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The successful integration of third-country nationals into the European Union's labour markets should be seen as a real opportunity for society as a whole, and the measures taken in this regard could be used to create better opportunities for all citizens and especially for other disadvantaged groups such as minorities and the long-term unemployed, revealed a conference held this month at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).


The EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform (CSP) held its 5th meeting in Kyiv on 15 November. In its final declaration, the members welcomed the full entry into force of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement as of September 2017, and called upon the EU and the Ukrainian government to ensure its complete and timely implementation.


The Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU would work for a stable, secure and solidarity-based Europe. Each measure would be guided by the principle of unity and solidarity amongst Member States, said the Bulgarian Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Biser Petkov, during a debate in Sofia with members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The discussion focused on the priorities of the future Bulgarian presidency. There would be three main overarching themes of the presidency: consensus, competitiveness and cohesion, added Mr Petkov.


2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH), and the European Economic and Social Committee will invite pupils from all over Europe to Brussels in order to get their opinion on the best way to engage European youth in the protection and promotion of our common cultural heritage. The Committee is also interested in the pupils’ fresh views on the relationship between culture, democracy and peace.
The EESC, as the voice of civil society, is eager to ensure that the ideas of Europe’s younger generation are heard.


EESC calls for a reference framework to safeguard soil health and fertility, an important element of our livelihood. Maintaining or improving the health of Europe's soils is one of the most important challenges in preserving our livelihood. We need to be aware of the quality of our soil in order to react in time. As a first step towards better and sustainable management of the EU's soil, the EESC proposes a joint EU reference framework with a view to lay down uniform terminology and harmonised criteria for good soil status.


At one among remarkably few such events, the EESC provided an occasion for civil society organisations to share their views on the agreement in principle for an Economic Partnership between the EU and Japan, reached in July 2017.