Co-hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, the 3rd Southern Neighbourhood Civil Society Forum took place in Brussels on 26 – 27 May 2016. The Forum is another effort of the EU to deepen its engagement with civil society and is part of a larger initiative launched by the Commission in 2013 (EEAS and DG Near) to create a mechanism for sustained dialogue between civil society, the EU and authorities in the Middle East and North Africa region. The main topics of this year's Forum were migration and mobility, shrinking space for civil society and reducing inequalities.
The President of EESC, Georges Dassis addressed the participants in his opening speech in the presence of Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. Initially, Mr. Dassis mentioned the issues that countries in the Southern Neighbourhood are facing such as the migration, the refugee crisis, the freedom of expression and in general the socio-economic developments in the region. Then, he stressed that the EESC will continue to work with the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EEAS.
In conclusion he highlighted the importance to include all the stakeholders (non-governmental organizations, employers' organizations and trade unions, socio-economic organizations) to the social dialogue in order to find solutions to the above mentioned problems, providing their great expertise to these issues.