The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
The EU-Africa economic and social stakeholders' network will first deal with the up-coming EU-Africa Action Plan for the period 2018-2020. The annual meeting will specifically address migration and economic issues, focusing on the implications for young people. The youth focus is essential as young people clearly represent an increasingly important proportion of African populations. Moreover, youth unemployment in both Africa and Europe is a shared concern of economic and social actors. It is helping to feed migration flows, especially for young Africans who are facing a lack of prospects.
Description of the Fifth Meeting of the EU-Africa Economic and Social Stakeholders' Network
The Joint Africa-EU Strategy was adopted on 9 December 2007 and has become the main framework for intercontinental relations between Europe and Africa. Its goal is to develop a shared vision of the main global issues whilst simultaneously strengthening cooperation in a broad range of areas such as development, governance, human rights, trade, regional integration, food security, migration and youth.
The EESC is organising the annual meeting in conjunction with the first meeting of the ACP-EU Follow-up Committee (2018-2020 term of office). The meeting will be held at the EESC building in Brussels (16 and 17 July 2018).
The EESC proposes dealing first with the 2018-2020 Action Plan. The annual meeting will specifically address migration and economic issues, focusing on the implications for young people. The focus on young people is essential, as they clearly represent an increasingly large proportion of African populations. Moreover, youth unemployment in both Africa and Europe is a shared concern for economic and social actors. It is contributing to migration flows, especially for young Africans who are facing a lack of prospects.
2018-2020 Action Plan
On 9 December 2007, the second Africa-EU Summit in Lisbon adopted a "joint strategy", enabling the European Union to open a new chapter in relations between the two regions. At that time, a first Action Plan was adopted to implement the Joint Strategy. It currently takes the form of a roadmap laid down for the 2014-2017 period during the fourth Africa˗EU Summit on 2 and 3 April 2014, setting out the following priorities:
peace and security;
democracy, good governance and human rights;
sustainable and inclusive development and growth and continental integration;
global and emerging issues.
Renegotiated after each summit, the new 2018-2020 Action Plan has not yet been adopted by the European Commission and the AU Commission. The Action Plan first had to be presented to the AU Member States on 15 and 16 June 2018 before they could adopt it. In this context, the EU-Africa Economic and Social Stakeholders' Network, meeting in Brussels on 16 and 17 July 2018, sees this coming together of EU and African economic and social actors as an opportunity to learn about the content and practical arrangements of the Action Plan in preparation for the 2018˗2020 period.
The network of EU and African economic and social actors wants to put young people at the heart of the proceedings, in keeping with the policy declaration at the EU-Africa Summit of 30 November 2017, in which European and African leaders voiced their shared determination to invest in youth for a sustainable future.
The migration issue
Since the 2015 refugee crisis, African and European civil society actors involved in assisting migrants, particularly during their difficult journeys towards Europe, continue to be confronted with migration, often under tragic circumstances. However, the extraordinary nature of the migration crises in the western and central Mediterranean overshadows two aspects: firstly, longer-term migration dynamics fuelled by vigorous population growth in Africa; and secondly, flows essentially within Africa and mostly directed towards the exploitation of the continent's agricultural and mining resources.
The economic issue
Economic growth in Africa is the other decisive factor in Africa's relations with Europe. According to the World Bank, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa should reach 3.1% in 2018 before consolidating at an average of 3.6% over the 2019-2020 period. These statistics hide, firstly, disparities between African countries and regions and secondly, growth tied to the exploitation of primary sector resources (farming, forestry, fisheries, mines and hydrocarbons).