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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
Quality or high speed?

With the future MFF, and in particular the Cohesion Funds, the real choices for the European Union are on the table. Not only BREXIT - if it becomes reality - but in the negotiations between the Council, the Commission and the EP the debate is at its most intense on the issue of speeding up. This is understandable in the light of the uncertainty about the future EP and the next European Commission. Looking at the European political landscape, the future outlook is anything but brilliant. Nevertheless depression will not help, nor will business as usual. Awareness-raising and mobilisation are needed!
Policies need financial support. The greatest benefit for citizens does not come from the Common Agricultural Policy, although now a little greenwashed, with the addition of certain elements of sustainable development. 5% of the European workforce are in agriculture, when roughly 40% of the EU budget goes to the sector. The beneficiaries are not those farmers who produce in a sustainable manner. It is agro-industry, whose leitmotiv is usually more and more production, growth at any price. This is not sustainable and sometimes has devastating consequences for animal welfare, soils and groundwater.
The Cohesion Funds are the funds that most effectively reach citizens in Europe and that can help to solve problems on the ground. It is not only a matter of the budget to be allocated, it is also about empowering those who are needed to put the policies in place. And there is work to be done: regional administrations and stakeholders are not always equal to the task, as the amount of unused funding is sometimes quite large, and there remain the problems of bad governance (usually called corruption) and ignorance of fundamental European values and the rule of law.
European funds are, however, a steering tool and should be better used as such. Time is an argument, but quality of delivery is more relevant. European funds are not a modern payment card, they should be the best investment in a – hopefully - sustainable future. It is up to institutional and organised European civil society to play the role of watchdog! It is about our common future!

Conny Reuter
Secretary-general of Solidar
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
Volonteurope: European Citizenship Awards 2018 – Last chance to vote online!
Rewarding initiatives which promote solidarity and contribute to the creation community cohesion, inclusion and social justice. Online voting will count for 50% in the final decision about winners in the categories Volunteer of the Year, Social Enterprise of the Year and Active Citizens' Initiative of the Year. Voting is open until the October 25. Read more and vote here.


Solidar: Nominations for the Silver Rose Award, open until 5 November
With its annual Silver Rose Awards Solidar celebrates Civil Society Organisations and individuals whose struggles contribute greatly to social justice and solidarity throughout the world. Nominations are called for in the categories Togeher for Social Europe – Social Affairs, Building Learning Societies – Education and Lifelong Learning, and Organising International Solidarity – International Cooperation. Read more and nominate here.


CEV: Autumn Volunteering Congress 2018, 25-26 October, Brussels

This congress aims to improve coordination between sending and hosting organisations. It also addresses the topics of efficiency and impact assessment, with a seminar on the ERASMUS+ project "Making It Matter". The candidates for the European Volunteering Capital 2020 will also be presented. See the full programme and read more here.


Eurochild Conference, Building a better Europe with children, Opatija, 29-31 October 2018

This conference will bring together practitioners, researchers, civil society actors, policy-makers and decision-makers, to improve children's participation in public decision-making. In keeping with the topic of the conference, a third of the participants will be under 18! Read the background paper reviewing ways of getting children to participate in decision-making around Europe here, and more about the event here.


Culture Action Europe Conference, Timişoara, Romania 25-27 October 2018

This year's Beyond the Obvious (BtO) Conference ctrl+shift HUMAN: Arts, Sciences and Technologies in Coded Societies will focus on the increasing importance of codes: from the fascination with the many possibilities codes offer, to new patterns that lead to redefinitions of creativity, disciplines, representation, globalisation, production, labour… all part and parcel of our increasing dependence on codes. Read more and register here.


European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Annual Conference 2018, Brussels, 5 November

The EEB conference will identify post-2020 environmental priorities. It is expected to deliver a strong message in the run-up to the 2019 European elections, that the environment must be given higher priority during the next five-year cycle. Read more and register here.


European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Diesel Summit – Fast Routes to Clean Air, Brussels, 6 November

EUROCITIES, the EPHA and Transport & Environment (T&E) are joining forces to organise the first ever European Summit on Diesel. Everybody concerned - high-level representatives of EU institutions, governments, cities, industry, academia and civil society – are invited to discuss what solutions there are. See the programme and register here.


Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Community (COFACE) Europe: Economics at the Service of Society, Brussels, 22-23 November

"Economics is too important to be left to economists." This encapsulates the rationale behind this seminar, to show civil society organisations how to sail against the wind and navigate the murky and obscure waters of economics in order to make a difference in the lives of Europeans. Read the full programme here.


Social Platform Flagship Conference "Building Social Europe," Lisbon, 29-30 November

Social Platform aims to combine discussions on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in the light of the upcoming European elections, ongoing discussions on the future of Europe and the next multiannual financial framework, and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Read more and register here.


Volonteurope: European Conference – Solidarity in Challenging Times, Gdansk, 3-4 December

This conference will focus on young people, volunteering, mobility and inclusive Europe. What might happen after Brexit and its impact on the future of mobility, as well as the successor to Erasmus+ and other European funding programmes post 2020, will all be up for discussion. Read more here.


Lifelong-Learning Platform (LLL): Lifelong-Learning Week 2018, Brussels, 3 – 7 December

This year's edition, hosted by MEP Jill Evans in the European Parliament in Brussels, will be dedicated to “Lifelong Learning Culture: a partnership for rethinking education”. On 3 December, the week starts with an informal drink, where you will find out who the winners of the LLLAwards 2018 are. Save the date, and stay tuned on the website, because registrations will take place soon!

Past events
European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), Annual Conference, Barcelona, 4-5 October 2018
This conference explored the impact of technology and digital solutions on the social care sector and gave participants an insight into promising practices, existing barriers and how to overcome them, and the legal and ethical framework for using digital solutions in the care sector. Read more here.


23rd annual EFC Grantmakers East Forum, Budapest 15-17 October

This conference explored the role of foundations in confronting the new threats and challenges to civil society in Europe and innovative approaches to fostering social cohesion. Read more here.


European Movement International (EMI): Investing in the Future of Europe, Vienna, 17 October

In cooperation with the European Investment Bank, European Movement International hosted another event in the series "Investing in the Future of Europe" in Vienna. Speakers from all walks of life gave their perspective on how to invest in the future of Europe and how governments, employers, unions and civil society can all contribute to the debate about the EU (and how it invests), bringing together a wide variety of viewpoints on the EU's future direction. Read more here.


EFC Research Forum Conference, Hanover, Germany, 17 - 18 October

The conference explored international collaborative projects within and beyond the philanthropic sector, with perspectives from researchers and funders alike. Read more here.
News from the EESC
Public hearing on better use of EU funds for people with disabilities in the new MFF, Brussels, 23 October
The EESC Study Group on Disability Rights is organising this hearing to look into the changes for funds available for including people with disabilities in the new MFF and cohesion policy and to identify what worked – and what did not – in the previous MFF. Recommendations for the future based on presentations of good practices will also be explored. Read more and register here.


Public hearing on Roma's health situation, Brussels, 29 October

The EESC Group on the Inclusion of the Roma is organising this hearing to look at the Roma's current health situation and their access to healthcare as well as at the situation in women's and children's health. There will also be a discussion on the solutions offered by the state to health problems brought about by poverty, as well as recommendations on the way forward.
Read more and register here.


SDGs and Initiatives for Sustainable Global Value Chains, Brussels, 30 October

The main goal of the conference is to raise awareness, across the EU, of how varying types of initiatives, actions, policies, and laws can encourage and ensure responsible business conduct and boost the achievement of the SDGs, identify success factors, and develop follow-up actions for upscaling them to EU level. Read more here.


Tackling premature obsolescence in Europe, Brussels, 30 November
The Committee is organising an event to take stock of the action taken by the EU institutions, Member States and Business to tackle planned obsolescence, and its impact on consumers and to discuss new ways of action. Read more here.
Past EESC events 
Hearing with Civil Society Organisations of Albania on Youth Policy and Youth Participation, Tirana, 24-25 September
The EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee organised this hearing with the civil society organisations (CSOs) on Youth Policy and Youth Participation in Albania on the occasion of its annual meeting. These meetings in Albania were part of the preparations for the 7th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, to be held in 2019. Read more here.


Implementing SDGs – Civil Society in Action, Brussels, 28 September

In the context of the third anniversary of the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda, the EESC held a public debate on how it is working towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – both with civil society and within the Committee itself. Read more here.


Public hearing on the European Pillar of Social Rights, Brussels, 3 October
Read more here.


EESC Diversity Europe group extraordinary meeting on the role of civil society organisations in facing populism, Feldkirch (Austria), 11 October

In this meeting the outcomes of the EESC study on "Societies outside Metropolis: the role of civil society organisations in facing populism" were debated. The event included four panel discussions on the populariy of EU scepticism, the role of civil society in problem-solving by the EU, the costs and benefits of EU membership, and the importance of a skilled workforce with good and inclusive employment prospects. Read more here.

EESC plenary session, 17-18 October 2018
  • Debate with Federica MOGHERINI, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission
  • Debate with Christos STYLIANIDES, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management
  • Adoption of the opinion on the education package (SOC/588)
  • Adoption of the opinion on a new European Union youth strategy (SOC/589)
  • Adoption of the opinion on a new European agenda for culture (SOC/590)
  • Adoption of the opinion on strengthening whistleblower protection at EU level (SOC/593)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the European Social Fund+ (SOC/597)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the Union's budget and the rule of law (SOC/598)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the New Justice, Rights and Values Fund (SOC/599)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF) and Integrated Border Management Fund (SOC/600)
  • Adoption of the opinion on Erasmus (SOC/602)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the European Solidarity Corps (2018) (SOC/603)
  • Adoption of the opinion on Horizon Europe (INT/858)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the Anti-Fraud Programme (INT/869)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the Regulation on the European Regional Development Fund 2021-2027 (ECO/462)
  • Adoption of the opinion on the LIFE programme for Environment and Climate Action (NAT/748)
  • Adoption of the opinion on strengthening the EU's civil protection response – rescEU (NAT/750)
  • Adoption of the opinion on accessibility and the reuse of public and publicly funded data (TEN/665)
  • Adoption of the opinion on sustainable mobility for Europe (TEN/666 )
  • Adoption of the opinion on the Digital Europe programme (TEN/677)

    All the EESC opinions adopted can be consulted here.
Civil Dialogue: Registration of new ECIs
"End the Cage Age"
Cages inflict suffering on enormous numbers of farm animals every year. They are cruel and unnecessary, as higher-welfare cage-free systems are viable. This European Citizens' Initiative therefore invites the Commission to propose legislation to prohibit the use of: cages for laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, ducks and geese; farrowing crates for sows; sow stalls, and individual calf pens. You can read more about it and register your support here.


"STOP FRAUD and abuse of EU FUNDS via better control of decisions, implementation and penalties"
The organisers of this citizens' initiative argue that the European institutions should be entitled to apply enhanced control in Member States that don't fall under the remit of the European Prosecutor’s Office, to prevent and penalise fraud and the abuse of EU funds. The initiative proposes that such enhanced control should cover a complete investigation into all the circumstances and the publication of fraudulent activities and other offences harming the financial interests of the EU. Read more on the initiative and register your support here.


"Eat ORIGINal! Unmask your food"
The stated objective of the proposed citizens' initiative is to impose mandatory declarations of origin for all food products in order to prevent fraud, protect public health and guarantee consumers' right to information, through mandatory country of origin labels, and an information requirement for the origin of ingredients in processed food. Read more and support the initiative here.

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