Click here if you are having trouble viewing this message.
Cliquez icipour accèder à la version française de la lettre d'information.
Liaison Group with European civil society organizations and networks
September 2019
Restart or kick-start for civil dialogue?
The president-elect of the European Commission has been approved by the Council and, by a narrow majority of nine votes, the European Parliament. In democracies we know that a majority is a majority – so far so good. Majorities are also constantly evolving and shifting, as the votes in the EESC regularly prove. And this is a good thing, as it enforces a principle that is too often neglected nowadays: that of compromise. So far Ms von der Leyen has only presented promises and not yet drawn red lines around the democratic rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms, employment and social standards, and many other sectors. That will be the moment of truth, and hopefully prove wrong the old adage that "if you try to please everybody, you will please nobody". Unfortunately, we cannot help but notice that civil dialogue is nowhere to be seen, unless you count the costly "Citizens' Dialogue" communication exercise.

Why are those in government so keen on communicating with the people, while all too often ignoring the real dialogue with organised civil society? It might be necessary to remind them of Article 11 and what it means. Luckily we, as European networks, have the opportunity to be part of civil dialogue through the EESC. We probably need to take on more of an influencing and agenda-setting role. And it would be helpful if organised civil society could coordinate a joint strategy instead of racing to be the first. In the end, implementing civil dialogue means changing the culture from communication and consultation to dialogue. Just dare to do it.

Conny Reuter
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group
News from the CSO members of the Liaison Group
Liaison Group, CivSocDays policy document adopted
At its last meeting with all members (EESC and SCO) on 12 September, the LG adopted the policy document from the 2019 Civil Society Days on Sustainable Democracy. This document is the political message, based on the conference's recommendations, that will be presented to newly-elected EP Vice-President Katarina Barley with responsibility for citizens relations at the next meeting with the member organisations from civil society, and later this year to designated Commissioner Šuica, responsible for democracy. Read the document here


COFACE: 'Shaping a healthy environment fit for children', Helsinki, 3-4 October 2019
This is a multi-stakeholder event co-organised by Vaestoliitto and COFACE Families Europe under the auspices of the Finnish presidency of the EU. It will bring together family professionals from across Europe to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Following a roundtable on 3 October covering evidence-based approaches to supporting families, on 4 October there will be two types of format for networking and learning: Open Spaces, which will explore six different topics, and Networking Hotspots, where different projects and activities will be presented during the lunch break. You can register here.


EASPD: Conference 'Staff Matters! Disability Workforce of Tomorrow', Helsinki, 3-4 October 2019
The conference will focus on the topics of recruitment, retention and training of social care & support workforce in the context of the growing demand for service delivery in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Conference participants will discuss and share best practices on how to manage human resources to facilitate the implementation of the UN CRPD. More info and registration here.


AGE: #AGeingEqual Campaign 2019 – 30 September – 6 October
It is no longer a secret that there are millions of older people across Europe. What remains less known though, is the active role many of them play in shaping the society of tomorrow. Among them are indefatigable volunteers, life-long activists and enthusiastic advocates of many causes.This October, the campaign will give a platform to those older campaigners who lead the change towards age equality. For more information or if you wish to join the campaign against ageism, click here.


CAE: Beyond the Obvious 2019 - Culture Crops, Konstanz (Germany), 23-26 October
The 2019 Edition of Beyond the Obvious, organised by Culture Action Europe, focuses on cultural practices in non-urban territories. The discussions will turn around questions like: How does cultural work in peripheral territories take place and how is it organised? What is the difference between urban visions of the rural and what the rural is today? Where does the rural begin and where does it end? Programme and registration here.


LLLPlatform: European Conference on Digital Footprint, Brussels, 24 October 2019
This conference, co-organised by Lifelong Learning Platform, the European Digital Learning Network and DIGIT project partners aims to address the topic of “digital footprint”, i.e. the record or trail left by the activities you carry out online, such as social media interactions, information on your personal website, your browsing history, your online subscriptions, any photo galleries/videos you’ve uploaded — essentially, anything that can be traced back to you online. How can we make citizens aware? Educational and digital stakeholders will discuss solutions at the European conference on digital footprint. Registration, programme and more info here.


EEB: 2019 Conference "Sailing the winds of change for Europe's environment", Berlin, 18 November
The European Environmental Bureau's annual conference will be held in cooperation with the EEB’s member Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR) and is set to discuss what true environmental leadership will look like in the coming years and how the European Union can succeed in protecting the natural world and the fundamentals of life. Programme, registration and more here.


CEV: Volunteering Congress, Brussels, 20 November 2019
Find out more and register here.


CEV announces the candidate municipalities for the European Volunteering Capital 2021
The two candidate municipalities for the European Volunteering Capital 2021 title are: Berlin (Germany) & Strovolos (Cyprus). Find out more here.
Led by the current #EVCapital 2019, Kosice, members of the European Volunteering Capital Candidate Community will host the participatory lab on "Solidarity and Volunteering – European Rights and Values from the bottom up" on 8 October from 14:30 - 17:00 at the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities. More information and registration are available here.


LLLPlatform: Policy statement, 2019 European Semester Country Specific Recommendations
LLLP has released a statement on lifelong learning as the backbone for a sustainable Europe to comment on the European Semester Country Specific Recommendations. While welcoming the progress made, LLLP calls for three concrete actions: a holistic approach to skills development; more investment in lifelong learning; more capacity-building for civil society. Read the statement here.


Culture Action Europe: Online petition to bring back culture in Commissioner Gabriel's title
To read and sign this petition, click here


ECAS and LLLP - #MyEUstory: Activism in Democracy
Do we take for granted what democracy and education bring us? As one builds upon the other, the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) and the Lifelong Learning Platform have teamed up to re-visit their impact with the #MyEUstory video series! In this months' #MyEUstory, Caroline Vernaillen from Democracy International shares what democracy means to her on a personal level and where the lines between policies and citizen responsibility meet. Join the campaign and tell us what your #MyEUstory is! Watch the video.


ECF: Success stories of resistance – Winners are out!
In May, the European Civic Forum launched the call for nomination Success stories of resistance aiming at discovering and collecting inspiring struggles of activists, organisations, associations, collectives of people fighting for fundamental rights against growing political apathy, consumerism, exclusion and individualisation in Europe. We are happy to announce the six laureates for this year's Activizenship Award: Mediterranea | Saving Humans from Italy, Defender a Quien Defiende from Spain, Comité Justice et Vérité pour Adama from France, Kõigi Eesti from Estonia, Linda Greta Zsiga from Romania, Krakow Smoke Alert from Poland. On 5 December, these inspiring struggles will be awarded by the European Civic Forum in Brussels in presence of representatives of EU and international institutions. These success stories will also be collected in the fourth edition of the magazine Activizenship.


COFACE: New Deal for Families of Today
The demographic transition and evolving family patterns, coupled with low economic growth, increasing digitalisation of our lives and an ever-changing labour market, are all structural factors placing pressure on families. COFACE Families Europe is ready to address these challenges in partnership with the European Union, in an attempt to find sustainable and lasting solutions for the future. This list of key short-term demands to be achieved by the new 2020-2024 European Commission, are to be seen as practical steps to meet the long-term goals of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Read COFACE's New Deal for Families of Today here.

Past events
Social Platform: Flagship Conference "Building Social Europe", Helsinki, 16-18 September
This was the Social Platform’s second such conference and it was organised in cooperation with the Finnish Ministry for Social Affairs and Health. The conference was an official event held to coincide with the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and it took place back-to-back with the Presidency's High-level Conference on the Economy of Wellbeing. It provided the Social Platform's members, key players in a wider European social movement and academics with an opportunity to debate with national and EU level decision-makers on how the European Union can prevent further decay in social justice, democracy and trust in the EU. You can find more info here.

News from the EESC
Toward a Sustainable Europe by 2030, EESC, Brussels, 2 October
The conference will highlight the position taken by the EESC in its recent opinion on the Reflection Paper "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030", which was adopted in September. The event will provide concrete and constructive recommendations to the new European Commission and the new European Parliament. Registration and programme here.


The EU is (for) you: The role of civil society in communicating the EU, Malaga, 10-11 October
The European Economic and Social Committee's 13th Civil Society Media Seminar will look at the EU's achievements over the past sixty years and raise several fundamental questions. Read them here


European Bioeconomy: Regions, Cities and Civil Society, Brussels, 16 October
October 2019 will mark one year since the launch of the 2018 updated European Bioeconomy Strategy, which put forward an action plan to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy. To mark the occasion, this event will be held to take stock of progress and to find out what is planned for the next few years. Programme and registration here.

Past EESC events
Hearing: The new European rules on retail – between the free market and sustainability, Brussels, 26 September
The hearing was part of the EESC's follow-up work on its opinion on ''A European retail sector fit for the 21st century'', which was adopted last year. Its main objective was to discuss the effectiveness and efficiency of EU retail policies and to collect valuable input and feedback from Finnish stakeholders on the issue in order to find ways to improve these policies. Particular emphasis was placed on the recommendations presented in the EESC opinion with a view to their implementation at national level. More info.


Hearing: Civil society contribution to the next European Semester cycle, Brussels, 12 September
This public hearing brought together policy-makers, academics and civil society representatives at EU and national level for an exchange of view on policy proposals for the next European Semester cycle from a civil society perspective. The outcome of this public hearing will feed directly into the EESC opinion on the 2019 Annual Growth Survey and provide timely input for the Commission's work on the 2020 Annual Growth Survey.
More info
546th EESC Plenary Session, 25-26 September 2019
  • Presentation of the priorities of the European Parliament, with David Maria SASSOLI, President of the European Parliament
  • Presentation of the review of the activities of the European Ombudsman, with Emily O’REILLY, European Ombudsman
  • Debate on the Economic and Monetary Union and the European Semester, with Valdis DOMBROVSKIS, Vice-President of the European Commission, Tuomas SAARENHEIMO, Permanent Under-Secretary for International Affairs and Financial Markets at the Finnish Ministry of Finance, and others
  •  Adoption of the opinions on:
  • Basic connectivity after Brexit – validity period extension (TEN/703)
  • European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (CCMI/171)
  • Better Regulation/Taking stock (INT/886)
  • Digitalisation, AI and equity: How to strengthen the EU in the global race for future skills and education, while ensuring social inclusion (SOC/622)
  • International trade and tourism – A global agenda for sustainable development (REX/521)
  • Modification of the Solidarity Fund – No Deal Brexit (ECO/501)
  • The changing world of work and longevity and the ageing population: the preconditions for ageing workers to stay active in the new world of work (SOC/624)
  • Implementation of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration based on EU values (SOC/615)
  • Summary of the costs and benefits of Investments in occupational safety and health (OSH) (SOC/623)
  • The European Pillar of Social Rights – evaluation of the initial implementation and recommendations for the future (SOC/614)
  • More efficient decision-making in social policy: Identification of areas for an enhanced move to qualified majority voting (SOC/626)
  • Reflection Paper "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030" (NAT/760)
  • Developing synergies across different circular economy roadmaps (NAT/764)
  • New institutional framework for energy and climate policy by 2025 (TEN/694)
  • Guidance on the free flow of non-personal data (TEN/699)
  • 10 years of Eastern Partnership: reflecting on achievements and shaping the future policy of the EaP (REX/520)

    All the EESC opinions adopted can be consulted here.

Civil dialogue in the EU
FRA - the Fundamental Rights Platform for civil society
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights FRA works closely with civil society organisations active in the field of fundamental rights. The Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP) is FRA’s cooperation network with civil society organisations from across the EU. Registering gives you privileged access to FRA’s work planning efforts, data and expertise, as you will be consulted on the agency’s annual work programme, and invited to contribute to the annual report on fundamental rights in the EU. The platform also provides opportunities for organisations to connect with other entities sharing similar interests and challenges. Register here


Jean Monnet Prize for European Integration
This prize, awarded annually by, recognises and celebrates achievements that contribute to supporting and strengthening European integration. The Jean Monnet Prize for European Integration aims to honour Jean Monnet’s memory and life achievements. It does so by rewarding talented individuals or groups having contributed to supporting or strengthening European Integration through a project they have designed and implemented. More information and application here.


New European Citizens' Initiatives:

"Respect for the rule of law within the European Union "
The main objectives are to:
a) "provide the European Union with general legislation making it possible to verify in an objective manner the practical application of national provisions relating to the rule of law in order to strengthen mutual trust between the Member States and to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of Article 7 TEU concerning possible breaches of the Union’s values.
(b) facilitate the enforcement of European laws on judicial cooperation in criminal matters."
More here

"Save the bees! Protection of biodiversity and improvement of habitats for insects in Europe"

Main objectives:
To demonstrably improve the natural basis for life, we call for mandatory targets: to make the promotion of biodiversity an overall objective of the CAP; to dramatically cut the use of pesticides, ban harmful pesticides without exception and reform eligibility criteria; to promote structural diversity in agricultural landscapes; to effectively reduce nutrients (e.g. Natura 2000); to effectively establish conservation areas (e.g. WFD); to intensify research and monitoring and improve education.
More here.

"Grow scientific progress: crops matter!"
Main objectives:
To call for more legal clarity and further definitions.
To facilitate the authorisation procedure for those products obtained through NPBTs, which carry only natural existing traits. The aim is to improve scientific progress in the European Union while protecting human and animal health and the environment.
More here.

Let's end the era of plastics in Europe!
Main objectives:
To call on the European Commission to revise the Directive on the impact of certain plastics on the environment with a view to banning all single-use plastics in Europe.
To call for a ban on all plastic packaging and bottles by 2027, so that we can begin to put in place concrete measures to respect the limits of our resources.
More here.

Links to our members' newsletters

European Economic and Social Committee
Rue Belliard 99, 1040 Brussels