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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
MAY  2015
“Review – renew – reset” was the motto of the 2015 annual ECI DAY, organised by the EESC together with ECAS – member of the Liaison Group - and other partner organisations actively involved in the development of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).
The event took place at a critical moment, with the new European Commission and European Parliament in place following the recent elections, and on the eve of the planned review of the ECI Regulation.

Many participants considered ECI Day 2015 to be the most successful one so far. The format of the event was unconventional: dynamic and interactive participation in a welcoming environment, workshops designed by the participants, social media monitoring, online participation from different countries (Latvia, Bulgaria and France) and voting on the proposals.

The challenges relating to the implementation of the first transnational instrument for participatory democracy, three years after the entry into force of the ECI Regulation, were clearly articulated and acknowledged in the recent institutional reports from the European Commission and the European Ombudsman: registering an ECI is not an easy task; the registration process should be more transparent and guidelines on what types of initiatives can be registered need to be developed. Collecting signatures both online and offline is burdensome and the tool needs to be revised in order to be more citizen friendly, enabling signatures to be collected from people across the EU regardless of where they live.

Organisers of ECIs need support from both the EU institutions and civil society organisations. In this framework, the EESC is providing free translation for organisers and, together with ECAS, the ECI Support Centre and the ECI campaign, will coordinate the services of a help desk.
The next step is for the European Commission and European Parliament to come up with a suitable revision agenda for the ECI Regulation in order to reset it and make it work. The message is clear: “It is now or never”.

Director of ECAS
Member of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
New TV Hard Talk: Europe’s youth debate their future

On Monday 25th May, 4pm, the first real European “hard talk” TV show for young people will be launched. #Hashtag, a new monthly series, is a live, lively and interactive discussion amongst young people from all over Europe, debating - and finding solutions to – the issues that they care about most. Broadcasting live via YouTube and later on various traditional broadcasters across Europe, the programme will provide a forum for young people.
The series, hosted by CNN/Euronews presenter Chris Burns, will first be broadcast live from the BOZAR Center for Fine Arts in Brussels. Featuring 100 young people from across Europe, the first show will debate the topic “Identity - Why do I or do I not feel European?”

Six Benefits of Cooperatives in Development

In preparation for June's theme Sustainable Green Growth, Decent Jobs and Businesses within the framework of the European Year for Development 2015, we are launching the campaign #SharetheBenefits. Every week, Cooperatives Europe will unfold one benefit of cooperatives in development.

News from the EESC
Conferences and events 
16 June 2015, Brussels 
This year's Civil Society Day is entitled “Civil dialogue: a tool for better legislation in the general interest” and aims at setting up principles and guidelines for a permanent and structured civil dialogue at European level. The discussions will focus on the Road Map that was adopted at the NGO Forum in Riga in March 2015 and on how to implement it through specific actions.

13 April 2015, Brussels 
The 2015 edition of the European Citizens' Initiative Day took place on 13th of April at the EESC and was for the first time organized in an open space event, based on participatory methodologies. Between presentations, voting sessions and workshops, discussions were intense and the will to reform the ECI, to make it a more accessible tool was strongly reaffirmed! Read the report!

European Passport to Active Citizenship (EPTAC)
The new EPTAC in 23 official languages facilitates public participation across the European Union, the world’s biggest transnational democracy.  It offers "quick guides", factsheets, background information, pathfinders and navigators to all aspects of modern European democracy, including a toolkit of participation resources and a detailed manual on the European Citizens Initiative (ECI).

Opinions in the pipeline

Opinions adopted relevant to Civil Society Organisations

Civil dialogue in the EU
Third Sector Impact (TSI), a comparative research project financed by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme aiming to give visibility to the third sector in Europe, published a common definition of the sector based on a bottom-up approach engaging researchers and third sector stakeholders from eight European countries. It provides a foundation for documenting the third sector’s collective contributions and for designing policies that take greater advantage of its unique strengths. The next important TSI event is a seminar with EU and national statistical agencies to discuss better data collection on the third sector on June 1st in Brussels.

European Economic and Social Committee
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