SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 13-11-2015
Another summit, but not yet at the top!
13 November 2015
The Malta summit was a necessary step and if the newly created fund facilitates real investment in the sustainable development of African and Arab states, it will bring some progress. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that we’re still in the European Year of Development. After processes like the famous PCD – Policy Coherence for Development and the opening up to private actors, we cannot just turn the page on the fact that the MDG’s have not been reached and that ODA is still lagging behind the 0.7% GNI target – as modest or ambitious as it seemed – in most EU Member States.
Sustainable development policies are more than free trade agreements which are likely to work to the advantage of the US, Europe, China or Russia, at the expense of the developing countries. Tackling the root causes of poverty and migration requires a strong focus on measures that promote economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) and political (good governance) development. Social and civic freedoms, the right to organise and the freedom of speech are parts of the rights based approach. If these are not put into practice, the vast civic disobedience movement by those who migrate in spite of all the risks and the warnings will continue.
In all modesty, it is civil society and development NGOs who, above all, fit the profile to carry out the much needed master plan, as they are more than lobby and advocacy organisations. Together with their partners they are active on the ground and are actually among those who suffer from the policies that promote and increase inequalities. Let us use the potential that the recently adopted SDGs represent to mobilise at the national, regional and international level and put social investment at the core as THE relevant progressive development paradigm! Thus the top of the summit could be reached and progress through social justice achieved! Ambitious? Yes, but not out of reach!
Together for Social Europe
Study reveals: Europeans want social protection and solidarity – time for action for the European Commission!
12 November 2015
A study commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation surveyed people in eight EU Member States and comes to two interesting conclusions: findings reveal that Europeans do want to maintain welfare states and transfers from rich to poor, even across borders. In each of the eight countries surveyed, more than half of the population is counting on the EU to preserve social welfare standards and would even like Brussels to take a more active role: to set minimum standards for social protection in all EU Member States and to put pressure on national governments to implement welfare reforms.
This is a clear call to the European Commission to come up with strong proposals for a social pillar, an action announced in its work programme for 2016. In a hearing with the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs committee on 10 November 2015, Commissioner Thyssen gave some indication of what such a social pillar could look like. In order to achieve upward social convergence, the Commission is planning – together with Member States in the framework of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) – to develop employment and social benchmarks, following the approach used for the Youth Guarantee Scheme or the recent proposal on long-term unemployment. “This work programme is the most social Commission work programme in years”, stated Commissioner Thyssen in her exchange with Members of the European Parliament.
Valletta summit on migration: a step forward for an equitable EU-Africa partnership or a leap back to political bargaining?
13 November 2015
On 11-12 November 2015, a summit on migration took place in La Valletta (Malta) involving over 60 heads of states from EU Member States and African countries participating in the Rabat and Khartoum processes as well as several international organisations such as the UNHCR and IOM.
The main outcomes of the summit are:
- The establishment of the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for stability amounting to around 1.8 billion Euros made up from the European Development Fund and contributions from EU Member States.
- The drawing up of an Action Plan which focuses on several elements such as addressing root causes, preventing smuggling and improving readmission agreements.
In a post-summit statement, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, also mentioned examples of concrete actions to be implemented in 2016 such as projects to enhance employment opportunities in countries of origin as well as the doubling of the number of scholarships for students and researchers through the Erasmus+ programme. Some of these concrete actions are pilot project s to fight smuggling and increase returns.
Building Learning Societies
OECD report “How’s life? 2015. Measuring well-being” – a good education is more than just a passport to work
12 November 2015
On 13 October 2015 the OECD published its third report on “How’s life? 2015. Measuring well-being” which describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s lives and well-being in OECD and partner countries. This third edition includes a special focus on child well-being.
Aware that macro-economic statistics, such as GDP, don’t provide a sufficiently detailed picture of the living conditions of ordinary people, the OECD Framework for Measuring Well-Being and Progress is built around material conditions, quality of life and sustainability, each with their relevant dimensions. Whereas the material conditions concentrate on traditional factors such as income and wealth, jobs and earnings and housing, the OECD tries to analyse the quality of life by measuring health status, work-life balance, education and skills, social connections, civic engagement and governance, environment quality, personal security and subjective well-being.
Organising International Solidarity
Social Protection: Key for peace and prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa
13 November 2015
Next week during our European Neighbourhood Days we will launch our 76th briefing paper titled ‘Social Protection: Key for peace and prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa’. This policy briefing builds on the long-standing commitment of SOLIDAR, The Arab NGO network for Development (ANND) and the EuroMed Non-Governmental Platform to voice the concerns of the people in the region towards the EU. The three networks have been monitoring the implementation of the ENP for years, through a process of consultation with hundreds of civil society organisations across the European Southern Neighbourhood.
This policy briefing builds on the findings of the Social Protection Monitoring Reports produced by the three networks, and it aims to give an overview of the regional trends across the MENA region with regard to the challenges related to decent work, social protection policies and freedom of association, with the aim of highlighting the need for the revised European Neighbourhood Policy to put the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) at its heart.