The European Social Meetings took place in Paris from 12 to 15 December 2018. The conference was co-organised by CEMEA and SOLIDAR Foundation in an attempt to bring international activists and civil society actors together to discuss the current social climate in Europe and share best practices in the field of social intervention. Prior to the conference, SOLIDAR Foundation and its members met at CEMEA headquarters for a meeting of the Education and Lifelong Learning Forum to discuss the 2019 work programme and upcoming activities.
While unrest in France took over the streets of Paris with the Yellow Jackets movement, a number of workshops, conferences and roundtables on social movements across Europe were held at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. The main issues that emerged during the discussions were the restructuring and regrouping organisations in the social sector to further develop and evolve in the current difficult social and economic climate.
Furthermore, the question of increased financial and administrative dependence from associations to national authorities and institutions and the consequences it had on the social and educational choices were brought up in workshops held by activists and NGO workers.
Human rights activists Nora Koves gave us an insight into Orban’s governmental decisions to repress civil society and pursue right-wing policies of punishing the poor and the homeless, through to his recent legislative changes in the national parliament. Other challenges included the fear of funding cuts, which has spread across a number of post-communist countries which have recently entered the EU, such as Romania or Bulgaria.
Other speakers and participants included S&D MEP Karine Gloanec Maurin, who discussed Orban’s stance in the European Parliament and the response at the political level for the EU and its Member States. In addition, SOLIDAR Foundation organised a workshop on how to mobilise against populism and the extreme right wing discourse in view of the upcoming European Parliament elections in May 2019.