.

European Disability Forum, Conference on the Web Accessibility Directive, Vilnius, 26 May 2018
The EDF will hold a conference on the Web Accessibility Directive during its Annual General Assembly. The focus will be on how best to transpose this Directive into national legislation using the EDF toolkit. Expert speakers will present this important piece of EU legislation and debate how to transpose it into Member State law. Read more here.

EFC Conference 2018: "Culture matters", Brussels, 29-31 May
Against the backdrop of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the European Foundation Centre (EFC) is holding a conference entitled "Culture matters – connecting citizens & uniting communities" that will look at the importance of culture and how it connects citizens and unites communities, with a series of exciting exhibitions, topical sessions and thought-provoking visits. Read more and register here.


AGE Annual Conference 2018 on ensuring the right to self-determination, Brussels, 6 June 2018
On 6 June, AGE will be holding 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. Check out the programme.


EASPD Conference on the Social Economy, Varna, 14-15 June 2018
The European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) will be holding its European conference on the "Social economy as an effective model for social inclusion, social entrepreneurship, social services, employment" on 14-15 June 2018 in Varna, Bulgaria. For more details, check out the programme and register here.

Culture Campaign "Why does culture matter?"
Culture Action Europe has launched its 1% for Culture Campaign "Why does culture matter?" Join the campaign here. Supporting culture is supporting Europe!


LLLP Annual Conference on Lifelong Learning Culture, Vienna, 5-6 July 2018
The Lifelong Learning Platform invites you to its upcoming Annual Conference on 5-6 July, to take place in Vienna. This year it will be dedicated to creating a “Lifelong Learning Culture”, to finding a partnership between education and culture and to building more lifelong learning societies. Come and debate together with national, European and international representatives, experts, academics, civil society representatives and many others. Discover the full programme here and register here.

News from the EESC

European conference on volunteering, EESC, Brussels, 26 April
Take part in the final conference of EuroVIP - Volunteering experiences, a European project and a lever for the socio-professional inclusion of youth, to be held in Brussels at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 26 April. Read more and register here.

EESC Open Day, Brussels, 5 May 2018
To celebrate Europe Day on 5 May, the EESC, like all the other EU institutions, will open its doors to the public from 10:00 to 6:00. The public will have a unique opportunity to discover how the only institution dedicated entirely to representing organised civil society in Europe works and exchange views with its members so as to understand their role in the EU's decision-making process. The youngest will also have fun! Read more here.


Civil Society Days 2018, EESC, Brussels, 24-25 May 2018
The Civil Society Days 2018 (#CivSocDays) on "Citizenship, Democracy & Culture in a digitalised Europe" will take place on 24-25 May at the EESC, right after the plenary session at which it will celebrate its 60th anniversary. In six workshops, this largest of civil society events will address topics such as culture and education, identity and polarisation, cybersecurity and data protection, digital democracy and civil participation, the digital divide and artificial intelligence as a common good. Registration will open shortly. Find out more about the event.

Past EESC events 
European Dialogue on Non-State Climate Action, EESC, Brussels, 23 April 2018
The purpose of this event, organised jointly by the EESC, the CoR and the Climate Change Association on 23 April in Brussels, was be to put forward an action plan aiming at assessing, recognising, accelerating and supporting climate action, as well as improving governance. The event seeked to promote the common voice of non-state actors. Find out more here.


#ECIDay2018: Working Together, EESC, Brussels, 10 April 2018
The ECI Day on 10 April at the EESC provided an excellent opportunity to discuss the many changes facing the European Citizens' Initiative in the light of the European Commission's upcoming proposal. Check out more about the new proposal, the launch of the online collaborative platform, the workshops and presentations here.


Meeting of the EU-Georgia Civil Society Platform, Tbilisi, 22 March
At their meeting on 22 March, EU and Georgian civil society representatives discussed the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises and food safety in Georgia, as well as the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, and adopted a joint declaration. Read more.

EESC plenary session, April 2018
• Adoption of the opinion on "Funding the European Pillar of Social Rights" (ECO/457)
• Adoption of the opinion on a "European Framework for Quality and Effective
  Apprenticeships" (SOC/569)
• Adoption of the opinion on the "EU Action Plan 2017-2019 - Tackling the gender pay
  gap" (SOC/571)
• Luca Jahier, president of Group III (Various Interests Group) has been elected
  President of the European Economic and Social Committee for the next two and a
  half years.

All adopted EESC opinions can be consulted here.

EESC legislative planning
  • For details on expected and received referrals allocated to sections in April, as well as exploratory opinions, please click here.
  • Are you interested in obtaining or providing information on an opinion? Please contact the relevant section secretariat.
Civil dialogue
European Migration Network: 10-year anniversary, Brussels, 15 May 2018. Save the date!
To mark the 10-year anniversary of the establishment of the European Migration Network (EMN), a full-day conference will be held on 15 May 2018. This event will provide an opportunity for a high-level discussion about the future of migration and asylum in the EU, involving a range of key stakeholders in a stimulating discussion. More information coming soon.
Links to our members' newsletters

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