30 June 2022

Philea engages in 2022 Civil Society Days

From 15 to 17 March, the European Economic and Social Committee held its annual Civil Society Days. Under the overarching theme of “The European Union as an engine for shared prosperity – civil society for an economy that works for people and the planet”, the EESC hosted seven thematic workshops on how EU civil society can help build a thriving economy that leaves no one behind, in the new context shaped by Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, and against the backdrop of the double green and digital transitions. The opening session was moderated by Hanna Surmatz, Philea.

After a welcome by Brikena Xhomaqi, Co-Chair, EESC Liaison Group and Christa Schweng, President, European Economic and Social Committee, Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President, European Commission, clarified in the light of the aggressions of Russian forces in Ukraine, the crucial need to protect the values behind the “European way of life” and warned against taking them for granted. The opening panel discussion centred on whether or not a viable, sustainable economy that creates shared prosperity is a possible goal.

Sergey Lagodinsky, MEP, Greens/EFA, expressed his belief in a more equal, united and democratic Europe, rooted in an economy that works for people and the planet. He then clarified that to manifest this vision, civil society must play its part, and its room for manoeuvre must be secured.

Olivia Grégoire, speaking on behalf of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, explained that the social and solidarity economy is an economy that puts people and the environment at its centre and is driven by a spirit of integration, sharing of experiences and cooperation. It is a key driver of growth and shared prosperity. Jo Swinson, Director, Partners for a New Economy (P4NE), said that economic growth doesn’t necessarily lead to a “good life” for all, and highlighted the need to aim at a broader vision of shared and lasting prosperity: an economy that works for people and the planet, in which everyone has the potential to flourish as human beings without negatively impacting the planet.

Alexandrina Najmowicz, Co-Chair, Civil Society Convention on the Conference on the Future of Europe, and Secretary General, European Civic Forum, called for a strategy for the European institutions to engage with civil society, not just through funding or consultation, but also by using the tools we have in the treaties to engage in dialogue with the institutions. Piotr Sadowski, Secretary General, Volonteurope, called for not losing sight of the social dimension and people’s well-being in the green and digital transformation. The discussion highlighted the links between these three transitions (green, digital and social) and stressed that democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights are core values that must not be compromised if a sustainable Europe and an economy that works for people and the planet are to be achieved. The implementation of the digital, environmental transition and climate agenda must include social commitments and fundamental rights.

Delphine Moralis, CEO, Philea, also spoke in one of the workshops about the need for a green social market economy for the future of Europe. Philea also co-organised a workshop on “Framework conditions for civil society”, which made recommendations for European civil society strategy. These include measures to better recognise the sector and civil dialogue, favourable legal frameworks, creating a level playing field, access to public funding and overcoming barriers to cross-border philanthropy, and monitoring and protection mechanisms at the EU level.

Around 400 citizens from Europe attended the Civil Society Days 2022 to engage with European organisations and institutions on the challenges of sustainable prosperity for Europe and to propose timely solutions given the critical political situation in which the EU finds itself.

The seven workshops, which each focused on a different key issue to ensure sustainable prosperity in Europe, presented key recommendations that can be accessed here.

More information about the 2022 Civil Society Days can be found here.


Hanna Surmatz
Head of Policy