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Liaison Group with European civil society organizations and networks
February 2019

"Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings." (Elie Wiesel, Romanian-US American Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
It is this spark of hope that was ignited through the vibrant and diverse interventions during the EESC's 'Civil society for a rEUnaissance' event on 21 February. Several hundred participants with very different backgrounds, EESC members and other members of European civil society, joined voices to propose suggestions for the "Future of Europe", ahead of the meeting of European Heads of State in Sibiu on May 9th and the 2019 European elections.
The title of the conference was chosen to deliberately refer to the need for a second European Renaissance. The need for a vast humanistic revolution, bringing together culture, science, the art of government and the organisation of economic and social life. Similarly to its humanist ideals, we need to once again empower citizens to act as protagonists of their lives.
The conference put into practice the need to re-install a culture of listening, to better understand others' positions. We must raise the 'voices of the good', as Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy, said recently. We must listen to the people whose hopes and opinions are drowned out by the incessant violence of populist rallying cries. The majority whose constant, daily efforts to improve their lives and those of their communities do not make it to the headlines of the tabloids.
This increasing polarisation and negativity in our societies, which is starting to tarnish also European-level politics, needs to be counteracted: Instead of being violently against- let us be passionately for something. It is our obligation, in these challenging times, to propose positive visions and constructive, inclusive solutions.
Let us be passionately for Europe.
I am thrilled that the outcomes of this conference present a positive and intricate plea for the future, allowing us to dream of a re-energised, diverse and united Europe.

Luca Jahier
EESC President
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
UEF Citizens’ Agora “We are Europe” on the future of Europe, Budapest, 22-23 February
The Union of European Federalists (UEF), in cooperation with partner organisations, is holding a public event in the form of a citizens’ Agora aimed at sparking a debate on the future of Europe. The Agora will be a chance for participants to address crucial political issues of the moment, such as the future of – and challenges facing – democracy and the rule of law in Europe and the Visegrad perspective on the future of Europe debate. Read more and register for the event here.


EMI: Investing in the Future of Europe, Prague, 6 March
Together with the European Investment Bank, European Movement International is holding a series of events in different countries entitled "Investing in the Future of Europe". At its event in the Czech Republic, key figures will discuss the benefits of EU membership to the Czech Republic, and how its role could and should develop in the future. Read more here.


ECAS: Digital Democracy Day 2019, Brussels, 7 March

An event titled "Harnessing the Potential of Technology in Elections" will focus on the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to engage citizens in elections, with a particular focus on the 2019 European Parliament elections. Through examples and data collection, experts and participants will discuss how digital technology can be used in elections for different purposes and best practices to increase participation. You can read the full agenda here and register here.


EASPD: Ageing and Disability conference, Brussels, 21-22 March
At this conference, the EASPD will use interactive workshops to examine the topic of "ageing and disability". To read more about the conference and register, click here.


EMI: Democracy Alice: The European Democracy Festival, Texel (Netherlands), 11-13 April
Within the context of the Alliance for Democracy and in partnership with the European Parliament, the European Movement International is inviting you to a celebration of European democracy in view of the European elections. DEMOCRACY ALIVE aims to encourage civic engagement and increase interest in European democracy. Read more here.


YFJ: Yo!Fest 2019, Brussels, 30 April

The European Youth Forum invites you to the second edition of its political youth festival Yo!Fest. Young people from all over the EU and beyond will be invited to take part in free activities, debates and music performances, all happening right outside the European Parliament in Brussels. Learn more here.


EASPD conference: "Investing in social services, investing in people", Bucharest, 16-17 May

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) will be holding a European conference looking at funding in the social services sector, identifying needs and gaps, contrasting different regional funding frameworks, and discussing what role private investment can play. Read more here.


EFC Conference: Liberty, Equality, Philanthropy, Paris, 22-24 May

At its annual General Assembly and Conference, the European Foundation Centre will focus on how to answer pressing issues in philanthropic involvement – the migration crisis, the threats to freedom of speech, and support for human rights in Europe. The conference will also look beyond, to see how foundations can encourage new forms of solidarity and inclusion. Read more here and register here.


LLLP: Policy Forum on the Role of Lifelong Learning Centres in Preventing Young People from Disconnecting, Brussels, 29 May

The Lifelong Learning Platform, Cedefop, and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Education is holding this policy forum to explore the potential of Community Lifelong Learning Centres for preventing young people at risk and school dropouts from disconnecting. Save the date and read more here.


CEV: Capacity-building conference "Volunteering in the social sector in Europe", Budapest, 30-31 May

Registration has opened for this capacity-building conference, which is being held under the Erasmus+ SolVol project. It will bring together stakeholders in the voluntary sector as well as regional and local authorities aiming to further develop the volunteer sector. Read more about the event here and register here.


ESU: Launch of the #VoteForEducation campaign

The European Students' Union has launched its campaign for the European elections under the umbrella #VoteForEducation. The campaign focuses on three central demands: inclusive higher education, academic and press freedom, and sustainable high quality funding for higher education. You can support the campaign and read more here.

Past events
ECAS: Workshop on Fostering Awareness, Inclusion and Recognition of EU Mobile Citizens' Political Rights, Brussels, 19 February
Ahead of the 2019 European Parliament elections, this event sought to understand why the involvement of the EU's itinerant citizens in the political life of their host countries remains very limited and their potential to contribute to local political life and society is not fully realised. The workshop turned awareness into action, with speakers not only identifying the barriers, but also discussing recommendations for improving the political involvement of people living and working around the EU. Read the programme here.


EFC: Launch of the new issue of Activizenship magazine, Brussels, 11 February

The European Civic Forum hosted a networking cocktail party for the release of Activizenship #3. The magazine once again explores possible forms of civic, social and political activism that contribute to rethinking and reshaping citizenship and democracy. It also attempts to capture current trends and transformations affecting the civil society environment in Europe and worldwide and to connect ideas and experience about changing the world from the grassroots up. You can read the magazine here.


SOLIDAR: Silver Rose Awards 2019, Brussels, 29 January

With its annual Silver Rose Awards, Solidar honoured civil society organisations and individuals campaigning for social justice and solidarity throughout the world. Awards were presented in three categories: "Together for Social Europe", "Building Learning Societies" and "Organising International Solidarity". Read more here.


LLLP at the Future of Learning Forum and Civil Society Day, Brussels, 24-25 January

On January 24-25 LLLP and its members attended the European Commission's Future of Learning Forum, followed by a civil society day focusing on the main challenges for education and training beyond 2020. This was a unique opportunity for LLLP, its members and partners to give the Commission their input on the development of the next framework. Read more here.

News from the EESC
Civil Society and the path to a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, Brussels, 28 February
This public hearing draws on the Commission's "A clean planet for all" reflection paper and feeds into the EESC's opinion on the paper drafted by the Commission. It aims to enable a discussion between experts, stakeholders, and decision-makers on three issues: cross-cutting challenges, governance and the involvement of civil society. Read more here.

Civil Society in Action: European Bioeconomy Strategy, Brussels, 28 February
This public meeting aims to gather the views of civil society on how the updated Bioeconomy Strategy can be put in to practice. Two themes will be covered – the first on how to find and implement opportunities in a sustainable manner, looking to the forestry and food sectors for inspiration. The second theme will explore how to overcome the obstacles of access to finance and how to stimulate markets. Read more here.


2019 Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference: Success Stories and New Challenges, Brussels, 6-7 March

The European Circular Economy Platform, a joint venture of the Commission and the EESC, will hold its 2019 edition to assess the action plan on the circular economy and also delve further into the role of civil society. Read more here.


European Consumer Day 2019, Brussels, 15 March

This year's European Consumer Day focuses on the role of young people and their specific interests as consumers. The event will first identify consumption trends among younger consumers, to then discuss whether current EU consumer policy is up to the task, and how it can improve its performance with regard to the particularities of young consumers' interests. Read more and register here.


Your Europe Your Say: Vote for the Future!, Brussels, 21-22 March
For the tenth time, the EESC invites students from all over Europe to Brussels to share their views on the EU and its future. 99 students from 33 countries will meet and draft a document to express their position on – and expectations of – the EU. Read more here.


ECI DAY 2019: Digital Voices, Brussels, 2 April
The year 2019 marks a new step in the life of the European Citizens' Initiative. ECI Day 2019 will be the first to present you with the final text of the new Regulation and will explore further how it is intended to benefit active citizens wishing to influence the EU's agenda. This year, the theme of the conference will be Digital Voices, reflecting the ongoing changes in the global trends in voting and citizens' active participation. Digital natives no longer wait for elections to express their preferences; they voice their concerns at all times and at every opportunity. The ECI Day will explore these new digital trends in the particular context of the European elections. Read more here.


European Migration Forum – 5th Meeting, Brussels, 3-4 April

This year's European Migration Forum will focus on safe and regular migration, for both humanitarian and other reasons, including thoughts on how to implement the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees and on the role that civil society organisations and other local actors can play in this interaction between the international and the local dimension. Read more here.


Civil Society Days 2019, Sustainable Democracy in Europe, Brussels, 12-13 June

Against the backdrop of current pressures on our democratic systems threatening fundamental values and civic space and the urgency of progress regarding SDGs, the thematic focus of this key civil society event will be Democracy and Sustainability. Under this twofold pillar, six workshop will take a closer look from several angles, as resilience of democracy, economy, social dimension of sustainability, youth, culture and education.. Stay up to date here and on Twitter with #CivSocDays.

Past EESC events
Civil society for the rEUnaissance, Brussels, 21 February
To draw attention to Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union and to mobilise civil society at all levels for the European elections, this was the two-fold objective of this event. A debate with leaders of civil society organisations, speeches by various presidents of European institutions and by climate activist Greta Thurnberg enriched the morning session followed by thematic workshops in the afternoon. Read more here


Sustainable Europe by 2030, Brussels, 12 February

This public debate was the first after the publication of the "Towards Sustainable Europe by 2030" reflection paper, and centred around identifying the concrete next steps to achieve the SDGs in the EU within the eleven years that are left. Three national sustainable development strategies were reviewed to deepen the discussion. Read more here.


The Social Economy for the Future of the European Union, Brussels, 6 February

This conference, organised by the EP Intergroup on Social Economy, aimed to take stock of what has been done on the social economy in the last five years. Read more here.


Public hearing on Resilient Democracy, Brussels, 6 February

This public hearing prepared the ground for an opinion aimed at promoting the value of strong civil society organisations as automatic stabilisers in our democratic systems. It addressed the current challenges and discussed how civil society organisations need to be supported at the local, regional, national and European level. Read more here.


Public hearing on Digital Health Literacy, Brussels, 30 January

This hearing sought to review the results already achieved in digital health literacy, while also exploring what steps to take next in this area. The event brought together various stakeholders from the European institutions, the private sector, academia and the non-profit sector. Read more here.

EESC Plenary Session, 20-21 February 2019
  • Debate with Phil HOGAN, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Adoption of the opinions on:
    • For a European Framework directive on a Minimum Income (SOC/584)
    • PEACE IV - Continuation of cooperation programmes (ECO/490)
    • The promotion of healthy and sustainable diets in the European Union (NAT/755)
    • The digital revolution from the point of view of citizens' needs and rights (TEN/679)
All the EESC opinions adopted can be consulted here.
Civil dialogue in the EU
ECF: Launch of the Civic Space Watch
In cooperation with CIVICUS and others, the European Civic Forum has launched the Civic Space Watch, a collective knowledge-sharing observatory platform for infringements of the civic domain. There are three sections: a reporting point, a section with alerts from civil society on burning issues, and a database of institutional resources for legal instruments to protect civil liberties. Have a look at the website and read more here.


Niccolò Milanese in Carnegie Europe: Democratising Europe's Economy

In this article, Niccolò Milanese argues that one of the biggest dimensions of democratic reform is often overlooked: the necessity to also reform the political economy of democratic participation. Milanese suggests that "the European Union should set itself a new mission for democratising the globalised workplace". Read the whole article here.


New publication from the European Political Strategy Centre: "Strong Europe, Better World: Defending Global Cooperation, Multilateralism and Democracy in Turbulent Times

In its new publication, the EPSC has assessed the EU's position on standing up for multilateralism and democracy. Against the background of six decades of experience in pursuing cooperation, how can the EU project this experience onto the international realm and support democracy-building and multilateralism outside Europe? Read the full publication here.

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