On 30 November, Conny Reuter, SOLIDAR Secretary General, gave a speech at the 2015 EuroMed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions that was organised in Brussels at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)In his speech he pointed out that “like in real life neighbourhood is not always easy as you do not choose your neighbours. As in daily life you need to dialogue in spite of the past, of differences, of difficulties. The new approach to the European Neighbourhood Policy is a chance to take.”
The summit was organised on the 20th anniversary of the EuroMed Summits and was aimed at addressing the key challenges in the EU-Mediterranean region, prospects for regional dialogue, the involvement of economic and social stakeholders and current migration and refugee challenges, looking at the recently launched European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
The Summit’s final declaration clearly highlighted the key role of CSOs and social partners in promoting economic, social and cultural rights and social protection in the framework of the revised ENP, the need to invest in youth and education and women to foster sustainable socio-economic development.
In view of the re-negotiation of Association Agreements (AAs) with partner countries in the framework of the new ENP, SOLIDAR calls on the EU to:
- Uphold values and Human Rights, including human rights conditionality, against which systems to promote reform in the MENA region, supported by the EU, will be evaluated.
- Support the statutory role of civil society whose organisations must be recognised as key interlocutors for an open, meaningful, transparent, structured dialogue at the local, national, regional and EU level.
- Enhance the role of civil society organisations allowing them to have a meaningful and concrete impact on the ground, especially by taking concrete actions against practices by partner countries that limit the space for civil society in the region.
- Embrace the human security approach: Security is not about barbed wire, but it is about investing in people, especially in education, decent jobs and social protection and fostering sense of solidarity among people.
- Migrants and refugees: A set of measures need to be taken such as humanitarian corridors, tackling the root causes of migration and other efforts. Moreover political courage is needed among EU Member States to provide suitable answers to the current crisis.
- Trade and investment: A real partnership, in light of the EU Agenda 2030, should be established to ensure policy coherence for sustainable development. This would necessitate a change in the underlying approach of the trade agreements (i.e. DCFTAs).
- Specific attention has to be given to people with special needs, in particular Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), to ensure their integration in society as well as participation in decision making processes.
- In the management of the humanitarian crisis more support has to be provided to civil society (i.e. grassroots organisations) to promote a sustainable resilience agenda over the long term.
Please read more on SOLIDAR’s work on the ENP here.