SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 16-10-2015
Last night the European summit again examined the urgent question of migration and refugees. Despite stories in the media suggesting the flow is diminishing, it is in fact continuing and is even expected to grow considerably, as the root causes which drive people to leave their families, homes and countries are far from being overcome. Politics is returning to a regional geopolitical dimension, with a country waiting for decades for real enlargement negotiations with the EU: Turkey. Turkey is seeking a stronger financial commitment than that proposed by the council on the grounds of “shared responsibility”. In return, Turkey is called upon to contribute “to explore possibilities for safe and sustainable reception capacities”.
In other words, to prevent migrants and refugees from crossing the border into the EU.
A deal is not only a matter of finance, it is much more a political deal, and the Turkish President is engaged in preparing the next elections by fighting the Kurds and HDP. The recent bomb attack against the Peace march inspired much speculation as to who was behind it. Talking about “safe borders” creates the image of an invasion, but there are no troops entering the EU, there are hundreds of thousands of human beings looking for a better life and still dreaming that the EU will be able to offer them this opportunity. It is more than astonishing that a European summit negotiating a deal with Turkey does not remind the leader of that country that the European Union is based on values, on human and social rights. There is not even a reference made to contributing to the internal stability of the country. Postponing the presentation of the progress report on the candidate countries which are part of the enlargement package, which is critical of the human rights situatio n in Turkey, until after the elections in Turkey on 1 November is sending out the wrong signal.
For decades we have seen that in the EUs external relations stability has been the ‘tradable commodity’ that EU leaders will accept in return for watering down requirements on human and social rights. The Arab Spring provided evidence of these “deals”. For us, a human rights approach to the migration and refugee crisis also means insisting on those rights when negotiating at intergovernmental level! SOLIDAR together with our partners advocate for human and civic rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights, in the EU, in neighbourhood policies as in international trade and development cooperation. And they are urgently needed also in Turkey!
Together for Social Europe
Demonstration in Berlin: 250,000 people demand: “Stop TTIP and ETA – For Fair Global Trade”
13 October 2015
Last Saturday (25 September), a big demonstration against the Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US took to the streets of Berlin. Please find below the press release by the organisers.
Berlin: „Stop TTIP and CETA! For Fair Global Trade” – That was the message sent, last Saturday (10 October 2015), by an estimated 250,000 people as they protested against the free trade agreements the EU is negotiating the US (TTIP) and Canada (CETA). Never before have so many people taken to the streets on this issue. The number of participants far exceeded the organisers’ expectations. A broad alliance of civil society groups had called for the mass protest.
Working together to tackle the migrant and refugee crisis along the Western Balkan routes
15 October 2015
This week SOLIDAR together with its member ASB and partners of the IRIS network participated in an exchange of views on the European enlargement process and the state of play in the Western Balkan countries organised by the S&D group in the European Parliament. At this meeting representatives of civil society organisations presented their feedback on the progress of Western Balkan countries towards the Enlargement process and provided specific information about the situation in the countries most affected by the refugee crisis. In October, the European Union decided to allocate an additional 17 million euros to help Serbia and Macedonia to cope with the refugee influx.
According to the feedback collected by SOLIDAR through an extensive consultation with members of the IRIS network, since the beginning of the refugee crisis Serbian authorities have been working to develop sustainable answers. However, cooperation with civil society and local governments has been almost absent. Moreover, in many reported cases the needs of beneficiaries have not been taken into account by the central government when allocating funds for tackling the refugee crisis through the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. Borders have been closed in Macedonia since the end of August 2015 to prevent the arrival of new refugees and force has been used to push them back. SOLIDAR stressed that more efforts are needed to promote the protection of human rights in the region and to strengthen the cooperation of governments with CSOs.
Building Learning Societies
Empowerment and solidarity through education
16 October 2015
On 12-13 October SOLIDAR members and partners met for the second thematic Education Experts’ Network meeting focusing on civic education and empowerment. This meeting was a great opportunity for members of the SOLIDAR network to get a good insight into the work of the Swedish member organisation – ABF who hosted the meeting. ABF is Sweden’s largest adult liberal education association, established in 1912 on the foundations of democracy, diversity, justice and equality and with a mission to give the most to those who have received the least. The organisation provides a place for personal growth and the development of competences, it also offers trade union studies, and embraces organisations for migrants, the disabled, and the elderly. Adult education is provided in cooperation with local municipalities – large number of courses at basic and secondary level.
The ABFs core activities – “Folkbildning” – are organised in the form of study circles. A study circle is a group of people who meet regularly and study together. Anyone can start one, and they can meet anywhere, at times that best suit the group. Study circles have been crucial to the fight for democracy in Sweden, and have contributed to making Swedish popular movements among the strongest in the world. But democracy is not hereditary. A democracy needs people who dare to re-analyse things and have the courage to question things that are wrong. This sort of courage and security can be developed in small groups using the educational methods that the ABF stands for. The group have had a chance to discuss the methodologies ABF is using as well learn about the practical side of the organisation of study circles, and met with the head of KOMVOX, responsible for the formal education activities of ABF.
Organising International Solidarity
European Neighbourhood Policy Days
15 October 2015
In the wake of the final communication on the new European Neighbourhood Policy that is expected on 18 November 2015, SOLIDAR, the EuroMed Non-Governmental Platform, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) with the support of CONCORD, will organise two public debates to further strengthen CSO dialogue with EU institutions and to provide concrete civil society policy recommendations in the wake of the revised policy to promote economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs):
16 November 2015: Second EU-Arab Civil Society Dialogue “Rebuilding Relations with European Southern Neighbourhood Countries”, organised by CONCORD, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and the EuroMed Non-Governmental Platform, with the support of SOLIDAR at the European Economic and Social Committee.
SOLIDAR members and partners promoting a rights–based approach to social protection in Jordan
16 October 2016
Last week SOLIDAR’s member ARCS and the Jordanian partner organisation Tamkeen “Fields for Aid” organised a two-day workshop “Social Protection in Jordan between Practice and Application” to address the challenges to build a rights-based social protection system in Jordan.
The workshop highlighted the need to promote a rights-based approach to social protection ,by including independent trade unions in the official consultations, along with the strengthening of the social protection system and the control mechanisms of the Social Security Corporation (SSC), the urgent reconsideration of the minimum wage for both Jordanians and migrant workers, and a deep reform in the education field to combat unemployment.