This conference is part of the EESC's efforts to bring the Europe 2020 flagship initiative on the "Digital Agenda for Europe" to a civil society audience in the Member States. The objective of the event is to focus attention at national level on the Digital Agenda and its importance for economic growth, job creation and social inclusion..
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The EESC's engagement with civil society organisations in Russia is governed by the five guiding principles for EU-Russia relations agreed between EU foreign ministers and the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. One of these guiding principles is "support for people-to-people contacts".
Dialogue and the exchange of experiences between civil society representatives from the EU and Russia contribute in a significant way to the continued implementation of the EU-Russia Strategic Partnership. The EESC has adopted a two-stranded approach to its relations with Russian civil society in order to engage with as wide a range of civil society representatives as possible. On the one hand, it maintains relations with the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, its official Russian counterpart, and organises – amongst other things – annual joint seminars on topics of interest to civil society on both sides. The EESC's other partner is the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, which brings together a different set of civil society organisations.
The EU-Russia Follow-up Committee is an internal EESC body, which acts as a steering group, and is responsible for developing and maintaining relations and organising meetings and joint seminars with civil society in Russia.
On the 14 November 2014, the Employers' Group of the EESC will be organizing a seminar in Zagreb jointly with the Croatian Employers organizations HUP (Croatian Employers 'Association), HGK (Croatian Chamber of Economy) and HOK (Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts) entitled : "Securing Essential Imports for the EU Energy: New opportunities - or new threats?". This keynote conference, which will be attended by many of our Members together with Government representatives and a number of local businessmen, aims to examine the depth of EU dependence on imports of energy and to look at alternative possibilities for supply of predictable and secure sources of energy.
The hearing is held within the framework of the preparation of an own-initiative opinion entitled: "The digital growth pillar: e-seniors, a potential 25% of the European population."
The Civil Society Forum is an annual general assembly of civil society from the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine). The Forum was created in November 2009 following the launching of the Eastern Partnership Initiative. The European Economic and Social Committee is a member of this Forum since its creation. The fifth meeting of the EaP CSF will take place on 4-5 October 2013 in Chisinau (Moldova).
On 13 November, the European Economic and Social Committee, the EU institution representing organized civil society, brought together representatives from EU institutions and Ukrainian civil society in a seminar in Kyiv with the aim to explain the practical implications of the Association Agreement to a wide audience of civil society organisations. Representatives from the EESC, the European External Action Service, the Committee of the Regions, the Support Group for Ukraine and the EU Delegation to Ukraine, as well as their Ukrainian counterparts presented this matter from different perspectives.
Some conclusions were shared by all parties:
- the fact that there was a momentum for reforms in Ukraine right now and that Ukraine should not and could not wait longer;
On 13 April 2015, the EESC held a hearing to gather information and views on the role of non-formal and informal learning as a means to enhance employability and mobility. Furthermore, it examined how employers, trade unions and civil society organisations could be more involved in the validation process.
In March 2014 the 1st meeting of the EU-Africa economic and social interest groups network took place in Brussels. Following negotiations with the EESC, this meeting was funded by the Commission's DG DEVCO with the main objective of introducing an 'organised civil society pillar' into the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). The network was kicked off just in time to offer input to the Africa-EU Summit of April 2014.
The EESC has an interest to keep this network alive in order to contribute and follow up into the JAES from the perspective of organised civil society. Politically the best timing for organising meetings of this network is ahead of relevant summits between EU and African heads of state and/or government.
The Dutch Presidency has requested an exploratory opinion about the shift from the traditional employment relationship to more non-standard forms of employment, introduced among others by online platforms like Uber. The EESC is to examine the link between new forms of employments relationships to a decent living wage and make policy recommendations as to how to take full advantage of digital innovation but regulate and mitigate the effects in terms of labour law protection and social protection.
The European Council of December 2012 agreed that the roadmap for the completion of the European Monetary Union (EMU) should include a social dimension, comprising social dialogue. President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy called for the EESC proposals on the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union. To assemble the views of institutional stakeholders, social partners and civil society organisations, the EESC is holding a hearing on "For a social dimension of the EMU".
Important items on the agenda of this year's summit have been youth and employment in the Mediterranean region; managing water-related challenges; mobility and immigration, and the UfM's ties to civil society. This event has been organised jointly with the UfM Secretariat.