Given the EESC specific expertise, the EESC's opinion is particularly sought on the role of the private sector –taking into account its diversity from SMEs to multinational companies- in fostering smart and sustainable economic growth and creating jobs, as well as investing in training, education, research and innovation, key enabling technologies such as information and communication technologies (ICT). Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, Public-Private Partnerships, joint innovation and inclusive business models could also be issues to be investigated. Possible mechanisms, processes allowing the involvement of the "private sector" in a global partnership for development in a post 2015 framework would also be of interest.
ACP and Africa
From the first Lomé Convention (1975) to the Cotonou agreement (2000-2021), EU-ACP Parterships have governed the relations between the EU and 79 countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), which recently became the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).
Throughout this period the EESC, together with ACP civil society, fought for recognition of the essential role played by non-state operators in the development process until this was achieved in the Cotonou Agreement, which mandated the EESC to organise activities and consultations with "ACP-EU economic and social interest groups" in order to gather the views of, and give voice to the organised civil society. The aim has been to foster exchanges and provide recommendations on issues and policies relevant to ACP-EU relations, later officially addressed to the EU and ACP leaders.
In practical terms, the EESC's activities concerning EU-OACPS relations are mainly carried out under the guidance of an inclusive ACP-EU Follow-up Committee made of EESC members and delegates representing ACP economic and social interest groups.
The ACP-EU Follow-up Committee maintains regular contacts with the representatives of civil society in the ACP countries at different levels, through:
- Regular meetings of the ACP-EU Follow-Up Committee,
- Regional Seminars in ACP countries, providing a forum for discussing topics of common interest with civil society representatives in alternating regions,
- Triennial General Meetings of ACP-EU economic and social interest groups in Brussels.
The EESC also maintains regular contacts with the African Union's representatives of economic and social interest groups, in the framework of the Joint EU-Africa strategy. In particular, the EESC holds annual meetings with the Africa-EU Economic and Social Stakeholder's network.
The EESC has for many years kept up regular contact with the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, presenting a report on its activities at sessions of the Plenary Assembly.
The EESC is likewise in close contact with international employers', workers', farmers', cooperatives' and consumers' organisations. These organisations nominate the ACP representatives invited to the meetings held by the EESC, including the ACP-EU Follow-up Committee.
The opinion of the EESC should consider different options and scenarios for post-2015 and develop proposals on how to involve civil society more extensively in the process.
In this opinion, the EESC will aim to adopt a stance on the role of social protection in development policy. This is likely to be one of the main topics in the debate about the new goals of development policy which are to replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015.
The EESC considers that the EU's underlying objectives for the renewed EU-Pacific development Partnership are ambitious, but believes that the implementing arrangements, which mainly concern environmental protection and biodiversity conservation in the region, are not clear. Synergies are needed with other organisations to address the impact of climate change, which has a cross-cutting impact on national and multilateral policies as well as social and economic repercussions. Issues associated with the impact of climate change should be incorporated in the area's comprehensive environmental policies and ensure coherent behaviour and actions. To this end, the active involvement of all local stakeholders is necessary.
EU support for good governance and human rights (pillar of the agenda for change) should be aimed at promoting a human rights-based approach to development whose features are: participation in political processes, democratic ownership and empowerment of rights holders; human rights compliance systems on internationally agreed commitments; policy coherence between human rights, aid, and economic policies.
On 22 November, participants in the 17th regional seminar of ACP-EU economic and social interest groups adopted a declaration highlighting the potential of the blue economy as a key factor for development in many eastern and southern African countries. The event, hosted by the EESC in Mauritius, was also an opportunity for civil society representatives to call for a greater role for civil society in the negotiation of Economic Partnership Agreements and bilateral Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) and to acknowledge the role played by African and EU economic and social groups in the development of infrastructure.