About 180 representatives of some 130 civil society organizations, mostly from the southern Mediterranean region, met on December 2nd and 3rd with representatives of the European Union for the second Brussels Civil Society Forum.
Good governance and rule of law, security and the fight against violence, migration, economic development and social dialogue, as well as climate and social justice were the five specific themes discussed with high-level European Union representatives and civil servants. Gender, youth and non-discrimination issues were also mainstreamed in the discussions. At the opening of the Forum, Wadih Al Asmar, President of Euromed Rights, summarized the key issues of the forum as: "how to strengthen the structured dialogue, ensure effective monitoring of joint commitments, and sustain the process started". The objective of this second Civil Society Forum in Brussels was to deepen the recommendations of the 2019 Majalat business cycle * and to identify potential ways of implementing collaboration between civil society and the European Union.
The role of youth was at the heart of the discussions. "Young people in the south and north of the Mediterranean have the right to take their place in this dialogue, in the same way that this youth is taking its rightful place by giving life and hope to the whole population in several countries on the southern shore, despite the repression and violence they suffered," said Wadih Al Asmar. "The youth of the southern Mediterranean are totally opposed to any request for interventionism. What they demand is that the EU objectively analyzes the democratic, social and climatic impact of each of the decisions affecting the countries of the southern shore," he added.
"We need these views from outside," said Maciej Popowski, Deputy Director General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations for the European Commission. "Civil society organizations are part of the checks and balances. They are indispensable for accountability," he added in his opening speech.
"Majalat's interest is that your demands are representative of the realities of your countries, beyond what your governments tell us," said Rosamaria Gili, Middle East and Africa Regional Manager of the European External Action Service.
Kamal Lahbib, on behalf of the consortium of organizing civil society organizations, concluded the forum on the wish to continue the Majalat process which, "with its territorial and social roots, can contribute to a 'security architecture' of peace, democracy and social justice in the region."
* This second 2019 Society Forum was prepared through an annual cycle of activities (several thematic regional workshops, national activities, a youth workshop, and a South Policy Seminar in Tunis in September 2019).