On 26 September, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) approved an own-initiative opinion to mark the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). In this opinion, the EESC acknowledges the important achievements of this initiative, but also calls for further reforms in the areas of democratisation and fundamental freedoms. The opinion insists on the need to strengthen the role of civil society and to provide credible EU membership prospects to EaP states.
The EESC's activities concerning Eastern Neighbours involve Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The main objective of the EESC with regard to the European Eastern Neighbours is to enhance relations with civil society organisations in the region and to involve them in a dialogue with both their national policy makers and the EU organised civil society.
The main cooperation mechanisms with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are the Civil Society Platforms (tag to all three) which complement the political bodies existing within the framework of the EU Association Agreements with these countries. The Platforms allow civil society organisations from both the EU and the partner country side to monitor the implementation process and prepare their recommendations to the relevant authorities.
On the EU side, these Platforms comprise members of the EESC as well as representatives from large European civil society networks. On the partner country side, they represent a broad spectrum of civil society organizations. The membership of the Platforms is based on balanced representation of all interest groups (employers' organizations, trade unions and various interests' groups).
Within the EESC, the Eastern Neighbours Follow-up Committee was established in 2004 as a dedicated body responsible for relations with civil society in the Eastern Neighbourhood countries. The Follow-up Committee usually meets four times a year and its members take active part in the Eastern Partnership activities such as EaP multilateral platforms and the EaP Civil Society Forum.
The 3rd meeting of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform (CSP) held in Kyiv on 8-9 November focused on labour market regulation and antidiscrimination legislation and practices in Ukraine, as well as reviewed the progress of the reforms undertaken within the Association Agreement process. The civil society organisations of the EU and Ukraine strongly called for the EU Member States to push, with all necessary political and economic means, for the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, establishing peace and solving the humanitarian problems of the residents of these and adjoining territories. Opening the meeting, Alfredas Jonuška ...