Speech by President Luca JAHIER at the 'Euopean Civil Society Day 2014' at the EESC on Tuesday 18 March 2014
Social Media have clearly altered the nature of civil society and also have an impact on democratic and political engagement, particularly among civil society organisations.
The organisation of the annual ECI Day - which I hope will remain a landmark in years to come with more and more partners on board - is also clear proof of our commitment to initiate dialogue on this tool. Last year's event was only a small seminar to celebrate the launch of the ECI process, but it attracted many people.
We have also supported the ECI process by hosting technical working groups on the online signature collection software, bringing together IT experts and ECI organisers to see what can be improved on (participants will hear about the ongoing work during the afternoon's panel).
This book argues that civil society, by which we mean associations, interest groups and the employers’and union organisations, is an essential pillar of democracy. During meetings with representatives of organised civil society, the writer has gathered a series of examples of how they have made their voices heard in the EU.
This report examines the extent to which European citizens engage in participatory
democracy, and the extent to which they believe that political decision-making can be
influenced through their own actions and through those of civil society organisations.
The EESC believes that there is much more to European citizenship, and that a political system such as the EU must cultivate and strengthen the political, social and cultural dimensions of the Union. If we want people to feel truly connected to Europe, we need to develop their ability to exercise political power ("power" in the sense of participation in governance). We can develop that ability by providing knowledge about the political system and using mechanisms that allow for participation from the bottom up.
We were all happy when the European Commission designated 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. Citizens play a central role in Europe’s future and integration. What could be more appropriate and timely to dedicate a European Year to them?
This conference is very timely; demographic trends pose major challenges to the labour market. It suffers from structural problems. Young people, in particular, find it difficult to gain a footing in the labour market, despite skills they have. It is not only the case in Europe. It is also a major problem in Tunisia, where the demographic trend is the opposite: it is a very young population with high skills and no jobs.
On the eve of the European Summit on 23 May, the President of the European Economic and Social Committee once again calls for leadership, clarity and resolve in order to ensure the future development of the European Union.