IN THE SPOTLIGHT
A Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit: Civil Society ‘an integral element in a well-functioning democratic system’
A Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit, Vilnius, 28-29 November 2013 presents after Summit status report and a way ahead for the Eastern Partnership and the role of the civil society.
'The participants of the Vilnius Summit recall the valuable role of civil society within the Eastern Partnership’, a declaration says. ‘They recognize that civil society constitutes an integral element in a well-functioning democratic system and underline the contribution of civil society in all the relevant activities under the Partnership including through the Civil Society Forum and its National Platform. It also welcomes the support extended to civil society through the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility.
It recognises the outcome of the 5th meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum on October 4-5, 2013, in Chisinau and the establishment of the permanent secretariat of the Civil Society Forum. The declaration welcomes the 6th meeting of the Civil Society Forum that will take place in Georgia. ‘The participation of the Civil Society Forum representatives in the meetings of the multilateral Platforms should be further encouraged’, it says.
‘The participants of the Vilnius Summit underline the need to further strengthen civil society and recognise the important role played by civil society, through the Civil Society Forum and its national platforms, in partners’ reform processes in encouraging dialogue between civil society and partner countries' authorities on achieving the goals of the Eastern Partnership’, according to the declaration. It emphasises 'the importance of continuing to make available adequate resources as appropriate to support the capacity development and further involvement of civil society in national reform processes’.
‘Welcoming the outcome of the Business Forum held in Vilnius on 28 November 2013, the participants of the Vilnius Summit invite the business communities in EU and partner countries to further develop the Business Forum and to use this platform to exploit the new economic opportunities offered. They also encourage the social partners (employers' organizations and trade unions), including through the Civil Society Forum where appropriate, to work more closely together as a means to advance in 2014-15 in the area of economic convergence and regulatory approximation’.
The declaration underlines the need to promote investment, research-industry partnerships as well as a vibrant and innovative SME sector to contribute to broad-based, inclusive growth and job creation. It stresses the role to be played by SMEs in economic development in partner countries and the need to develop and implement business-friendly policies to facilitate investment. The recognition of the contribution of a well-functioning social dialogue to support socio-economic reforms and inclusive growth is also emphisised and the intention of enhancing cooperation in the field of employment and social policy, notably by involving social partners is indicated.