The 7th Joint Seminar of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation (CCRF) will bring together EESC members and representatives of their Russian counterpart, representatives of the European Commission, experts and academics, to discuss cooperation in the areas of higher education and rural development. During four thematic sessions, participants will focus on EU-Russia cooperation in the fields of science, research and innovation; aligning higher education in the EU and Russia (the Bologna Process) and Erasmus+, on narrowing the gaps between rural and urban areas, and on cross-border cooperation for businesses and SMEs.
The EESC's engagement with civil society organisations in Russia is governed by the five guiding principles for EU-Russia relations agreed between EU foreign ministers and the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. One of these guiding principles is "support for people-to-people contacts".
Dialogue and the exchange of experiences between civil society representatives from the EU and Russia contribute in a significant way to the continued implementation of the EU-Russia Strategic Partnership. The EESC has adopted a two-stranded approach to its relations with Russian civil society in order to engage with as wide a range of civil society representatives as possible. On the one hand, it maintains relations with the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, its official Russian counterpart, and organises – amongst other things – annual joint seminars on topics of interest to civil society on both sides. The EESC's other partner is the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, which brings together a different set of civil society organisations.
The EU-Russia Follow-up Committee is an internal EESC body, which acts as a steering group, and is responsible for developing and maintaining relations and organising meetings and joint seminars with civil society in Russia.
The EESC has set up a permanent study group on Roma inclusion which will be monitoring the implementation the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies from the point on view of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Anti-gypsyism and discrimination are important barriers to Roma enjoying full rights and this hearing plans to map possible avenues for redress for Roma, including equality bodies. The hearing will allow for the exchange of best practices on how Roma can address violations of their rights.
Evictions remain a serious problem across Europe and the input session will draw the attention to similarities between evictions in different kind of countries.
The session will help raise awareness of the issues, and allow for interchange between Roma organizations across Europe and is part of the continuous work of the EESC to bring attention to Roma issues. This will also be an opportunity for the EESC to deepen its work on evictions, following the showing of a film on Roma evictions in Italy ("River Memories") followed by a debate on this issue.
The EESC and the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum are organising their 3rd joint seminar, on 23 November 2016, in Versailles. The objective of the seminar is to discuss topics of common interest for European and Russian civil society. On the agenda this year will be questions such as the current situation in which civil society in Russia and in the EU are operating, and questions relating to migration, specifically focusing on good practices and experiences in integrating newcomers into host societies.
The EESC Employers' Group is organising a seminar on "Strengthening European Growth and Competitiveness: Proactive Trade Agenda – NOW!" taking place on 26 October in Helsinki and jointly organized with the Confederation of Finnish Industries and the International Chamber of Commerce, ICC Finland.
Trade and Investment are hugely important for the EU: 1 in 7 EU jobs depend on exports. The EU cannot risk falling behind in the global race to build a wide and ambitious network of free trade agreements. The signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement (involving 12 countries and 40% of world GDP) is a timely reminder of this. This seminar, which will be attended by many of our Members together with Finnish employers and entrepreneurs, politicians and academics aims to examine how to best contribute positively to the debate as trade agreements (TTIP - TISA - CETA - EU-JAPAN) increasingly become a top political issue.
In its own-initiative opinion, the EESC is looking at the efficiency of the efforts, funded from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), in tackling poverty and social exclusion in Europe – as one of the Europe 2020 strategy's most important goals.
The aim of this hearing is to collect specific observations and recommendations based on the experiences of civil society organisations with the implementation of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) for combating poverty and social exclusion.
When it comes to Roma issues, the gender dimension has long been neglected. However, women have an essential role in Roma society and ensuring their participation is a key element in improving their situation. Romani women across Europe often face discrimination on multiple fronts: racism for being Roma, as well as gender discrimination.
It is not possible to speak about the inclusion of Roma if half of their community has little or no opportunity to express their needs and make their voice heard. Roma inclusion policy needs Roma women activists and advocates. The gender dimension can also play an important role in the success of National Roma Integration Strategies (NRISs).
In the light of the ongoing EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is drafting an own-initiative opinion on "The position of the EESC on specific key issues of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations". In this framework, the EESC is organising a public hearing, to be held at the Committee premises on 30 June 2016, beginning at 9 a.m.
In 2016 the EU-Africa Network of economic and social stakeholders will gather Nairobi (Kenya) on 6-7 July. This year the focus will be on:
• MIGRATION (follow-up to the Valletta Summit between EU and African heads of state, comparative of EU and African approaches to legal migration)
• CLIMATE CHANGE AND AGRICULTURE (how to facilitate socio-economic actors' access to financial resources to fight against climate change)
The EESC will organise a meeting bringing together the representatives of the employers, workers and various interests' group (particularly farmers) from both continents to reinforce cooperation among European and African socio-economic actors, raise awareness and improve knowledge of available sources of financing to tackle climate change and identify common strategies and possible partnerships.
Ahead of the international Roma Day on 8 April, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will hold a hearing on "Anti-gypsyism, possible responses", which will feed into the work of the EESC permanent study group on Roma inclusion monitoring the implementation the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.
Anti-gypsyism is an important barrier to the effective implementation of the framework and national integration strategies, and the hearing wants to shed light on possible responses to this cross-cutting problem. The European refugee crisis acerbates problems with general racism, xenophobia which also affects Roma. A hearing on anti-gypsyism and other forms of racism and xenophobia will allow exchanging best practices on how to combat these phenomena.