SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 04-12-2015
Respect the planet, respect human rights!
04 December 2015
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) opened in Paris this week and will close on 11 December. The objective of the Conference is to achieve, at last, a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping the increase in global warming to below 2°C. These international negotiations are vital for working together towards a carbon-free world, to give the people and the planet a future.
The climate issue is far more than only an environmental question: it is related to overall international development, including agriculture, food security, migration; poverty reduction; employment and local development (with green jobs, fair transition). Climate change which is still contested by some lobbies, has an impact on all our lives through extreme weather events (floods and droughts), temperatures that make life unbearable for human beings and animals, rising sea levels, receding coastlines, and more. With its consequences for all of us the challenge is to have an agreement that does not delay action and does not postpone the consequences for the next generations to deal with. Climate change is a fundamental social issue as it impacts on our living and working conditions, and on health and safety in our working and living environments, and causes and increases migration movements.
Apart from posing for photographs with lots of Heads of State and welcoming “generous” (tax saving) initiatives from 26 billionaires, governments and the EU must find a sound and binding agreement to fight climate change that should be rooted in existing human rights obligations including the obligation to respect, protect and realise economic, social and cultural rights. For us it is important to strengthen social protection systems and programmes as part of climate change adaptation measures. As the ILO has stressed, while acknowledging that prevention should be the main objective of adaptation measures, social protection can, among others, reduce vulnerability; “enhance the adaptive capacity of the vulnerable”; and buffer the impact of climate change on people’s income, acting as an automatic stabiliser.
And the EU is not out of the game: we are still waiting for the mid-term review and adaptation of the Europe2020 strategy. The leitmotiv was impressive and ambitious: smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It’s time to deliver!
Together for Social Europe
Two new SOLIDAR publications
03 December 2015
Progressive structural reforms: Proposals for European reforms to reduce inequalities and promote jobs, growth and social investment
Please find the online version here.
This publication presents the results of the SOLIDAR Social Progress Lab 2015 which was launched in spring 2015. The Social Progress Lab is a space for academics, policy-makers and civil society to reflect on the strategies and policies needed to achieve a more social and inclusive Europe.
It collects analyses by ten academic scholars from across Europe with a focus on identifying and targeting inequalities, shaping social investment and the European policies that affect social safeguards, thereby seeking to enrich the policy debate at European and national level on alternative structural reforms.
Social Progress Watch 2015
Two years after the launch of our tool for monitoring social progress at national level, SOLIDAR’s Social Progress Watch shows consistently the drastic impact of one-sided policy reforms focused on budget discipline and fiscal consolidation at national and regional level. Not only have Greece, Portugal and other Troika-ridden countries reached the limit of what is left of their social welfare states, economically prosperous countries also report deteriorating conditions for workers, the unemployed, youth and other groups.
Here you can find the 14 country reports developed by national strategy groups led by SOLIDAR members and partners: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom and the General Report for 2015.
EU-Turkey agreements: SOLIDAR calls on the EU not to neglect human rights!
03 December 2015
At the last international summit (on 29 November) European leaders and Turkey reached an agreement to overcome what they consider to be their “common challenges” on migration. Turkey will receive an initial 3 billion Euros in exchange for “stemming the influx of irregular migrants” and keeping refugees in the country. European leaders and Turkey also agreed to step up the VISA liberalisation process by the end of 2016 to allow the free movement of Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone.
SOLIDAR is seriously concerned by the direction taken by European leaders in increasing funds for Turkey in return for stopping the migration flow. In particular, given many reported cases of increased violations of human rights perpetrated by the Turkish government towards migrants and Turkish citizens, SOLIDAR is worried about the absence of a clear conditional clause that ties the increased financial support to the proven protection of human rights and freedom of expression in the country.
Building Learning Societies
Lifelong Learning Week 2015
03 December 2015
From 30 November to 4 December 2015 the Lifelong Learning Platform held its 2015 LLL week in the European Parliament. The LLL week 2015 was hosted by the Polish MEP Krystyna Lybacka (S&D). The Lifelong Learning Weeks aim to raise awareness of Lifelong Learning in Europe and of the need to adopt a holistic and democratic approach at all levels of decision-making, implementation and evaluation. Besides the events and policy debates organised throughout the week, civil societies had the opportunity to take part in an exhibition and set up a stand on the 5th floor of the European Parliament to present their activities and projects about Lifelong Learning.
SOLIDAR participated in this exhibition and attended several events such as the ‘Validation Task Force’, the policy debates on ‘Guidance and Counselling to take Validation to the next level’ and ‘Education to promote Intercultural Dialogue and Citizenship’. High points of these meetings were amongst others the interventions of the chair of the CULT committee of the European Parliament, Julie Ward (S&D), and MEP Momchil Nekov (S&D). Whereas Julie Ward reminded the audience of the importance of interculturalism and its positive effects on society, Mr. Nekov strongly insisted on the importance of non-formal and informal learning (NFIL) and its role in strengthening the social cohesion of our societies. He made use of his speaking time to promote the European campaign launched in cooperation with SOLIDAR to achieve validation of learning outcomes of NFIL by 2018.
Organising International Solidarity
SOLIDAR at the EuroMed EESC Summit
04 December 2015
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).