[Brussels, 7 April 2014] On Monday 7 April 2014, the European Women`s Lobby (EWL) took part in the launch of the new EU Alliance for a democratic, social and sustainable European Semester, also called the Semester Alliance. The EWL is working with 16 other major environmental, social and equality NGOs and trade unions to see more progress on the Europe 2020 Strategy’s commitments.
At its first conference, the EU Semester Alliance presented its initial assessment of the European Semester for smart, sustainable and inclusive EU: Proposals for 2014 Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs): Progressing on a Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive EU, proposing country-specific recommendations in country fiches.The publication represents initial attempts to assess macroeconomic, social, environmental and equality policies being delivered through the Semester and to present combined proposals for CSRs that could help achieve progress towards the social, equality and environmental goals and targets of Europe 2020.
The launch of the EU Semester Alliance and the first held conference at the EESC comes at a timely moment as the European Commission prepares its Mid-Term Review of the Europe 2020 Strategy. “Our Alliance believes that the EU can offer a positive agenda, if the Europe 2020 Strategy is put at the heart of EU policy, making smart, sustainable and inclusive growth with delivery on the social and environmental targets and a real commitment to equality the key goal,” said Barbara Helfferich on behalf of the EU Semester Alliance. “Effectively engaging civil-society stakeholders in these processes is key to get sustainable policy solutions at national and EU level, as well as reinforcing much-needed legitimacy of the EU. We are offering the partnership of thousands of our member organisations across the EU to make this happen”. Read the press release of the Semester Alliance.
Progress in the implementation of the commitments of the EU2020 Strategy in the social, environmental, employment and equality fields has been disappointing; steps have been taken backwards on the poverty and employment targets with 8 million more people in poverty and a declining employment rate of 68.4%. In addition to the failure of the Europe 2020 targets, the EU Alliance is concerned about the democratic legitimacy of the European Semester and the lack of stakeholder participation in the decision-making. As the aim of the Alliance is to support progress towards a more democratic, social and sustainable Europe 2020 strategy, the Alliance is calling for a better engagement of civil society organisations and trade unions in the EU decision-making.
Mary Collins, Policy Officer at the European Women’s Lobby, spoke at the event to emphasise the need to have a specific gender objective in the Europe 2020 Strategy and gender approach in all the national strategies. “The cuts and austerity measures are having a disproportionate effect on women because women are more relied on public services than men,” she said. The economic crisis is having a growing impact on the most vulnerable in Europe; it is important to better bring civil society and the economy together and listen to the stakeholders’ voice.
In its Manifesto for the European elections, the EWL calls for the democratisation of the EU semester process through the participation of the EP and women’s organisations.