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Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks
The EESC very recently had the honour to welcome Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Commission, and I was happy to hear that he recognises the need to prolong the European Investment Plan, aiming to mobilise 500 billion euros by 2020 in order to help Member States which are struggling with unemployment. Mr Juncker also emphasised the need for all Member States to demonstrate solidarity when dealing with irregular migration and to see refugees first and foremost as people. I hope that the decision to establish a European external investment plan covering Africa will indeed create jobs and contribute to the overall stability and prosperity of the African countries, so that fewer and fewer people will be forced to emigrate.

Mr Juncker has acknowledged the fact that European citizens are losing faith in Europe and that populists are taking over without offering any solutions to the existing social problems. He flagged up the need to preserve union in our Europe. Creating a pillar of social rights should draw upon and expand the EU's social acquis to signal the direction to be taken by policies in a number of areas crucial to the smooth and fair operation of the labour markets and social protection systems, with the ultimate aim of boosting social cohesion.

Those who blame the EU for the crisis should remember that it is precisely the union of European states that has allowed them to enjoy peace and stability since the end of the Second World War. By achieving social progress and ensuring social cohesion, European civil society and its representative organisations can make a vital contribution.

Georges DASSIS, EESC President
Co-chair of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
Civil society united against far-right politics

177 European and national civil society organisations and trade unions, most Liaison Group member organisations included, supported a common statement towards more “social and sustainable” policies aimed at defusing far-right politics. The statement was drafted on the initiative of WWF, CONCORD Europe, ETUC and European Youth Forum, and is supported by Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission and Honorary Citizen of Europe.

‘Europe for citizens’ - consultation result

The European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) launched an internal consultation among its members, partners and networks in early July on the ‘Europe for Citizen’s programme, in order to identify its pitfalls and weaknesses, while also highlighting its strengths and potential. The main findings are summarised in this document & this infographic.

Consultation on the European pillar of social rights - the IUT responds

The International Union of Tenants (IUT) has responded to the Commission’s consultation on the pillar of social rights, opposing tax incentives for homeowners and investors as they fuel house prices and increase the costs of welfare provision. The IUT is in favour of tenure-neutral housing policies and a more universal model of affordable housing in the EU. Read more here.

Freedom of Choice in Europe, 7 November 2016, Brussels
Coinciding with its 10th anniversary, the European Alliance of Initiatives for Applied Anthroposophy (ELIANT), supported by ECAS, is organising a conference on the importance of greater availability of choice for the benefit of European citizens. Parallel workshops will bring together key experts in various policy fields, including education, agriculture and land sharing, medicine and public health, minorities and democracy. Invitation. Event hashtag : #Citizens2Choose.

Cooperative Platforms in a European Landscape: An Exploratory Study 

The first known European exploratory study of its kind provides an overview of established cooperatives already developing innovations in the collaborative economy field and reveals the results of the online mapping study, analysing 38 cases from 11 European countries and 3 initiatives from outside the EU.

“State of the Union” speech: the Liaison Group reacts
Commission President Juncker was invited to the EESC's September plenary to debate about his 'state of the Union' speech. In the ensuing discussion, Conny Reuter welcomed the new, more social tone of Mr Juncker's speech, which touched upon themes such as that of a protective union, solidarity and a broader definition of security which includes social security as well.

To watch the full debate, please consult this link (Conny Reuter's intervention starts at 14m53s).
Cooperatives Europe's reaction:
"Although we regret that entrepreneurship was addressed only through start-ups and capital market union, Cooperatives Europe welcomes Juncker’s plan of action. It could be an opportunity for cooperatives and other social economy actors, to contribute towards shaping a better Europe. It is however important to mainstream the cooperative model within EU policies." Full press release

AGE Platform Europe’s annual conference, 18 November 2016, Brussels

AGE Platform Europe will hold its fourth Annual Conference on 18 November 2016 in Brussels, the day after its General Assembly. The 2016 edition will be the opportunity to discuss among its member-organisations, policy-makers and external guests how the EU should address age discrimination, while strengthening both economic and social rights of older people in order to empower them as equal citizens.
Past events
Launch of SDG Watch Europe

SDG Watch Europe was officially launched on 13 October 2016. SDG Watch Europe is a new, EU-level, cross-sectoral CSO alliance of NGOs from development, environment, social, cultural, human rights and other sectors. Its goal is to hold governments accountable for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).

‘From Europe to Local: Migrating solidarity’ book launch

On 10 October 2016, the Foundation of European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and SOLIDAR held an event to launch the book ‘From Europe to Local: Migrating Solidarity'. The consensus was that human mobility will be an inherent feature of the 21st century for Europe. The book reflects on the challenges and how we could face them.
News from the EESC
Civil Society Media Seminar 2016 - “Communicating migration”

24-25 November 2016, Vienna

The EESC’s Communication Department is organising its 10th Civil Society Media seminar on "Communicating Migration", focusing on the communication aspects in the context of migration, refugees and integration. The aim of the event is to discuss and debate how communication tools and the media have been instrumental in telling the story of migration into and across Europe.

Past EESC events 
Public hearing on effectiveness of ESF and FEAD funding in tackling poverty and social exclusion, 4 October 2016, Brussels

Preparing the EESC’s upcoming own-initiative opinion, the hearing collected observations and recommendations based on the experiences of civil society organisations with the implementation of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) for combating poverty and social exclusion.

EESC plenary session 19 - 20 October
  • All adopted EESC opinions can be consulted here
EESC legislative programme
  • For details on received referrals and expected referrals allocated to Sections in October, 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
A new portal on Better Regulation

The portal, which was launched during the summer, helps to implement the Commission's Better Regulation Agenda and contributes to the broader efforts to increase transparency in the EU institutions.

European Week of Local Democracy
European Week of Local Democracy is a Europe-wide event organised every year by local authorities from the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. Its objective is to increase citizens’ knowledge on their responsibility  at the local level and promote their participation.
Special features
Proposal for a European Solidarity corps

The Commission has proposed to set up a European Solidarity Corps. A lot of people are wondering what is the corps, how will it work and who can join? If you are one of them, here’s a FAQ to provide you the answers.

Proposal for a new mandatory Transparency Register

On 28 September, the European Commission proposed a mandatory Transparency Register covering all three EU institutions – the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. According to the Commision, the proposals will ensure high standards of transparency in all three institutions. However, the European Movement suggests that the proposal falls short on some key elements.

Dear EU, do you have a plan for the unemployed?

The European Pillar of Social Rights is the European Commission’s latest major initiative in the field of employment and social affairs. This first outline for a Pillar of Social Rights should help to foster upward convergence in the social and employment fields across the EU. Listen to the European Parliament’s research service's (EPRS) detailed podcast reflecting on the initiative.

Young People’s access to rights

In a big step for youth rights, the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on young people’s access to rights. The European Youth Forum calls on CoE member states to act and give young people full access to their rights, so that they can live the kind of independent lives, free from discrimination, that they are entitled to.

External links
Future of Europe

Pierre Baussand, Director of the Social Platform reflects on the Hungarian Referendum and wonders about the potentially damaging consequences if EU countries embark on the same path of questioning agreed EU decisions.

Effects of Brexit on the Europe for Citizens Programme

Daniel Boffey of The Guardian claims there is a good chance for a post-Brexit restoration of budget of the ‘Europe for Citizens' programme, cut in 2013 from €215m to €185.5m at the request of the UK. ‘Europe for Citizens’ aims to foster the notion of an EU citizenship through remembrance events, town twinning and involvement in European parliamentary elections.

Links to our members' newsletters

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