This report follows the conclusion of the 2015 Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions on cooperation with third countries in promoting regular migration to the EU and will be presented at the 2016 Euromed Summit. Cooperation with countries of origin and international bodies to increase transit possibilities for regular migrants to the EU is the most effective way of combating the illicit trafficking of people and meeting the need for workers in EU countries. The aim of the information report is to define the pillars that can facilitate cooperation on regular migration and ascertain what experience has been gained from labour migration agreements with countries of origin and from the ways in which the Member States manage recruitment abroad.
Relations between the EU and its southern neighbours constitute one of our priorities. Our work covers a wide variety of areas, such as the participation of civil society in political and civil dialogue, democratic transition, youth employment, sustainable development, mobility and immigration, trade, renewable energy and business development.
The EESC has been working on these issues since 1995. Following changes in the region in 2010, we have adjusted our objectives accordingly, aiming to:
- Support civil society organisations in countries undergoing transition. Such support is targeted, in particular, at trade unions and employers’ organisations, as well as women’s, youth and farmers’ associations.
- Maintain bilateral relations with national economic and social councils in the region, and work towards creating conditions for the inclusion of civil society in political dialogue in the southern partner countries.
- Issue opinions and joint reports on the key policy challenges facing the region.
- Hold regular meetings with European institutions and international organisations to discuss the policies concerning civil society across the region.
- Organise an annual summit for economic and social councils and similar institutions, at which key policy recommendations on the region’s main challenges are put to policy-makers from national governments and the EU.
At the 2018 Euromed Summit, it was agreed that the next Information Report to be presented to the 2019 Summit of ESCs and Similar institutions will deal with the topic of the impact of digitalisation on SMEs in the Mediterranean area.
The integration of millions of young graduates into the job market each year constitutes a major challenge for the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) play a decisive role in the fight against youth unemployment as they are important drivers of job creation and provide 80% of employment in the region.
The opinion will set out civil society's perspective on the dual challenge which EU Member States face in dealing with recent waves of immigrants and at the same time fulfilling - or in some cases failing to fulfil - their duty in guaranteeing immigrants' human rights, be it in detention or whilst on high seas. This issue is particularly topical since the European Commission and European Court of Justice are coming increasingly under pressure to act against Member States that fail to meet EU rules.
The exploratory opinion is being drawn up at the request of the Greek Presidency of the European Union. Immigration-related issues remain a key challenge for the European Union and its Member States with a comprehensive and common strategy at EU level remaining elusive, in spite of the continued pressures that are being felt on the EU's borders.