SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 08-04-2016
08 April 2016
Even though it didn’t concern the European constitution like in 2005, the Dutch referendum on the EU-Ukraine trade agreement reminds us of what happened 11 years ago in the Netherlands and France: the consultation of the population of an EU founding country rejects a political proposal of the European institutions. Although the participation was very low, the no-vote of more than 60% doesn’t need any further explanation. Again the motivation was heterogenous: some did not go to the poll station because they were neither convinced nor motivated to do so – always a bad sign in democracy when the biggest party is the sofa party – others voted against because they saw it as a chance to send a signal that they no longer believe in the European project. Apparently the discourse on better regulation persists to be unconvincing, as it remains to be stuck on the level of discourse. On top of that, the situation of citizens afraid of losing status in times of a polycrisis, afraid of migrants and refugees arriving, even in a very rich and tolerant country like the Netherlands seems very unlikely to be improved any time soon.
We can only reiterate our call for investment in economic and social cohesion, for public and social investment, which is the needed societal glue that will bring trust back to the citizens.
The extreme right jubilees on anti-EU and anti-establishment votes. Is this a bad joke?! It may be against the EU in its actual shape, but those who’re claiming anti-establishment are not the ones experiencing poverty or social exclusion. They are the extremist part of the elites! The Panama papers just highlighted that the French National Front has benefited from off shore arrangements. Besides, it’s the extreme right that have a big (financial) supporter, not to say a big brother, in the shape of the Russian President who walks away as the big winner of the democratic EU turmoil. He is the one who actually got what he wanted: a weakened EU-Ukraine relation and a destabilised EU ahead of the British Referendum.
Citizens can neither be blamed for voting like they did nor for not voting. Nevertheless a participatory process such as a referendum needs more than campaigning material, it needs Aufklärung on the issues at stake, it needs policies that strengthen trust. How many more signs do EU leaders need to understand that business as usual on growth, competitiveness and internal market do not reach the hearts and minds of citizens. Urgent need for policies that change and improve lives. Again it is the social, stupid!
SOLIDAR Silver Rose Awards, the Progressive Civil Society Awards – The call for nominations is open
Who should receive this year’s SOLIDAR Silver Rose Awards? Since the year 2000 SOLIDAR has presented the SILVER ROSE AWARDS in the premises of the European Parliament, the symbol of European democracy. The Silver Rose is more than an award, it brings those who are tirelessly defending human and social rights into the spotlight. It is a moment to show those individuals and organisations who are not always in the public eye that their work is not going unnoticed. A moment for Brussels to be inspired by their life changing stories. And a moment to stress that together we can achieve social justice in Europe and worldwide. Therefore we invite you to nominate now the organisation or individual whose outstanding efforts should be publically recognised with a Silver Rose Award in one of the three categories, Together for Social Europe, Building Learning Societies or Organising International Solidarity. The Silver Rose Nomination form.
Nominations can be submitted till Monday 11 April 2016
Undoing Croatian democracy in just 2 months
Written by GONG’s Research Centre, Croatia
07 April 2016
Since the forming of the current right-wing Croatian Government in January 2016, democratic development in the newest EU member-state has been rapidly deteriorating, showing tendencies towards authoritarianism. These tendencies are visible in attacks on the freedom of the media and pro-democratic civil society, as well as forcibly taking over the infrastructure of the secret service apparatus and the police.
The backslide towards an illiberal democracy has begun with an attack on non-profit media by the Minister of Culture (an historian with an openly pro-fascist worldview), only five days after his assuming office. The dissolution of the Commission for Non-profit media and the subsequent complete cutting of funds for non-profit media from the state budget, accompanied by the mysterious disappearance of the budget line for non-profit media from the European Social Fund Operational Program for 2016, all represent an embodiment of the pre-election campaign promise by the leader of the largest coalition partner (HDZ), Tomislav Karamarko, that everybody will be able to think and speak freely only within their own four walls. Simultaneously with the attack on non-profit media, rapid changes of leadership and editors on public television and radio have taken place, as well as an unprecedented pro-fascist march on the Agency and Council for Electronic Media, independent regulatory body for electronic media, which was not sanctioned by the Government. Rather, the Minister of Culture had proposed and the overnment adopted and sent to Parliament the proposal to dismiss the entire Council for Electronic Media. The attacks on the Council started once it issued a 3-day ban on broadcasting to a local TV station for airing hate-speech.
Together for Social Europe
European Migration Forum: civil society recommendations on migration and integration
08 April 2016
On 6 and 7 April SOLIDAR participated in the 2nd European Migration Forum organised by the European Commission and European Economic and Social Committee to allow civil society representatives from the national and European level to provide inputs in the current EU policy-making process on the area of migration with a focus on labour market integration.
Many valuable points were raised by the participants on the pre-conditions to make integration happen such as the importance to apply an overall approach that goes beyond merely labour market participation but rather empower individuals and promote peaceful coexistence. SOLIDAR highlighted that a successful integration can only be realised by investing in social and health care services. In order to bridge inequalities and improve integration opportunities for migrants, SOLIDAR considers key for Member States to develop frameworks for validation of competences acquired in all forms of education (formal, non formal and informal) as well as recognition of their learning outcomes. This would significantly enhance labour market access.
SOLIDAR roundtable on defining social safeguards: a European perspective
08 April 2016
On Monday 4th April 2016, SOLIDAR and its partner Multicultural Center Prague organised a conference on Labour mobility and citizenship: Safeguarding social standards in Europe.
The first part of the conference presented particular experiences and cases of violations of labour rights of mobile EU citizens in the EU labour market (see reports) collected by civil societyorganisations involved in the LABCIT project (“Testing EU Citizenship as Labour Citizenship: From Cases of Labour Rights Violations to a Strengthened Labour Rights Regime” co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union). It also presented recommendations to overcome potential regulatory failures at the national and EU level (subcontracting, temporary agency work, intermediaries, etc.).
Building Learning Societies
Lifelong learning in the context of social inclusion and personal development
06 April 2016
As we watch the switch from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy, lifelong learning (LLL) plays a crucial role in achieving social inclusion and strengthening active participation in society. Rapidtechnological changes and unstable employment situations lead many people to undergo several transitions in their lives as they continually seek to gain additional knowledge and competences. Broader learning opportunities, both outside and within formal education settings, are necessary in order to address these needs. However, access and participation in lifelong learning still remain an issue in many countries. Overall, education and lifelong learning in Europe are heavily affected by austerity policies that have seen cuts in their national budgets.
This is also the result of SOLIDAR’s Education and Lifelong Learning Watch (LLL Watch) initiative, where we monitor the development and commitment of national governments towards learning societies andwhere the state of play in promoting access and participation in lifelong learning is one of the six benchmarks that the SOLIDAR Foundation focused on this year. Out of the 13 national country studies, Finland and Sweden are the frontrunners and have adult participation rates in LLL over the 20% threshold.
Organising International Solidarity
Commissioner Hahn’s visit to Tunisia should set clear ‘red lines’ for the implementation of the ENP in Tunisia
07 April 2016
On Thursday 7th April, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn will be on an official visit to Tunisia. Among the key priorities of the visit are the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), and in particular the launch of the upcoming negotiations with Tunisia for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA).
SOLIDAR works in Tunisia in close partnership with civil society organisations (CSOs) and independent trade unions to promote social justice thought decent work and social protection for all. In the framework of an EU-funded regional programme to promote Freedom of Association, Decent Work and Social protection for all, SOLIDAR members and partners have produced the 2015 Social Protection Monitoring Report for Tunisia, analysing the impact of the ENP to foster inclusive socio-economic development in Tunisia. Read the full report here.
In this context, SOLIDAR wishes to draw some red lines for the implementation of the ENP in Tunisia to ensure that economic and social rights remain at the heart of the EU-Tunisia Partnership.
The Social Protection Monitor at the S&D’s Africa week
07 April 2016
In the framework of the S&D Group’s Africa Week – taking place between the 5th and the 11th April 2016- the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Global Progressive Forum (GPF) and SOLIDAR co-organised a roundtable discussion on decent work and social protection for Africa.
The roundtable offered the opportunity for an open exchange between CSOs from South Africa, Malawi and Uganda and policy makers. Norbert Neuser (S&D group’s coordinator for development policy),highlighted that the Cotonou revision will be a renewed opportunity to promote the progressive realisation of Econmic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs) and achieve decent for and social protection for all. Linda McAvan (S&D, Chair of EP DEVE Committee) pointed out that social protection should be a central piece of the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) implementation strategy and that social protection systems should be made sustainable by, among others, the setup of fair taxation systems.