On Thursday 21 April, the EESC's Various Interests Group has held an extraordinary meeting at the Dutch Economic and Social Council (Sociaal-Economische Raad/SER) in The Hague. The conference was entitled From agricultural to food policy – Towards healthy and sustainable production and consumption.
The ECI DAY serves as a meeting place and platform for the registered and future ECI organisers to meet and exchange information and experiences, and present their ECIs to the media.
The 2016 edition will focus on the ways of dealing with the identified difficulties, also to emphasize why the simplification of the rules is indispensable. The organisers will find out more about the help available, about what instruments are out there to maximize the impact of their initiatives. Finally, a broader context of participatory democracy in the EU will be drawn with information on the existing tools.
The consequences of the financial and economic crisis has triggered considerable changes in the ways in which services of general interest (SGIs) are provided and financed, incentivising providers to explore new modes and mechanisms to keep delivering affordable services without impacting the quality of services. Overall, an increased involvement of private players in the provision of SGIs through outsourcing and public-private partnerships (PPPs) has happened, driven by efficiency and budgetary concerns. On the financing side, there have been significant budget cuts, particularly in sectors such as education and healthcare, while new investments are needed. This has raised questions on the use of new financing modes, such as project financing and the use of new financial instruments.
The Consultative Committee (CC) is one of the 5 institutions foreseen in the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement. The CC is composed of 40 (25 from the CARIFORM side and 15 from the EU side) standing representatives of organisations of the civil society representing employers' organisations, trade unions, other economic, social and non-governmental organisations, including development and environmental organisations; and the academic community.
The Labour Market Observatory (LMO) addressed the topic of labour migration in its 42nd meeting which took place on 18 April 2016. Discussions focused on the outcomes of the European Migration Forum of 6-7 April 2016 and on Commission's and EESC's work on legal migration, including the revision of the Blue Card Directive. The discussions were very useful in the context of the preparation of the SOC/539 opinion on a Coherent labour migration.
The European Commission made a proposal for a directive on a European Accessibility Act, which will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services, and will help people with disabilities at EU level to participate fully in society.
The EESC is currently preparing an opinion on the Commission's proposal . On 13 April 2016, the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) will hold a public hearing in conjunction with the work on this opinion.
The conclusions of the hearing will feed directly into the work of the drafting group which will hold its second meeting in the afternoon of the same day.
The Raw Materials Initiative and the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials are key policies that may contribute decisively to maintaining the competitiveness and sustainability of European industry and, consequently, the maintenance or creation of new jobs.
During the meeting, the EU DAG had an opportunity to discuss with Mr. Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title and work of the civil society monitoring mechanism in the framework of the EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement. Moreover, the representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented information about the EU relations and cooperation with Colombia and Peru. Based on the Second Annual Report, the Commission representative provided information about the implementation of the Trade Agreement, changes in trade flows and work of joint bodies. He also informed about the procedures and timeline related to Ecuador's accession to the Agreement.
The European Migration Forum – the civil society dialogue platform on migration, asylum and migrant integration – met for the second time on 6 and 7 April 2016 at the EESC's headquarters.
Following on from the subject discussed at the first meeting (the management of mixed flows of migrants across the Mediterranean), the Forum now focused on the long-term approach to migration and integration.
Attendance at the Forum meetings was by invitation only. The plenary parts of the meeting were streamed.
Ahead of the international Roma Day on 8 April, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will hold a hearing on "Anti-gypsyism, possible responses", which will feed into the work of the EESC permanent study group on Roma inclusion monitoring the implementation the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.
Anti-gypsyism is an important barrier to the effective implementation of the framework and national integration strategies, and the hearing wants to shed light on possible responses to this cross-cutting problem. The European refugee crisis acerbates problems with general racism, xenophobia which also affects Roma. A hearing on anti-gypsyism and other forms of racism and xenophobia will allow exchanging best practices on how to combat these phenomena.