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Liaison Group with European civil society organizations and networks
MARCH 2019
For the sake of Europe

When the French President Emmanuel Macron presented his proposals for the future of Europe, his second attempt after the Sorbonne speech, we could not help but smile. Were there civil servants in the Elysée Palace who had pasted and copied what was already the programme of the other president, the one of EESC, who had given his presidency the theme of “rEUnaissance”? We will probably never know, but in any case it shows that the EESC and civil society in general are not only in touch with the pulse of Europe, but also with the pulse of citizens and know what they expect.
In so far as there is something to criticise in Macron's proposal, it is that – for him – civil society is once again not a relevant interlocutor: he usually addresses (selected) citizens directly. And yet, the French are the ones who brought the notion of “corps intermédiaires” to Europe and the institutions. This is not really an export model, but a relevant concept largely shared in our understanding of civil dialogue alongside Article 11 TFEU.
The EU does not need to be reinvented as it already exists. However, discussing how it can be improved so that it can respond better to global and social challenges, to the aspirations of its citizens, this is what makes the concept of “rEUnaissance” so interesting. The EESC will have the chance to present its vision of Europe's future ahead of the upcoming Sibiu summit and this should be more than just the usual lengthy list of long-standing requests. Make Europe more sustainable in all respects: economic, social, environmental, coupled with a more resilient and inspiring democracy.
Opinions are relevant. However, in the end we need to show our commitment not only when travelling to and from Brussels and in meetings. An excellent opportunity to show commitment is the March for Europe on 24 March. We are counting on you! Our message will be clear: we will not allow those seeking to destroy the EU to claim they are in the majority. They are in the minority!

Conny Reuter
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
Eurochild conference on quality alternative care for children in migration, Brussels, 3 April
Eurochild brings together Members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials, and civil society from both the EU and national level, with the aim of capitalising on existing EU commitments on the issue of protection of children in migration. More info here.


UEF: Federal Committee meeting, Barcelona, 26-28 April

The Committee will determine the Union of European Federalists' political direction and activities between the Congresses. The plenary debate will focus on "A sovereign Europe to promote sustainability and combat climate change". More info 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 philanthropy – the migration crisis, the threats to freedom of speech, and support for human rights in Europe. The conference will also look ahead, to see how laying foundations can encourage new forms of solidarity and inclusion. Read morehere 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 as part of 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 registerhere.


IUT: European Responsible Housing Awards Ceremony, Lyon, 6 June

During this award ceremony, the organisers wish to showcase that exemplary and innovative ideas and best practices are already happening on the ground. Read more here.


EFIL: "Intercultural Learning @ School", Berlin, 21-24 August

The European Federation for Intercultural Learning, in cooperation with the International Association for Intercultural Education and the European School Heads Association, is organising in Berlin the international teacher training course "Intercultural Learning @ School". More information here and registration by 31 March here.


EFIL: AFS Global Conference: Active Global Citizenship and How to Educate for It, Montreal, 9-11 October

More than 600 educators, non-profit organisations, businesses, governments, and young people are eager to move on from theoretical debates and work together on this issue. Submit your proposal by 15 April. More information, here.


COFACE: Call to action to safeguard a social, inclusive and democratic Europe

On the occasion of the EESC's event "Civil Society for rEUnaissance", COFACE President, Annemie Drieskens, called for a strong European Parliament to support policies and laws founded on core democratic values of gender equality, non-discrimination, social inclusion, solidarity, and human rights. Read the speech here.


LLLPlatform: What do NGOs think of Erasmus+?

The Lifelong Learning Platform has released the report of its Erasmus+ Annual Implementation Survey 2017/2018. Thesurvey aims to assess the needs of beneficiary organisations and prospect applicants of the most famous EU programme, address their expectations, and ultimately help the Erasmus+ move forward.


LLLP and ALL DIGITAL: Awareness-raising on digital skills and media literacy, Brussels, 26 March

The workshop will explore how we can work together to support the 43% of Europeans lacking digital skills so that they can fully participate in and benefit from the digital society. Stakeholders from government, industry, academia and civil society will discuss how to inform citizens about the relevance of digital competences, while presenting innovative educational approaches. Read more and register here.


CEV: European Volunteer Capital 2021 call for candidates

CEV launches the eighth edition of the European Volunteer Capital Competition which aims to promote volunteering at local level. It shares best practice and gives recognition to municipalities that support and strengthen partnerships with volunteer centres and volunteer-involving organisations in their communities. Read more here.


SOLIDAR: Manifesto for Social Justice in Europe

In view of the European elections, SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation published a manifesto in which tools such as Agenda 2030, the SDGs and the European Pillar of Social Rights are defined as the first step to further implementation, with a view to once again delivering peace, well-being and progress. Read the whole text here.


EFC: Mapping of environmental funding by European foundations
The European Foundation Centre’s (EFC) European Environmental Funders Group (EEFG) launched the fourth edition of its mapping of environmental funding, the most comprehensive study to date into the state of European philanthropic funding for environmental issues. Read more here.

Past events
EASPD: Ageing and Disability conference, Brussels, 21-22 March
At this conference, the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) used interactive workshops to examine the topic of "ageing and disability". Read more here.


European Civic Forum: Civil Society Conference on the Future of Europe, Berlin, 21-22 March

The #MEGA (Make Europe Great for All) campaign stopped in Berlin for the conference "Not without Us! – Civil Society Conference on the Future of Europe", organised by the National Network for Civil Society in partnership with the European Civic Forum. Read more here.


ECAS: Digital Democracy Day 2019, Brussels, 7 March

The event titled "Harnessing the Potential of Technology in Elections", organised by the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) focused on the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to get citizens involved in elections, with a particular focus on the 2019 EP elections. Read more here.


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, held a public event in the form of a citizens' agora aimed at sparking a debate on the future of Europe. Read more here.


ESU: Launch of the #VoteForEducation campaign
The European Students' Union (ESU) 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.

News from the EESC
European Consumer Day 2019, Brussels, 27 March
This year's European Consumer Day focuses on young consumers and the trends in consumption patterns driven by technology. Participatory workshops on mobility, food and clothing as well as a live debate on social media impacts are planned. For the programme and registration click here.


ECI DAY 2019: Digital Voices, Brussels, 2 April

ECI Day 2019 will be the first to present 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. The ECI Day will explore the new digital trends in the particular context of the European elections. Read more here and follow the event on twitter #ECIDay.


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, on how to implement the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees and on the role that civil society organisations play in this. Read more here.


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

Current pressures on our democratic systems and the urgent need for progress regarding SDGs, determined the choice of the thematic priorities for this year's edition: Democracy and Sustainability. Six workshops will take a closer look at what Sustainable Democracy could mean from different angles. Check out the programme here and follow the event on Twitter #CivSocDays.


EESC study – Societies outside Metropolises: the role of civil society organisations in facing populism
The EESC recently published a study, mainly carried out by ECAS, which has a twofold objective: to provide a better understanding of the factors influencing citizens' choices in favour of populism in non-metropolitan areas and an insight into how civil society organisations operate to counter populism, with a view to recommending further civic actions. Read more here.

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

Making rural areas the engines of a sustainable Europe, Brussels, 14 March
The EESC's Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment and the European Rural Parliament organised this event to throw a spotlight on the future of rural areas, whose largely unused potential opens up promising opportunities when it comes to implementing the sustainable Europe we want. 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, held 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.


Civil Society in Action: European Bioeconomy Strategy, Brussels, 28 February
This public meeting aimed to gather the views of civil society on how the updated Bioeconomy Strategy can be put into practice. Read more here.


Civil Society and the path to a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, Brussels, 28 February
This public hearing drew on the Commission's "A clean planet for all" reflection paper and fed into the EESC's opinion in response to this strategy. Read more here.


Civil society for the rEUnaissance, Brussels, 21 February
This conference, organised to mobilise civil society at all levels for the European elections, was a huge success thanks to inspiring speeches by leaders of civil society organisations, by various presidents of European institutions and by the most awaited climate activist Greta Thurnberg. Read more about the event and the afternoon workshops 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 on identifying the concrete next steps to achieve the SDGs in the EU within the eleven years that are left. Read more here.

EESC Plenary Session, 20-21 March 2019
  • Debate on the European Citizens' Initiative "Stop extremism"
  • Debate with Patrick Bernasconi, President of the French ESC
  • Adoption of the opinions on:
    • The Future of the EU: Benefits to citizens and respect for European values (SC/052)
    • The real right of persons with disabilities to vote in European Parliament elections (SOC/554)
    • Employment opportunities for economically inactive people (SOC/575)
    • Supportive education systems to avoid skills mismatches – what transition is needed? (SOC/576)
    • Resilient Democracy through a strong and diverse civil society (SOC/605)
    • Education about the European Union: its functioning, positive achievements and concrete benefits for citizens (SOC/612)
    • Action Plan against Disinformation (TEN/687)
    • The future of cohesion policy (ECO/484)
All the EESC opinions adopted can be consulted here.  
Civil dialogue in the EU
New European Citizens' Initiative on vaping regulation
"Let's demand smarter vaping regulation!" calls on the EU Commission to repeal Article 20 of Directive 2014/40/EU and create bespoke legislation which clearly sets vaping products apart from tobacco and pharmaceutical products. The ECI's collection was opened on 20 February and shall last one year. Read more here.


New European Citizens' Initiative on Inclusive education for children with disabilities

"Europe CARES - Inclusive Quality Education for Children with Disabilities" claims the right to inclusive education of children and adults with disabilities within the European Union. In this case, the ECI's collection was opened on 4 March and shall last one year. Read more here.


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. Read more about the three sections - a reporting point, a section with alerts from civil society on burning issues, and a database of institutional resources for legal instruments - here.

Links to our members' newsletters

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