IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Economic integration and SMEs policies in focus of WG2 annual meeting in Brussels
Tagged under Working Group 2
The annual meeting of the Civil Society Forum’s Working Group 2 dealing with issues of economic integration and convergence with EU policies took place on 14 May 2014 in Brussels, bringing together thirty civil society representatives from the Eastern Partnership countries and the European Union. The working group members exchanged views on work programme and priorities for the upcoming months, discussed potential group’s input to the new Forum’s strategy and shared their expectations regarding participation in the annual Forum’s meeting in Tbilisi in November this year. The civil society representatives’ engagement in the Eastern Partnership intergovernmental platform meetings and events was also discussed.
As in past working group meetings, during the morning session the country coordinators updated the group on activities and recent developments within working group national platforms. The participants were also briefed on the past and upcoming events of the intergovernmental platform on "economic integration and convergence with EU economic policies", and informed of an opportunity for two Forum’s representatives to attend each of the upcoming events.
During the presentations session, Philippe Cuisson, Deputy Head of Unit at DG TRADE, European Commission, provided the participants with an overview of the process for implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, focusing on the complexities of approximation with EU norms and standards and monitoring process. The subsequent questions and answers session pointed out the important role civil society representatives play in raising awareness about the conditions and modalities of the agreements among authorities and public at large. This session also featured presentations on the social economy and social investment market, European Investment Bank activities in the Eastern Partnership region as well as donor support to SME Competitiveness Reforms in the Eastern Partner countries.
The afternoon session was specifically dedicated to sub-groups meetings and presentations, focusing on the topics of DCFTAs, SMEs, Agriculture and integration in the EU’s ICT infrastructure.
The meeting also provided space to reflect on potential project initiatives to support the capacity-building of the group. The proposal for setting up of the European Economic Integration Index for all the six Eastern Partnership countries found strong support from members of the group, although there was a need to further consult and elaborate on this idea before presenting the finalised project proposal at the annual Forum’s meeting in November.