The agro-food supply chain connects important and diverse sectors of the European economy that are essential for economic, social and environmental welfare as well as for the health of European citizens. Over recent years, there has been a shift in bargaining power in the supply chain, mostly to the advantage of the retail sector and to the detriment of primary producers. The position of the most vulnerable actors, such as farmers, should therefore be addressed, in particular by ensuring that prices that allow the farmer to make a fair profit are paid throughout the agro-food supply chain and by putting an end to unfair trading practices.
How can culture and cities help build hope and a new narrative for Europe? What value should we attribute to Culture? How does Culture drive economic growth? How should Europe trace the line between the past and the present, in order to ensure a sustainable, democratic and inclusive future? How can cities transform cultural diversity into social innovation, cohesion and trust?
These are some of the questions which were explored at the high-level conference organised by the Various Interests Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels, on 20 and 21 June 2016.
The employers' Group believes that a paradigm shift in the form of the digital transformation is sweeping across Europe and that it will affect industry, business and citizens alike. The EESC Employers' Group, in close cooperation with the Cambridge Network, has agreed to hold a seminar in Cambridge to exchange views on Innovation and Industry, and on the merits of business, industry and academia working together in Europe to prepare for the new post-industrial society. Cambridge was chosen as the venue for this event because of the overwhelming presence of high standard research and education; Cambridge is thus a real European – even global centre of excellence.
This year's joint meetings between the EU and Central America under the Trade and Sustainable Development Title of the Association Agreement commenced with a workshop on market access. The participants discussed opportunities provided by the Agreement and challenges faced by the economic operators, in particular SMEs. Separate sessions focused on fair trade and value chains as ways facilitating market access for SMEs and small producers. On 16 June, the representatives of the EU and Central American Advisory Groups exchanged experience in their up-to-date operation and discussed proposals for strengthening capacity of the civil society monitoring mechanism, the role of the Parties in this context and future cooperation. This was followed by Civil Society Dialogue Forum where civil society representatives from the EU and Central America asked questions and expressed positions with regard to implementation of the Association Agreement and its impacts.
The first and inaugural meeting of the EU-Georgia Civil Society Platform (CSP) was held on 16 June 2016 in Tbilisi. The CSP complements the political bodies existing within the framework of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, and it allows civil society organisations from both sides to monitor the implementation process and prepare recommendations to the relevant authorities both in Georgia as well as in the European Union.
The CSP is made up of EESC members and representatives from large European civil society networks, on the one side, and representatives from Georgian civil society organisations, on the other side.
The European Migration Forum – the dialogue platform on migration, asylum and migrant integration - met for the second time in April 2016 to discuss the long-term approach to migration and integration.
The EESC Permanent study group on Immigration and Integration (IMI) organises a follow-up event to look back at that meeting and discuss further steps in the integration policy.
The event is accessible to all organisations, with priority to those who participated in the Forum. It will be also webstreamed.
The functional economy focuses on the use of a product rather than its ownership. Specifically, with the functional economy model, a company sells the right to use a product of which it maintains ownership. The famous example is Michelin, which no longer sells tires for fleets of company cars, but supplies "mobility services" consisting of repairing, retreading and in some cases exchanging tires. The economic outcome is that the company has an interest in making its products last as long as possible because the price is based on usage (in this case, the number of kilometres driven) and thus in reducing waste.
This years' meeting outside of Brussels was held on 2 June 2016 in the Delegation of the European Union in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and included a hearing with the civil society organisations (CSOs).
The goal of this hearing was for our Western Balkans Follow-up Committee to listen to the views on the role of civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to convey these messages to the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the political authorities of the EU. The following topics were discussed at the hearing: social dialogue and civil dialogue, the state of the economy and the labour market, the participation of civil society organisations in the EU's enlargement process and in the implementation of the Reform Agenda 2015 – 2018, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This hearing is a step towards the 6th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum to be held in 2017.
On 2 June 2016 the SDO will hold its meeting in Brussels. This date falls during the European Sustainable Development Week and as a partner of that week, the SDO organises the screening of the movie "Demain" in the context of its meeting.
The EESC's Sustainable Development Observatory is happy to team up with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and host the 20th Breakfast @ Sustainability's in the broader framework of the European Sustainable Development Week. The discussions will focus on What SDGs actually mean for local communities and how citizens and grassroots initiatives can help implement them.