SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 23-10-2015
Editorial by Conny Reuter, SOLIDAR Secretary General
Take it, don’t miss it!
At last policy developments seem to be heading in a more social direction and creating (perhaps) an opportunity to build a real social pillar around the economic governance of the Economic Monetary Union.
The debate is too important to leave in the hands of economists alone.
Whether we finally go for a comprehensive pillar of social rights for all is a political question. Faced with social divergence and the disturbingly high number of excluded and vulnerable people, there may be a temptation to limit the access to a comprehensive pillar of social rights for all to them alone. But what about everyone else? And what about the risk that this approach would create two types of social rights: those for the poor or at-risk-of-poverty and another for the better-off? Rights are equal for all even in the sense described by French writer Anatole France: “everybody has the same rights, everybody has the right to sleep under the bridges of Paris”.
Contrast this interpretation with the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed recently by the members of the UN. Social protection for all is a milestone of this strategy. We still have to decide how far the revised Europe 2020 strategy will integrate the spirit of Agenda 2030.
Only yesterday we demonstrated once again at our event in the European Parliament that social protection for all is feasible if there is political will. It cannot be viewed only as a cost, it is an investment in social infrastructure which can be financed. Evidence of how this approach can work exists, in the experiences of developing countries such as Nepal, Thailand and Lesotho.
Looking for a social triple AAA? Here it is: social progress and social justice go hand in hand with promoting social protection as a right for all!
Organising International Solidarity
Universal Social Protection: an opportunity not to be missed!
23 October 2015
This week, the right to Social Protection and its centrality in shaping a sustainable, and hence alternative, development model was at the core of our second edition of the universal social protection days organised together with a wide range of fellow NGOs including SOLIDAR members (OGB-L Solidaritié Syndicale, Solidaritè socialiste, FOS), Brot für die Welt and CSOs from Burkina Faso, Senegal, DRC, Uganda, and Burundi: three days for CSOs and EU representatives to have dialogues, exchanges, reflections and discussions on a) the role of different actors (European Commission, European Council, European Parliament, UN, and CSOs) in promoting the human right to social protection; and b) how to move from commitments to the implementation of the social protection-related SDG targets.
Indeed, Agenda 2030, adopted in September this year, commits both industrialised and developing countries to “end poverty in all its forms and everywhere” through the implementation of “nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, by 2030”. In other words, Agenda 2030 puts social protection at the heart of an alternative development paradigm.
Together for Social Europe
Support the civic initiative ‘SOS MEDITERRANEE – A rescue ship for the Mediterranean Sea’!
20 October 2015
On 19 October SOLIDAR attended the launch of the initiative ‘SOS Mediterranee’ aimed at starting a search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea along the Libyan coast. Civil society representatives from different countries created the European Association for the Rescue of Life in the Mediterranean Sea – SOS Mediterranean to provide humanitarian help to those who otherwise would risk losing their lives. Since then, the NGO has collected funds – among others via crowdfunding – to buy a 60-meter long ship and make it operational by the end of 2015.
The initiative is supported – among others – by economist Thomas Piketty, MEPs Klaus Buchner, Arne Lietz, Cornelia Ernst, Charles Goerens, Ana Gomes, Rebecca Harms, Gesine Meissner, Anna Zaborska, and former MEP Frank Schwalba-Hoth.
New EU Trade Strategy – New Approach?
21 October 2015
On 14 October, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström presented the new trade strategy of the European Commission entitled “Trade for all. Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy”. What looks at first sight like a shift away from the trade liberalisation we have known until now towards a more global strategy “for all”, has to be treated with caution when examined in detail. Although the strategy makes repeated references to the principles of effectiveness, transparency and the safeguarding of European values, all with a global – WTO-related – approach, the current practice of the Commission in negotiating trade agreements draws another picture.
The EU is currently involved in negotiations with the US (TTIP), Canada (CETA, finalised), and several other countries regarding trade in services (TiSA), to name but a few, thereby contradicting the approach of inclusive trade agreements that also involve poorer countries. Instead it is still focusing on exclusive trade agreements with the more developed countries.
Building Learning Societies
Education, Training and Youth Forum 2015
22 October 2015
This year the European Commission has proposed a new set of priorities for European cooperation in education and training – Education and Training 2020 – as well as the Paris Declaration, that was proposed by Education ministers in the aftermath of the Paris and Copenhagen attacks. On 19-20 October the key education and training stakeholders met to discuss the practical implementation of the priorities and possible cooperation.
The Forum was preceded by the dedicated Civil Society Event organised by the European Commission as a step towards reinforcing dialogue and cooperation between the Institutions and education and training CSOs. Civil society actors are the ones who on the local level promote intercultural dialogue, fundamental rights, strive for upward social mobility and work towards social integration and social cohesion. David Lopez (of SOLIDAR member organisation La Ligue de l’enseignement), as President of the Lifelong Learning Platform, has called on European Institutions to develop a flagship initiative on inclusive education for inclusive societies that could support the grassroots’ initiatives in addressing the challenges of today. During the closing session of the CSO Forum Conny Reuter, SOLIDAR Secretary General, stressed the pressing need for more civic engagement and to invest in support for outreach, empowerment and diversity. Mr Reuter stressed the need to promote the EU charter for fundamental rights, as well to look at art 3, 5, 9 and 11 of the Lisbon treaty. In his closing remarks Mr Reuter appealed for building a genuine partnership “we need to build an institutional framework for a permanent dialogue with civil society organisations and through this dialogue to be involved in Council meetings”, and called for more mutual learning for mutual understanding.