Mediterranean Civil Society dialogue - a bridge towards solidarity
Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet – role model for civil society dialogue
20 years after the pledge of Barcelona was taken to promote the peace, stability and security of the region, it is time for the states from the Euro-Mediterranean region to put this pledge into practice.
This was one of the main messages of the yearly Euromed summit of economic and social councils and similar institutions, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels. The participants adopted a common declaration, on the situation in the Euromed region, the new European Neighbourhood Policy, the role of the ESCs and economic and social actors in the development of the region, the response to refugee and migration flows and specific future actions toward stability, cooperation and prosperity.
"The stabilisation of the region and its security has to go hand-in-hand with its economic and social development. Human safety must be at the core of all decisions", said Georges Dassis, EESC President in his introductory statement.
"The common challenges that face all of us will not be addressed by national solutions. We also need a regional approach", declared Delphine Borione, Deputy Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, mentioning that about 30% of the region's youth are unemployed.
The topic of migration was at the heart of the Summit and the participants underlined the need for the EU and its Member States to increase legal and safe pathways for refugees and migrants and to provide further support to countries hosting millions of refugees in the South of the Mediterranean.
The participants urged the governments of all the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region to develop policies aiming at integrating migrants in their societies with equal rights and at combating intolerance, racism and xenophobia towards immigrants.
The 20th Euromed Summit marked twenty years since the launch of the Barcelona Process, which promotes a multilateral cooperation forum for dialogue on a number of issues: political, security, economic, financial, social and cultural. Underlining the pressing need for progress across all these issues, the participants discussed the future new European Neighbourhood Policy, how it concretely needs to adapt to the current realities.
The Summit's 120 participants ask for the revised European Neighbourhood Policy to clearly aim at a real dialogue where representative civil society organisations, public authorities and regions are effectively consulted on the policies that will decide their countries relations with the EU. They expect an ENP which empowers civil society in all the countries, rewards human rights implementation, offers better education and opportunities to young people and women and which aims at a sustainable and inclusive development.
The declaration underlines the key role of the economic and social councils and actors in the consolidation of political democracy and in participative democracy. For this, they need to be regularly consulted and their proposals and recommendations incorporated into policy decision-making processes. In this respect, the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, which has been awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize should be a role model on the participation of civil society in the political dialogue.