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.

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.

During the session interesting aspects to develop sustainability projects came up, such as the importance of having a good community willingness to undertake a sustainable path. First of all people should be educated in order to make them understand why it is important for them to develop in a sustainable way. With regard to this idea, some of the attendees asserted it would be much easier to successfully develop a project when the community has got the leadership or when the project is shared between politicians and people.

On the other side, there was who said more pragmatically that who starts a process towards sustainability does not matter and that in social issues context is always important to develop a strategy. It is also worthy to underline that most of the time there is not a defined problem, but a huge amount of different problems which can be fixed in singular and suitable ways. It could be easier to start from easy issues that can be solved through small actions. This would allow people to understand that also small initiatives could improve their environment.

Another interesting point of the conference was that sustainability issues often seem to be raised only at international and national level; they should be brought also to the daily life, the human level, by making people know their actions are necessary and worthy. This would help local government to work for sustainability.

The meeting included also a discussion about what EU can deliver to support Communities and Municipalities. Visnar Malinovská (DG Clima, European Commission) and Rudolf Niessler (DG Smart & Sustainable Growth & Southern Europe, European Commission) highlighted the importance of data, new media and technology to work together in Europe starting from the human level.

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.

IMG 20180905 153152 min

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.

Cluster meeting for European Policy experimentation projects 2016

Support for policy reform, initiatives for policy innovation 

European Commission (Brussels), 18 th  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.

   In a very interactive meeting, representatives of each project pointed out the importance of being supported from their own Minister of Education in order to achieve the aim pursued in their project. Also, they highlighted that direct involvement of European Commission staff in the projects would be useful in order to have a better point of view of the difficulties a project has to face. For instance, there are some social differences between countries that share a common project.

    Moreover, participants felt it is difficult to develop projects in long term such as educational ones, where it is not so easy to find immediately concrete solutions, as politicians would like. However, they valued the chance to put in common their thinking in order to improve their projects, especially by asking if their projects are good proposals and by showing their willingness to change them.

    After a workshop session in which they tried to answer to questions such as “Why experimentation in education is important?”, “What makes education policy difficult?” or “What are elegant next steps to achieve the change they want to achieve?”, they had the opportunity to ask EACEA staff about specific issues related to their projects. In the last part of the meeting the need for a bridge to close the gap between European education policy and daily teaching was underlined.

    The whole session was moderated by Tatiana Niskacova and Erik Ballhausenand, respectively Head of Sector and Project Adviser of EACEA, Unit A1. Ivar Staffa, Project Officer of DG Education and Culture Unit A1, gave a brief overview of the updates on the latest policy developments. Also Tom Muller, Luxembourger Ministry of Education, Borut Campelj, Slovenian Ministry of Education, and Neli Koleva, member of “Teach for Bulgaria”, participated in the meeting giving a thought about their involvement in some projects that have already been concluded.

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. In order to reach these goals and to address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, € 351.8 billion – almost a third of the total EU budget – has been set aside for Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020. European Cohesion Policy receives funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and theCohesion Fund.

A Europe closer to citizens

On the 4th September 2018, EUAbout attended the conference “A Europe closer to citizens? – The urban and territorial dimension of cohesion policy post-2020” where representatives of the European Commission, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), the European Parliament, EUROCITIES and the URBAN Intergroup debated about the future of the European Cohesion Policy post-2020.

While the current policy focuses on 11 thematic objectives, European Commission new proposal is focused on five priorities that will drive EU investments:

Smarter Europethrough innovation, digitisation, economic transformation and support to small and medium-sized businesses;

Greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change;

-  a more Connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks;

-  a more Social Europe, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and supporting quality employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare;

Europe closer to citizens, by supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU.

Moreover, the urban dimension of Cohesion Policy is strengthened, accounting for 6% of the ERDF dedicated to sustainable urban development.

The Commission has also proposed to reduce the budget devoted to the Cohesion Policy from 34% to 29%.

On the other side, CEMR is particularly concerned about the decrease in the budget, believing that the reduction of funds would reflect a significant loss of ambition at European level and that it would have an impact on the Union’s ability to meet the common European objectives.

CEMR expresses its concerns also about the continuity of the integrated territorial development approach across ERDF, European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) in the period 2021-2027, since the Commission is proposing to exclude rural development from cohesion policy and lowering the territorial approach in the European Social Fund+.

The debate clearly showed that getting Europe closer to citizens is an important policy objective, necessary to promote sustainable development and to respond to the expectations of citizens. The future foreseen by the Cohesion Policy post -2020 includes more efficiency, simplification of rules, more impact capacity, more ability to solve problems and reinforcement of the partnership with citizens, as Anna Lisa Boni, EUROCITIES General Secretary, has stated. All these objectives will affect the EU general approach in the future, as long as its targets and their achievement but, as Fréderic Vallier, CEMR General Secretary, provocatively stated at the end of the debate, “can we convince citizens about what we are doing?”

European Union is keeping on work towards a new Cohesion Policy for the period 2021-2027.

Sources

Council of European Municipalities and Regions:

 - CEMR 10 key messages on the European Commission’s proposals for the future of cohesion policy, 28 August 2018;

 - Declaration on the Commission proposal for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) on regional development and cohesion, 11 June 2018.

European Commission:

 - Cohesion Policy (link

 - New Cohesion Policy (link

European Committee of the Regions:

 - EU Budget 2021-2027: cuts to regional funds will weaken Europe's future, warns EU-wide coalition, 4 May 2018  (link)

 

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