“Open societies need open borders” was for a long time our driving conviction as civil society and human rights activists. The death toll from last weekend alone stands at about 175, all of whom died in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to reach Europe while placing their lives in the hands of human traffickers. We have known this for a decade and yet the debate continues as to whether humanitarian corridors can be set up or whether we should accommodate regular migration within a legal framework...
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You know how much I feel honoured to become, as the new President of the EESC, also the new co-chair of the Liaison Group, this unique body that works relentlessly to strengthen the structured cooperation between European civil society organisations and EU institutions within the EESC.
Over the years, I have always been a big defender of the role of civil society as I believe they are at the heart of any democratic system, they are the agents of change in our societies.
Two weeks ago I had the honour of opening – once again and sadly for the last time, since my mandate as president of the EESC and thus as co-chair of the Liaison Group expires this month – the ECI Day on our premises. This year's theme, Working Together, was aimed at highlighting the value of cooperation and shared responsibility in promoting active citizenship. Working together means concertation, dialogue and joint action.
Last year, the presentation of president Juncker's White Paper on the future of Europe launched a major political debate on what kind of Europe we want to have, what we expect from Europe and how we see cooperation between Member States. Civil society has actively participated in these dialogues demanding a more social Europe that meets the needs of citizens in terms of decent employment, solidarity and growth.
Progressing democracy or progress in democracy?
In an era of real and fake news and so-called social networks, digital transformation and the digital revolution are infiltrating nearly every part of our lives.This affects far more than just the future of employment and industrial relations; it will determine the way that society as a whole operates. We are well aware that there is no way of stopping these developments.
Dear friends, I am very pleased that the heads of state and government at the recent Social Summit in Gothenburg adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights, which aims to give citizens new and more effective rights. There are three main elements to the Pillar:
• equal opportunities and access to the labour market,
• fair working conditions,
• and social protection and inclusion.
Adoption is ...
Reloading or revisiting
When at the beginning of the year the EPP MEP Markus Pieper launched the first initiative to question the transparency of NGOs in the EP's Budgetary Control Committee, the first reaction was the usual justification of our "raison d’être" and rejection of the suspicious undertone. For so many years many of us have tirelessly defended the idea that civil society has a crucial role to play in the European project and serves as a bridge builder between the European institutions and the citizens they organise.
Working towards a Europe of peace, solidarity and prosperity
- Civil Society Days 2017
- Civil Society Prize 2017
- European Citizenship Awards