A higher profile for civil society in EU – Africa relations
From 4 to 5 March - one month ahead of the EU-Africa summit in Brussels - the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), who supports and strengthens organised civil society both inside and outside the European Union, brought together representatives of employers, workers and various interest groups (specifically farmers and consumers) to discuss the most pressing issues on both sides of the Mediterranean, such as youth unemployment, food security and social protection.
Network established - Economic and social groups have to be heard
The most important result of this first network meeting was the agreement to make it a regular event, a cooperation platform which will contribute to the Joint EU-Africa strategy and so ensure that economic and social interest groups are heard. The conclusions of this initial meeting will be set out in a document which will inform the political bodies taking part in the EU-Africa summit about the most immediate problems and possible methods of resolving them.
United with common goals
"Despite cultural, historical or social differences, we should be united by our common objectives", said José María Zufiaur Narvaiza, member of Group II (Workers) and president of the EESC's External Relations section. "We therefore need to step up cooperation and the exchange of best practice in our fight against poverty, environmental exploitation and youth unemployment. This meeting was the first step along that road!"
A globalised world needs global answers
The conclusions include proposals on
"The UN has proclaimed this year the International Year of Family Farming, while the African Union has proclaimed 2014 the Year of Agriculture and Food Security", explained Brenda King, EESC member of Group I (Employers). "We must ensure that these declarations are not just empty words." Accordingly, the economic and social partners have agreed that agricultural resilience should be one of the priorities of the Joint EU-Africa strategy's 2014–2017 action plan, with the necessary funds allocated.
For more information, please contact:
EESC Press Unit
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The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.