On the 22th of October, EUD attended the Third Civil Society seminar organized by the European Centre of Expertise in the field of labour law, employment and labour market policy (ECE) on behalf of the European Commission. This event brought together participants from numerous Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from the national and European levels, alongside ECE Experts and European Commission officials.
This year’s Civil Society seminar had as its theme strengthening the involvement of civil society in the European semester and opened with the presentation by the European Commission of the annual review on employment and social developments in Europe (ESDE), which focused on the theme of sustainability, including sustainable growth for all, which is a part of the future of a Social Europe. This seminar was also an opportunity for the European Commission to present the preliminary results of the 2019 edition of the social scoreboard. As a reminder, the social scoreboard supports the European Pillar of Social Rights and is a tool to ensure the effective application of the pillar by analysing the trends and performance of the countries of the EU.
Further, the work on the state of CSOs in the EU was outlined by various researchers such as Helmut Anheier, Professor of Sociology at the Hertie School of Governance, Sandra Kröger, Senior lecturer at the University of Exeter, Carlo Ruzza, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Trento, and Cristiano Bee, Senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes University.
Topics such as legal environment and civic participation, financial stability, the independence of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), human capital and analytical capabilities, and engagement with and impact on policy making were explored in further detail in a series of parallel break-out sessions that had a particular focus on the European Semester process. During this session, participants exchanged ideas and recommendations for strengthening the role of CSOs. These recommendations included sufficient funding to attract and retain competent and qualified employees, effective consultation with CSOs through a formal framework, and pressuring the governments to work on transparency.
The event was concluded by Jeroen Jutte, Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, who underlined the importance of the engagement of CSOs in order to result in satisfactory policies and explained the frustration that the European Semester may cause because it will take time to be able to perceive impact as it is a long-term process. He considered that economic and social policies must go together as the more we invest in citizens, the more we ensure economic growth.