This opinion is the EESC's key response to the events in the Euromed region. It provides a thorough analysis of the EU's past failings and the lessons which need to be drawn from them, the most urgent needs facing civil society in the current transition phase, and the longer term perspectives for civil society in the region. The opinion also responds to the two joint communications issued by the European Commission and EEAS on the EU's new Euromed policy, calling for close cooperation between the EU institutions in the region
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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.
The aim of the opinion is to call on the representatives of the European Community institutions and national government to take account of the key role of the social partners and organised civil society in providing European immigration policies with a social dimension and added value.
The information report will seek to take a holistic approach to situation of young people in the north and south of the region, looking not just at the employment market but at wider trends amongst young people also outside of work, their self-perception, their political and social outlook on the future, their living arrangements, their view of their parents' generation and other older generations, as well as their view of the region and its role in a globalised world.
The situation concerning economic, social and cultural rights is quite patchy in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Although some countries, in the wake of what has been called the Arab spring, drew up new constitutions enshrining some of these rights in legislation for the very first time, the rights have not always been respected. In certain other countries, these rights have been weakened since 2011.The aim of this information report would be to give an overview of the current situation as regards economic, social and cultural rights in the Euro-Mediterranean region, as well as pinpointing new avenues for work in the future. This report would be submitted at the Euromed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and would enable us to work together with our counterparts from the Mediterranean countries.
The Information report will explore the model and its success factors, and will provide recommendations for promoting its use in EU financial instruments supporting democracy and Human Rights, as well as for the EESC's structural relations with organised civil society in other countries in the region.
"The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) expresses its solidarity with the people of the southern Mediterranean countries who are peacefully struggling for their fundamental rights and freedoms, and supports their legitimate aim of establishing stable democracies in their countries. ..."
The Neighbourhood policy is high on the agenda of the EESC's external relations priorities. This opinion will provide the contribution of the Committee to this consultation process as a first step, to be followed by a reaction to the Commission document that will be issued in the 2nd semester of 2015.
The EESC regularly produces information reports to be presented at the yearly Euromed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar institutions. In 2018, based on feedback from the previous summit, the Euromed Follow-Up Committee decided to focus on the topic of education and vocational training (VET) in the Euro-Mediterranean region.