Civil society and the future of the EU – side event in the framework of the Social Summit

For the first time in about 20 years, Heads of State and Government gathered in Gothenburg on 17 November to discuss social issues in the future of the EU during the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth.

Social Platform had the unique opportunity to participate in these discussions and sent a delegation of members to represent the voice of European civil society. Our key messages and demands to Heads of State and Government can be found here, and explored more fully in this blog post. For more information please also read our press release.

On the eve of the Social Summit, Social Platform organised a side event on ‘Our Europe: Civil society and the future of the EU’. Situated in the beautiful Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, the side event consisted of two parts: an exchange of views on the role of civil society in shaping the future of the EU with different key partners, and the launch of our inspiring practices exhibition, showcasing the great work civil society does on the ground.

We were very pleased to have had excellent speakers joining the discussion: Member of the European Parliament Maria Joao Rodrigues talked about the far-reaching potential of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was proclaimed during the Social Summit the next day, and how instrumental civil society is in implementing and operationalising its principles. Mayor of Gothenburg Ann-Sofie Hermansson explained how the city of Gothenburg is working together with local civil society to bring the labour market closer to people who find themselves excluded, and how to build an equal and inclusive society. Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation Liina Carr highlighted the importance of cooperation between social partners and civil society organisations in pursuing social policies benefitting all people, and the President of the Close to You Foundation in Romania, Angela Achitei, demonstrated the great potential social economy enterprises have in providing inclusive employment for all. Social Platform President Jana Hainsworth highlighted the need for more frequent meetings at the highest political level to discuss social issues in Europe and argued it is unacceptable to wait another 20 years for the next gathering of Heads of State and Government on the topic.

After the civil society exchange we launched our exhibition of inspiring practices, demonstrating that a socially inclusive Europe putting people at its heart is not only possible, but in fact already happening on the ground! Collected through our family of members, the exhibition showcased just some of the great initiatives taking place on the ground in areas such as the inclusion of migrants, the social economy and quality employment. To learn more about the practices displayed, please click here.