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EU and Mediterranean civil society reach historic deal on a joint Assembly

15 novembre 2010

Civil society organisations from the EU and countries around the Mediterranean met in Rome from 10 to 12 November 2010 for the annual Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions. In what they hailed a historic move, they adopted a statute for the future civil society Assembly and agreed to seek consultative body status within the Union for the Mediterranean.

Speaking at the summit’s opening session European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) President Staffan Nilsson expressed “hope that the Assembly will reach its full potential in helping to build a peaceful future in the Mediterranean region through closer and permanent ties between civil society on all shores”.

The Assembly of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions will seek consultative body status within the Union for the Mediterranean’s institutional structure, along the lines of what has been achieved with the UFM Parliamentary Assembly (UfM-PA) and the Euromed Local and Regional Assembly (ARLEM).

The statute of a new Assembly foresees a rotating Presidency and Bureau, as well as equal spread of seats between the EU and the 16 partner countries in order to guarantee a North-South balance. It is seen as a ‘living document’ that can be adapted to civil society’s needs over time.

The civil society participants’ warm support for the Assembly was echoed by the European Commission representative Tomás Dupla del Moral who welcomed the creation of the Assembly as a “joint body that will make sure that many communities are associated with the UfM giving them the opportunity to tackle the numerous challenges facing the Euromed region.” Civil Society efforts were crucial to the UfM because they “complemented the initiatives being made at intergovernmental level and they opened up further possibilities for dialogue.”

« Diplomacy is not enough to achieve a sustainable solution for the Mediterranean », said Christophe Rouillon, Vice-President of the French Association of Mayors, representing the President of the Committee of the Regions at the conference. « Participative democracy has to be put at the heart of the debate, in terms of both strengthening it and of direct cooperation between social stakeholders or regions and towns on both sides of the Mediterranean », he added. 

The Summit, which was organised by the Italian National Council of the Economy and Labour (CNEL) and the EESC, also saw a diverse range of civil society stakeholders and visiting experts from the region examine crucial themes such as decent work and sustainable development around the Mediterranean, vocational training as a factor for competitiveness and job creation, building a fairer society in the Euromed region and agricultural policies in the UfM countries. With the new Assembly, these valuable, in-depth discussions between expert citizens’ representatives can be fed directly into the UfM’s decision-making mechanisms guaranteeing, as the CNEL President Antonio Marzano pointed out, “a direct civil society impact on current crisis resolution efforts, as well as political momentum for a brighter future.”

More information about the Summit: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-euromed-summit-2010

Source: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=CES/10/112&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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