Civil society makes call for real and just transformation

Applications for the EESC Civil Society Prize are open till 6 September, 10am

Photo: Maria Koleva At Civil Society Days, Valentina Corradi is explaining everything about ECI.

The people that came to Brussels on 12 and 13 June for the Civil Society Days, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), more explicitly than ever called for real change and 'thinking outside of the box', for redefinition of concepts, for breaking with obsolete stereotypes that no longer work for prosperity but rather hinder the way forward.

This lively forum set in the forefront 'Sustainable Democracy in Europe'. The buzzword this time was 'transformation', a makeover that the civil society will request from the new leadership of the Commission and other key EU institutions.

All pillars - environmental, social, and economic, but also cultural and governance-related - must be considered equally for addressing some of the pressing challenges Europe is currently facing, such as the climate, and the social and democratic crises, EESC President Luca Jahier outlined.

Opening the forum, he accented on the need to involve young people, “with their passion and relentlessness, to drive a constructive rebellion towards a new way of living”. He also pointed out that all citizens should feel a sense of co-ownership in the transformation, encouraging them to participate in decision-making processes, and their voices have to be seriously taken into consideration.

During the discussions were highlighted a score of inspiring projects from across Europe, shaping the vision of a fairer and more just Union and attracting hundreds new adherents. The transitioning to an economy for people and planet, e-democracy, citizens' advocacy power and alternative forms of active participation, economy and democracy in the labour market, were some of the lead topics.

Talking about encouraging citizens' participation in decision-making, the most powerful instrument to achieve that is the European Citizens' Initiative. The Commission is a strong supporter of ECI and want to encourage more and more citizens to take part and deliver ideas for new legislation. It even runs a campaign to promote this tool throughout Europe. Valentina Corradi is explaining what is necessary in order to launch an initiative. She is from the team that travels across the EU countries to present what is ECI and how can one 'take the initiative'.

The EP should establish a permanent committee that works on post-growth economy, the Commission should set a DG for wellbeing and future generations, the Council should turn the Stability and Growth Pact into Sustainability and Wellbeing Pact - these are some of the suggestions which Nick Meynen from the European Environmental Bureau made during the discussion.

Francois Denuit, Doctor in political and social sciences, University of Warwick and ULB, presented the idea for a European universal basic income that is given to all individuals in the EU without any requirement to look for work or without any conditions for resources. It should be a modest amount, between €200 and €300. The idea is not to build supranational EU welfare state, but to see EU as a complimentary welfare layer supporting national welfare states, he expounded.

In the context of the Civil Society Days, the EESC again recalled that the applications for 2019 are now open for its flagship Civil Society Prize. This year the prize is dedicated to the empowerment of women and the fight for gender equality. All civil society organisations officially registered within the EU and acting at local, regional, national or European level, as well as individuals, can apply with their projects. The deadline for participation is 6 September, and the award ceremony will be held on 12 December in Brussels.


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