The Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions aims at promoting greater understanding of the main issues affecting organised civil society in the Euromed region and at discussing the common challenges they face. The Summit brings together aound 120 participants from economic and social councils, or similar institutions, representatives of employers, trade unions, other economic and social interests groups and NGOs from countries which are members of the Union for the Mediterranean (UFM). This year, the exchange will focus on the following topics:
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Relations between the EU and its southern neighbours constitute one of our priorities. Our work covers a wide variety of areas, such as the participation of civil society in political and civil dialogue, democratic transition, youth employment, sustainable development, mobility and immigration, trade, renewable energy and business development.
The EESC has been working on these issues since 1995. Following changes in the region in 2010, we have adjusted our objectives accordingly, aiming to:
- Support civil society organisations in countries undergoing transition. Such support is targeted, in particular, at trade unions and employers’ organisations, as well as women’s, youth and farmers’ associations.
- Maintain bilateral relations with national economic and social councils in the region, and work towards creating conditions for the inclusion of civil society in political dialogue in the southern partner countries.
- Issue opinions and joint reports on the key policy challenges facing the region.
- Hold regular meetings with European institutions and international organisations to discuss the policies concerning civil society across the region.
- Organise an annual summit for economic and social councils and similar institutions, at which key policy recommendations on the region’s main challenges are put to policy-makers from national governments and the EU.
Civil society has everything to win from free and vibrant media.Not only does the latter support and foster civil society but it can also help to hold the authorities to account, to put civil society’s ideas and principles into action and inﬂuence the social change.
Welcome to this Medina Session on 'Integrating Civil Society in policy-making'. This session has been organised by the European Economic and Social Committee, but as you can see it also involves many notable guest speakers from a variety of civil society organisations who will share their experiences with us.….I shall not name you all because I think it is important we move to the discussion but you shall all have the opportunity to take the floor.