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PRESS RELEASE No 95/2011
22 September 2011
A NEED FOR A NEW DEMOCRACY AND A NEW GROWTH MODEL
Euromed: Democracy means supporting civil society
Euromed: Democracy means supporting civil society
Since December 2010, popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have led to a historic shift in the region, which has involved the active participation of all social strata and numerous civil society organisations.
In light of these developments, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on "Promoting representative civil societies in the Euromed region" at its 474th plenary session on 21 September 2011. There is no doubt about the political character of this opinion, which will be presented in the Euromed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar institutions. "The EESC can play an active role in the new European Framework for cooperation with Mediterranean communities by supporting the capacity building efforts of independent and representative civil society. We can use our expertise in social dialogue and economic and social rights", explained Mr Dimitriadis (Employers Group, Greece), the rapporteur for this opinion.
Furthermore, as civil society's EU-level representative, the EESC can greatly help by advising national economic and social councils on participatory democracy and strengthening dialogue between employers and workers in the region. "The Euromed NGO symposium", held at the EESC in September 2011, this year's exploratory missions undertaken in Morocco and Tunisia, and the upcoming visits to Lebanon and Egypt are good examples of the EESC's active implementation of its cooperation with civil society from the Mediterranean countries. The Euromed Civil Society Summit that will be organised by the EESC in Istanbul in November will put together the conclusions of those activities with the aim of fostering cooperation at regional level.
EESC calls for a new growth model in the Euromed region
On 21 September 2011, theEESC adopted an opinion on the energy model and an information report on rural development, key elements for shaping a new Euromed society.
Rural development and employment in the Euromed region
"In Egypt 45% of income in rural areas comes from work in the public sector and in Morocco 87% of farm workers have no agricultural training at all. In order to bring growth to the people a radical structural reform is needed" said Mr Narro, rapporteur for the EESC opinion (Various Interests Group)
The uprisings in the region have not only highlighted abuses by dictators, but have also drawn attention to the urgent need for economic and social development in rural areas. "In Algeria 90% percent of the population live in 10% of the territory, which corresponds to urban areas near the coast." mentioned the rapporteur in order to illustrate the abandonment of rural areas.
Food insecurity and high food prices are set to remain a problem in the region. For the EESC, the ideal solutions are: training, technology and innovation, without forgetting the reshaping of traditional sectors such as tourism and agriculture. Therefore, sector-based strategies supported at local, regional and national level must be implemented.
The promotion of renewable energies and the European Neighbourhood Policy: the case of the Euro-Mediterranean region
In January 2011 the European Commission decided to consult the EESC on the economic and social impact of renewable energy development, taking the example of the Mediterranean region.
The main message of the exploratory opinion adopted at the plenary session is the need for a coordinated approach towards renewable energies in the Euromed region, following the model of co-development. The Mediterranean's ecosystem is fragile and deteriorating due to economic growth and rampant urbanisation, and a "New Green Deal" is therefore needed for the region.
According to Mr Coulon, rapporteur for the opinion (Employees Group), a first step has already been taken: "We welcome the European Commission's initiative in rethinking its Mediterranean approach and advocating structured and reinforced cooperation, in which renewable energies are a key element". This approach should take into account not only the promotion of renewable energies, but also improved energy efficiency, network connections and interoperability.
"The social and economic risks stemming from rising supply costs and the repercussions for the energy bills of countries, households and businesses could intensify sharply as a result", warned Mr Buffetaut, co-rapporteur for the opinion (Employers Group).
For more information:
Antonio Santamaria Pargada
European Economic and Social Committee
+32 2546 9779
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