More than a hundred civil society representatives from Union for the Mediterranean member countries met on 13 and 14 December in Madrid, Spain, to discuss the challenges facing the region. The 2017 Euromed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions focused on economic, social and cultural rights, social protection and a new generation of women's rights in the Mediterranean region.
- The situation in the Euromed region
The participants unanimously adopted a final declaration which condemns all forms of violence and terrorism and the infringement of fundamental rights in the Mediterranean region. It also urges the EU institutions to design an efficient and flexible mechanism to ensure the safe and legal arrival of refugees, whose human rights are being violated on a daily basis. The international community should recognise the important role and the difficulties which countries in North Africa and the Middle East face by hosting refugees in disproportionate numbers and should give them more support. Meeting participants also expressed their serious concern at the recent marginalisation of civil society organisations and violence towards their staff and called on all governments to guarantee freedoms of expression, association, collective bargaining and peaceful demonstration.
- Economic, social and cultural rights
The participants underlined the paramount importance of economic, labour and social rights for economic development and democratic governance in the region and called on governments to dialogue with civil society organisations to further strengthen these rights. They also stressed the need for affordable and good quality education to advance socio-economic development in the Mediterranean and the key role of non-formal education and training in building more inclusive societies.
- A new generation of women's rights
Organised civil society urged all countries in the Mediterranean region to enshrine women's rights and gender equality in their constitutions and to develop the necessary institutions to protect women from all gender-based violence and discrimination.
- A social protection floor in the Euro Mediterranean Area
Civil society urged the Euromed labour ministers to put the topic of basic levels of social protection on the agenda of their next Ministerial Conference on Employment. The final declaration highlighted the fact that improving social protection in the Mediterranean area requires an improvement in the quality of jobs and specific employment policies for the most vulnerable groups, such as young people and women.