Secção das Relações Externas (REX) - Related Information reports
The Covid-19 pandemic is strongly affecting the Euro-Mediterranean region, creating new challenges and exacerbating pre-existing ones. The pandemic has highlighted fundamental weaknesses in institutions, economies and health systems. Civil society plays a key role in the reconstruction and resilience of the whole region.
The EESC highlights the potential of Euro-Mediterranean trade to contribute to sustainable development in the Euro-Mediterranean area and consequently encourages and supports the modernisation and extension of the bilateral Free Trade Agreements included in the eight Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements. The EESC considers that the post COVID-19 recovery provides a momentum for such a modernisation, especially as regards capitalising on the potential benefits of a reconfiguration of global value chains in favour of the Euro-Mediterranean area and in line with the new EU trade policy. In that context, the EESC thinks that a fresh impetus is necessary to relaunch the negotiations on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) with Morocco and Tunisia, as well as discussions with Egypt and Jordan.
This Opinion was proposed to provide timely inputs to the evaluation the European Commission is carrying out to assess the impact of the EU-Colombia/Ecuador/Peru Trade Agreement. The purpose of the evaluation is to provide an evidence-based report assessing the impact of the implementation of the Agreement. The evaluation comes five years after the implementation of the Agreement with Colombia and Peru and two years after its implementation with Ecuador.
For the EESC, through this opinion, the evaluation is an opportunity to propose improvements along the lines repeatedly put forward by the European DAG, made up of the EESC and other European organisations, and to echo the great efforts made by civil society organisations to take part in the follow-up to the Agreement, presenting numerous observations, complaints and proposals to the authorities, especially to the Sub-committee on Trade and Sustainable Development.
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 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.
Cuba poses a major challenge to relations between the European Union and Latin America. The European Union has maintained diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba that have been the focus of special attention, in particular by the European Parliament, since the changes initiated by Raúl Castro's government from 2010 onwards. Among other things, these changes affect the organisation of work, the trade union movement and civil society organisations. The EESC is increasingly engaged with issues of bilateral cooperation, especially with those parts of the world experiencing transformations that bring local organised civil society into the framework of official cooperation relations with the EU. In this regard, the EESC has set itself the aim of ensuring the greatest possible participation by civil society.
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.
This report is the result of the commitment of the EESC Euromed Follow-Up Committee to women issues in the region.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is fully aware of the varying circumstances in different countries in the Mediterranean region. It is particularly aware of the conflict and instability affecting many southern Mediterranean countries. The EESC calls on the European Commission (EC) and governments of the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region to develop shared solutions to these challenges – including poverty, economic challenges, conflict and terrorism – which are resulting in unacceptable suffering, especially among women.
The central role that women play in the process of democratisation during transitional periods, when drafting national constitutions and when reforming current laws must be safeguarded and sustained through good governance in order to prevent setbacks in gender equality.
The Information Report can serve as a tool to promote and share the rich experience of the EU and its Member States in the area of CSR with partner countries and their civil society. It can provide a basis for discussion in EESC dialogues with partner countries, as well as the Committee's contribution to the work of the monitoring mechanisms established by the recently negotiated EU trade agreements.