National CSOs for a more Social Europe during and beyond EP elections: Social Rights Ambassadors Workshop in France

From 22nd to 24th of September in Toulon, SOLIDAR participated in the “Université de la rentrée”, the annual event organised by our French member, La ligue de l’enseignement, that gathers all La ligue's federations to discuss key topics that are relevant for the entire organisation. This year, SOLIDAR contributed to the discussions bringing the European dimension to the table. More precisely, SOLIDAR co-organised with La Ligue a workshop on the importance of engaging in EU policymaking for national CSOs to build a more Social Europe and the momentum offered by the European Parliament’s elections of 2024 in this sense. This was SOLIDAR's second Social Ambassadors Workshop of 2023, the activity through which we join an event organised by our members and connect the national dimension with the European one.  

The workshop was introduced by a brief overview of the structure and function of the European Union and how EU institutions interact with the national level. After that, a description of the role of social policies in EU policy-making, with a focus on the European Pillar of Social Rights, followed. Several questions and comments arose from the participants, who expressed some difficulties in understanding and interacting with the EU, be it for funding purposes or for participation in decision-making processes.  

At this point, the debate took the format of a “moving debate”, where people positioned themselves in the space based on their opinion on a certain statement and discussed the reasons behind their choice. Through this interactive technique, the participants could discuss the role and potential of the EU in promoting solidarity and the respect of human and social rights. Building on the elements emerged from this debate, we reflected together on how to make sure that this potential is seized, and that people engage in the EP elections and beyond to make this potential a reality for all throughout the Union. 

A presentation by the European Movement France followed, in which they presented their campaign for European election titled “L’Europe pour le bon” (Europe for good) and that targets citizens with the aim of convincing them to go vote. They stressed the key role played by civil society in reaching out to citizens, especially the most disengaged, and presented some communications and engagement tools.  

Finally, members from different federations of La Ligue presented examples of activities and projects they implemented having as topic political education about the EU and training on EU policymaking, as well as workshops on political participation (e.g., youth assemblies). 

This Social Rights Ambassador Workshop offered the opportunity for different perspectives on how national CSOs can contribute to a more socially just EU. SOLIDAR will expand these discussions in the next months and continue engaging with our members in view of the upcoming EP elections! 

These activities have been executed in the framework of the project ''Realising Social Europe For All and With All'' with the financial support of the European Union, through the EaSI strand of the ESF+ programme