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The general objective of the new edition of the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme will be to "strengthen remembrance and enhance capacity for civic participation at the Union level". The opinion, while strongly agreeing with this objective, sets out recommendations and specific changes that will allow the programme to be improved by bringing it still closer to citizens and better meeting their needs.
The EESC welcomes the special attention devoted to drawing up a European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), in order to support cohesion and competitiveness in the light of challenges that cannot be satisfactorily resolved by single regions or countries through the usual means. The EESC believes that EUSAIR must adopt a comprehensive programme with an action-oriented list of projects and schemes, and strongly recommends that better use be made of the private sector's potential to attract investment (both local and international) and to create business opportunities. Simultaneously, the strategy should include a stronger social dimension, in order to better support inclusive growth in the Adriatic and Ionian region.
The Commission's communication sets out a strategy for the implementation of the charter in the new legal environment created by the Lisbon Treaty. The charter must serve as a compass for the Union's policies and their implementation by the Member States. The EESC finds that the Commission should strengthen the culture of fundamental rights at all government levels and across all policy and legislative domains level. It is as well urgent to establish a strategy for monitoring and for rapid reaction.
In this own-initiative opinion the EESC calls on the European institutions to promote a positive image of CSOs, preserve their independence and strengthen their capacity for action.
Beside a detailed diagnosis of the situation and role of civil society organisations, the EESC presents 26 recommendations for better civil dialogue and access to resources, including ideas for the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.
The EESC finds that financing of CSOs is essential for participatory democracy and that the article 11 of the TEU on structured dialogue with civil society must be properly implemented. It calls also for the establishment of an EU Ombudsman on civic space freedoms and of a European fund for democracy, human rights and values within the EU.