On Saturday 23 October, the second Conference Plenary meeting took place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. SOLIDAR participated actively in the Plenary Session, voicing the aspirations and concerns of CSOs for this process, together with the small but powerful delegation of the Civil Society Convention!
While the first session of the Plenary convened in June was structured for all delegates to share their expectations, this Plenary should have marked the start of the content-based discussion. Indeed, all the main components of the Conference - Multilingual Digital Platform, Citizens’ Panels, Working Groups and Plenary - are finally now in place. However, SOLIDAR regrets that the lack of structure for the debates in the Working Groups wasn't conducive to a discussion based on the proposals emerging from the Digital Platform but rather an opportunity for all participants to voice their respective priorities. Like we voiced during the Plenary, this adds up to the risk for the Conference to become a stockpiling exercise for missed opportunities, as it is coupled with the lack of debate in the Plenary on the proposals emerging from the Platform and from the Citizens’ Panels, as well as to the many organisational issues that remain unresolved for a meaningful participation of Civil Society Organisations in this process.
SOLIDAR was nevertheless able to convey a strong message for CSOs to be recognised as active agents for social cohesion and social progress, filling the gaps left by the lack of social investment. We expressed our aspiration for the Future of Europe to be inclusive, fair and sustainable and thus to proiritise the achievement of Social Justice through a Just Transition. For this reason, we supported the proposals related to the introduction of a Social Progress Protocol, and we expressed eagerness to discuss all proposals aimed to strengthen social rights and social protection for all, and to offer fair working conditions and equal opportunities for all, including for universal access to quality education and lifelong learning.
Altogether, the representatives of the CSO Convention expressed concerns over the lack of inclusiveness and representation of marginalised communities in the Conference, amplifying the campaign launched by Citizens Take Over Europe.
You can listen to the entire debate of the Plenary at this link, and you will find the intervention of SOLIDAR (Elisa Gambardella) below.