Session about plurilingualism and promotion of minority/regional languages

European Committee of the Regions (Brussels), 25th September 2018

On the 25th September a working session about plurilingualism, intercultural understanding and promotion of minority and regional languages took place in the European Committee of the Regions in order to celebrate the European Day of Languages (26 September).

The event was organised by the Government of Navarra in collaboration with the European Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD), the European Language Equality Network and the European Alliance.

During the event Loránt Vincze, President of European Nationalities, underlined interested aspects such as the difficulties minority languages have to access to European Union. The speech given by Mathieu Berge, member of Nouvelle Aquitaine-Euskadi-Navarre Euro region, was also interesting, because he talked about educational projects to develop the use of Basque language in French Basque country, where it is not an official language.

The intervention of Jill Evans, from of the Group of the Greens, member of the European Parliament, also contributed to the debate. He highlighted that the use of minority languages in new media could be a way to promote them and adapt them to a global world in which they could be worthy for matters such as technology and industry.

Finally, Peio Monteano Phd, Royal and General Archive of Navarra, after explaining the origin and development of the Basque language, invited all the attendees to see an exposition about it in which the main old sources of the language were showed.

Progressive Society Conference

Change the European Economic Model, for the many

European Parliament (Brussels), 5th September 2018

Nowadays inequalities affect all of us: social, economic, regional and environmental inequalities involve almost every facet of the everyday life of EU citizens. Many are the challenges in the fields of social inclusion, innovation, education social housing and renewable energy infrastructure. In order to ensure a more equal, sustainable and progressive society, Europe needs to change its economic model.

On the 5th September 2018 EUAbout participated in the Progressive Society Conference organized by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament. The conference gathered many opinions and contributions of experts and policy analysts about the different dimensions of the transformation that Europe needs to undertake in order to ensure a more progressive society.

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he need for another economic model

The main topic of the conference was the need for a shift from the growth paradigm to a sustainable development paradigm. Sustainability, radical change and innovation are the key-words we must incorporate in our methodology in order for our society to be truly transformational, as Cristina Gallach (High Commissioner for Agenda 2030 at the Spanish Government) said in her speech.

Pervenche Berès, S&D Group Member and ECON Coordinator, underlined that EU policies require e re-think in order to fully integrate all sustainable development dimensions. According to him, EU fiscal policies do have critical effects: the Stability and Growth Path did not allow long-term investment strategies, the achievement of SDGs and the fight against inequality. He pointed out that we need to properly choose our tools to implement the goals we have and that we must create strong rules to fight inequality.

According to Peter Schmidt, President of the Sustainable Development Observatory EESC, the wrongness of our economic model depends on the definition of competitiveness, that has become just a race to the bottom, exploiting the environment and the people. Furthermore, he said that we cannot say that EU is a leader in pursuing SDGs since we have already eaten our resources available for this year in April in some of our Member States. Thus, EU sectoral policies need a re-think in order to ensure equal access and opportunities to all Europeans.

Monitor deliver, not progress or trends

Marianne Kettunen, Principal Policy Analyst and Lead of Global Challenges and SDGs, sustained in her speech that EU SDGs monitoring framework requires further development. Currently, no policy goals have been set in order to assess the success of EU actions. We need to define targets and to monitor the distance of our results to our goals, and not just progresses and trends.

The cultural dimension and the involvement of citizens

New technologies and a good governance are certainly necessary in order to achieve our goals, but Kathleen Van Brempt, S&D Group Vice President, underlined also the need for another dimension: the cultural one. A problem brought out by Giulio Lo Iacono, Responsible Relations with Stakeholders at the ASviS, was in fact the lack of awareness in the people. Proper strategies of communication are necessary in order to make ordinary people understand what sustainable development means. Therefore, we must translate SDGs in real life, involving citizens through dialogue and the sharing of ideas. Otherwise, people will not support EU actions.

In conclusion, the shift towards a new economic model, social development, the definitions of targets and the raising of people consciousness must be key objectives throughout Europe, but we should also question ourselves about the implications of the implementation of SDGs in Europe and of the EU circular economy on developing countries, an interesting issue that was raised in the conference by Marianne Kettunen.

Sustainability in Europe

Martin's Brussels Hotel, 15th of April 2018

The Martin’s Brussels Hotel in Boulevard de Charlemagne saw, on the past 15th of April, a presentation on the current issues on sustainable development that are being discussed in the neighbouring Berlaymont building, notorious home to the European Commission in Brussels. Some honourable experts and EU policymakers attended the meeting and turned it into a high-profile panel discussion on the need for an urgent, effective and immediate response to the unsustainable production and consumption system the EU countries are following.

Careless use of resources is leading to an unsustainable path towards development creating something similar to a vicious circle, where powerful business interests and a longstanding negligence of the problem by the Member States seem to do nothing to redress it. A weak enforcement of the EU climate regulations and a somewhat lacking policy-making effort by the Member States are to blame for the virtually inexistent change in the climate figures over the last 10 years throughout the continent. The Paris Protocol and the 12 UN Sustainable Development Goals seem to have fallen into wet paper, but the member of the Budget Committee in the European Parliament Mr. Petri Sarvamaa was clear to point out that these are nonetheless the appropriate baselines on which we need to build the future agenda on sustainability. In fact, he revealed that the Parliament’s goal for Horizon 2020 is to raise the Commission’s climate budget from the 19,4% of the recent 2018 proposal to an ideal 30%. Mr Janez Potocnik, former EU Commissioner for Environment, likewise drew the attention to the 1992 Rio Conventions on Sustainability, calling for the creation of a new instrument to unify such three conventions adapting them to the current European economic model. This instrument shall be the MFF, expected to be released by summer 2019, a document that has been at the centre of the discussion throughout the conference. Many expectations are put on the MFF, judging by the speakers’ interventions, as a milestone in climate change policies and gamechanging sustainable development measures which must be, according to Mr. Potocnik, the result of a common effort of all Member States to sacrifice part of their sovereignty for the sake of the planet.

An interesting insight into the autonomous territory of Aland, in the Finnish peninsula, provided the audience with an extraordinary example of a global and long-term sustainable governance with no precedent, which despite the small size of the country can be scalable to a wider European level. This possibility raises the hopes of many of the experts that gathered at the event, as long as – hopefully – the Member States are finally able to set their differences and economic interests aside and start focusing on the much more concerning issue of protecting the planet for generations to come.

Civil society and municipalities: building sustainability through collaboration

Committee of the Regions (Brussels), 20th September 2018

The conference was organized by ECOLISE and the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee), together with Transition Network and the European Committee of the Regions. Its aim was to discover and to share new ways to support and achieve common objectives through a bottom-up approach, in order to create an equitable, sustainable and low-carbon society. 

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A Europe closer to citizens?

The urban and territorial dimension of Cohesion Policy post-2020

European Parliament (Brussels), 4th September 2018

Cohesion policy is the European Union's strategy to promote and support the ‘overall harmonious development’ of its Member States and regions. It is enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Art. 174) and it aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion by reducing disparities in the level of development between regions.

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The EU Manifesto on Influenza Vaccination

The Renaissance Hotel, 24th April 2018

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The sophisticated hotel in Brussels hosted an outstanding event with the most skilful researchers and notable representatives of European health and medical institutions, who came together to present a manifesto on the need to expand the coverage of Influenza vaccination in Europe.

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Cluster meeting for European Policy experimentation projects 2016
Support for policy reform, initiatives for policy innovation 

European Commission (Brussels), 18th September 2018

Under the Project of EACEA 34/2015 ten European policy experimentation projects were selected in the field of education, training and youth. On the 18 September 2018 participants met for the third time to share information about how their projects, which sometimes are shared with partners from others countries, are going, to expose their difficulties and to try to find common solutions.

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Whither European asylum policy?


Whither European asylum policy

It is unquestionable that the recent waves of population who have fled their home in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries have caused one of the most severe humanitarian crisis in modern history. The geographical proximity, the relatively easy accessibility by land and the welfare-based State governance of Europe have turned into the main destination point for the more than two million refugees who arrived since 2015.

Precisely this was the topic of the conference held in the magnificent Thon Hotel EU the past Thursday 23rd of May. Under the title “Whither European asylum policy? A pendulum between universalisation and re-nationalisation”, the University of Bergen put together a high-profile panel of experts who shared their opinion on the new Common European Asylum System, which aims to harmonise the asylum procedures of all Schengen States.

The CEAS will gather the most effective practices that Member States have been applying up to this date to homogenise the European asylum regulation to grant an equal protection to all asylum seekers regardless of the country they first set foot on. However ideal this may sound, it seems that the response mechanisms currently in place in the different Member States are overall extremely lacking both in securing a protective environment for the refugees and in providing a cost-efficient solution for national governments. In the words of Mr. Hakan G. Sicakkan, convener of the conference, most Member States are strategically neglecting the Geneva Convention guidelines for humanitarian protection by creating their own national citizenship model that best fits the political orientation of the parties in power. His eye-opening statistical studies based on regressions were followed by a very grounded, straightforward insight into the States’ political game by the Member of the European Parliament Mrs. Jean Lambert. “States are unable to look at each other’s systems and learn from their neighbours”, she pointed out as an example of the Member States’ lack of solidarity. And precisely about this word was the speech given by Twente University’s professor Claudio Matera, who compared it to the principle of loyal cooperation to which all EU countries are subject under article 4(3) of the Treaty of the European Union. The attendees also got an insight into the reality of “protected refugees”, who are left in a sort of non-juridically defined “limbo” where their mental and emotional welfare is put at risk due to unjustified prolongation of the waiting time to receive official refugee status. Following a deep exploration of the IR measures currently in place in Norway – which according to Ms. Bendixsen are greatly feared by the refugees they are directed at, due to their inefficacy – the conference gave place to Mr. Stephen Ryan, Deputy Head of Unit for Asylum in the European Commission (DG Home Affairs). Mr. Ryan highlighted the benefits of the new CEAS as a long-term politically sustainable and coordinated mechanism. While he pointed at human dignity as the red line that no country should ever cross, he mainly favoured the creation of a uniform policy that distributes the burden of hosting in an organised way and takes a realistic approach towards the financial and political capabilities of national governments. The last speaker to intervene was Mr. Dominique Guibert, president of the European Association for the Defense of Human Rights (AEDH), who provided seven steps (in French) towards improving the situation of both refugees and host countries – amongst them, he highlighted strengthening the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and investing a lot more in development in the origin countries to tackle the problem from the root.

The conference finished with a compelling roundtable where all the present stakeholders could compare their stances towards revisiting the national asylum mechanisms to build a one-size-fits-all European system for protection of incoming refugees. We thank the University of Bergen and Thon Hotel for hosting such an insightful event, and we hope that the CEAS provides the solution that this unprecedented humanitarian crisis has been calling for.

Address: Charles Martel 54, 1000 Brussels, Belgium                e-mail:                  Telephone: +32 25227315