The EESC, as the body representing civil society at the EU level and a firm supporter and defender of the democratic right to vote, the right of free speech and the right of expression, followed closely the electoral campaign and the parliamentary elections that took place on Sunday, 30 August, in Montenegro.
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At its July plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the latest annual report issued by the European Commission on the implementation of free trade agreements (FTAs), covering 2018. The EESC outlines the key role of trade in "promoting a sustainable economic recovery and allowing companies to rebuild and re-organise their disrupted value chains". At the same time, it regrets that civil society's monitoring work remains "largely absent" from the implementation report.
Trade policy in exceptional times: this week's negotiation rounds on the updating of the trade aspect of the EU-Chile Association Agreement are being held remotely. In the run-up to this round, the EU-Chile Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) adopted a joint declaration on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. JCC members flagged up the danger of increased social inequality and supported bilateral and multilateral cooperation as the best way to tackle the crisis.
The partnership with Africa was clearly highlighted by the EU institutions as one of the main priorities for the coming years, but the COVID-19 pandemic might threaten closer cooperation. This was the topic of a webinar organised on 29 April by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), where participants agreed that consolidation of supply chains and an agreement to ease the external debt burden of African countries were key issues.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Serbia held the 10th meeting of their Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) in Brussels on 10 March, adopting a joint declaration by majority on 31 March. JCC members called on the EU institutions to take better account of civil society's role and to strengthen its involvement in monitoring Serbia's accession process and holding authorities to account.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has strongly supported the enlargement of the European Union to the six Western Balkans countries provided they fulfil all the necessary criteria for membership. In the aftermath of the Council's non-decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in October 2019, we have reacted swiftly by adopting, on 31 October, a Resolution expressing our profound disappointment by the lack of unanimity from the Member States. The EESC has since been committed to working closely and intensively with the civil society in the Western Balkans to support and reassure them that their place is in the European Union.
The 7th edition of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, which took place in Tirana on 16 and 17 April, concluded with a call for the next Commission to maintain the Western Balkans enlargement policy as one of its priorities in the interest of both the region and of the EU.
Civil society representatives from both the EU and Turkey called on Turkish authorities to undertake major reforms in the fields of rule of law and human rights as a prerequisite to resume accession negotiations with the EU. This was one of the main conclusions of the 38th meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) held in Brussels on 8 and 9 April, which also agreed on the important role of the JCC as an open channel for exchanges at civil society level.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted at its March plenary session an opinion on the Joint Communication "Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy", issued by the European Commission and the EU High Representative in September 2018. The EESC considers it to be a seriously missed opportunity, with many significant strategic gaps, little ambition and no real depth of vision offered as to the development of EU's relationship and connectivity with Asia.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted in its March plenary session on 20 March, an opinion proposing an EU-led global peace-building strategy which includes the creation of the WhiteDoveWay, a path of peace from Northern Ireland to Nicosia, to promote dialogue, reconciliation and conflict prevention following in the initial footsteps of the sixth century Irish pilgrim Columbanus.