The social economy is prominent in everyday life and in the productive activity of large regions of the world and makes a decisive contribution to improving the living and working conditions of millions of people. However, the social economy is not specifically recognised as a sector in the EU development cooperation programmes.One of the principal aims of the opinion is that the external dimension of the EU’s programmes and initiatives should establish support measures specifically targeted at boosting businesses and organisations in the social economy.
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Since the 1970s, the EESC has been organising regular meetings with economic and social interest groups from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). These meetings provide an opportunity to draft recommendations on issues relevant to ACP-EU relations.
The Cotonou Agreement will govern relations between the EU and 78 ACP countries until 2020; it recognises the essential role played by non-state operators in the development process. This Agreement allows the EESC to organise meetings and consultation with ACP-EU economic and social interest groups.
The EESC 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, composed of EESC members and representatives of ACP economic and social interest groups,
- 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 Economic, Social and Cultural Council.
The EESC has for many years kept up regular contacts with the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly by presenting a report on its activities at the Assembly's sessions.
The EESC is likewise in close contact with international employers', workers', farmers' 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 EESC organises regional seminars every year in an ACP region –this year, in Eastern Africa (Nairobi) on 4‑5 July 2016, with three main topics of discussion:
- Implementation of the SDGs - The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Eastern African States. - The post-Cotonou agenda.
At the end of the seminar, a final declaration will be issued that will be forwarded to the partners of the Cotonou agreement.
Around 60 representatives of economic and social actors as well as political authorities and international organisations will attend the seminar.
The Consultative Committee (CC) is one of the 5 institutions foreseen in the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement. The CC is composed of 40 (25 from the CARIFORM side and 15 from the EU side) standing representatives of organisations of the civil society representing employers' organisations, trade unions, other economic, social and non-governmental organisations, including development and environmental organisations; and the academic community.