The biggest challenge now facing Europe's economy is how to sustain the recovery that is now underway. This is the main message of the 2014 Annual Growth Survey (AGS). Its adoption kicks off the fourth European Semester of economic policy coordination in an environment where growth is beginning to return and Member States are making progress on correcting the imbalances that developed before the crisis.
Liberal democracy relies on civil liberties and a pluralistic civil society, but considerable political forces in today's Europe are challenging liberal democracy. The social, political and legal framework must allow for a pluralistic civil society. Strong social partners and civil society are needed to defend EU values. The EESC calls for the creation of a Democracy Semester, a European control mechanism, corrective economic measures for non-respect of fundamental EU values, the creation of a European statute for CSOs, or interinstitutional CSO authorisation and, tax incentives to support civil society. Burning social questions must be tackled, ensuring social sustainability and inclusive education.
The 2013 Annual Growth Survey (AGS), which launches the European semester, sets out what the Commission believes should be the overall budgetary, economic and social priorities for the this year. Given the importance of the involvement of the organised civil society and the social partners in setting priorities for action at the national and EU level, the EESC issues its opinion as a contribution to the debates ahead of the Spring European Council.
The EESC takes note of the Fourth Report on the State of the Energy Union (SEU), supports the objectives of the Energy Union and welcomes the emphasis on the engagement and mobilisation of EU society to take full ownership of the Energy Union.
At its plenary session on 18 July, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a debate with Conny Reuter, co-chair of the EESC's Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks.
This year's Civil Society Days will take place right after the plenary session at which the European Economic and Social Committee celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The focus of this Civil Society Days will be on fostering the current debate about the future of Europe and on highlighting the role across Europe of the civil society organisations which come together in the EESC to represent "Europe at work".
In line with this twofold emphasis, the CivSocDays 2018 will address Europe at work in relation to a dimension which has permeated our everyday working and living environment and will affect and shape our future, as well as the future of Europe: the digital world.
The Civil Society Days 2019 will take place at a crucial moment for Europe, namely after the Sibiu Summit and the European elections and ahead of the constitution of the new European Parliament and European Commission.
Current pressures on our democratic systems are threatening fundamental values (respect for human rights, individual liberty, equality, the rule of law) and the civil society space within the European Union. The alarming consequence is an erosion of democracy and restricted civic space in several parts of the EU.
Against this backdrop and in consideration of the transformation processes the EU is facing, namely on economic, energy and ecological, social, and democratic and participatory level, this year's Civil Society Days will focus on two main pillars, Democracy and Sustainability, and will explore their links and interactions.