The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), in partnership with the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), Democracy International and the Initiative, the Referendum Institute Europe and Euronews, are organising this year's ECI Day on Tuesday 9 April 2013, from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., at the EESC premises in Brussels.
One year after the launch of the European Citizens' Initiative it was a perfect time to assess the first year, hear the experiences of organizers, draw conclusions from the lessons learnt, devise intermediate solutions and start preparing for the 2015 revision of the regulation. The starting morning session focused on campaigning issues and lessons to be learnt from the experiences of ECI organisers, giving them the opportunity to exchange best practices. In the afternoon, the online signature collection software was discussed with IT and campaign experts, drawing conclusions from the first experiences and making concrete suggestions on how to improve the collection system. Some of the speakers on this year's ECI Day were Staffan Nilsson (EESC President), Mercedes Bresso (Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions) and Maros Sefcovic (Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration).The conference was attended by representatives of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County in Brussels.
With agriculture accounting for more than a third of water use in Europe, European farmers bear major responsibility for safeguarding our water resources. In order to live up to this responsibility while producing good quality, affordable food, EU farmers will have to adopt practices that reduce water consumption and increase water productivity, use and re-use water efficiently, adapt to the effects of climate change, and manage their lands in ways that maintain their natural water retention capacities and the resilience of ecosystems.
The Hearing was chaired by Josef Zboril (NAT Section Member) and some of the speakers were: Mario Campli (NAT Section President), Wouter Vanneuville (Project Manager of European Environmental Agency), Thomas Strassburger (European Comission), Almut Bonhage (Secretary General of European Federation of National Associations of Water & Waste Water Services), and many others. The conference was attended by representatives of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County in Brussels.
The development and the management of coastal and maritime areas are key framework conditions for blue growth, identified as such by the Limassol Declaration, the report on the Integrated Maritime Policy and the European Commission's Communication on blue growth. In this context, the conference aims to express a combination of political elements advocated by the CPMR Inter-Mediterranean Commission (IMC) on these issues, in particular inspired by the findings of the MAREMED project (www.maremed.eu), which brings together 12 Mediterranean maritime Regions. Maremed which nearing completion, was funded under the MED Programme 2007-2013 and focused on aspects of maritime policy with a strong transnational dimension, notably integrated coastal zone management, pollution, adaptation to climate change in coastal areas, fisheries and the management of coastal and marine data. "Blue growth requires framework conditions in terms of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, the production of marine data, pollution control and tackling climate change, as well as a territorial approach to fisheries. These conditions cannot be fulfilled without the Regions," indicated Eleni Marianou, Secretary General of the CPMR.
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission, Monique Pariat, Director for the Mediterranean and Black Sea at DG MARE, referred back to the state of the current crisis and the potential of the "Integrated Maritime Policy which should be further developed in this political and economic situation." Monique Pariat stressed the importance of the MAREMED project, "which will serve as a source of inspiration to us for the future and will help the Commission and Member States to identify the issues and challenges for implementing the next programming period for 2014-2020."
On behalf of the Dubrovnik-Neretva Region speech had Mr. Ivo Klaic, senior advisor and specialist for maritime public domain. This conference also saw the solemn signing of the Bologna Charter approved in September 2012, which is the result of productive work between different maritime administrations that are partners in European cooperation projects.
On the first day of the study tour delegation visited the town of Roeselare in Flanders and private company for Waste Management "Vanheede Environmeng Group". After Roeselare, the groupe visited a city of Kortrijk, where is a public company for waste management "IMOG". The aim was to visit incinerator waste and recycling centers, compare the ways and methods of operations between IMOG - as a public company and Vanheede - as a private company.
The next day, the group continued to meet with the Flemish waste management in Bertem, a small town near the university town of Leuven, near the Brussels. There is company "Ecowerf", which is like Imog, a public company, owned by several municipalities. Ecowerf main activity is processing of organic waste and the production of high quality compost.
Last day of the study tour delegation visited the Francophone part of Belgium, Wallonia. Visit was organized with the cooperation with the office of the programs of the European Union, "AWEX". In Liege the delegation visited "UVELIA" incinerators and drive to convert waste materials into energy and "INTRADEL" - Walloon Agency for Waste Management. After that, the delegation visited Teneville town, where is the Walloon Agency for decontamination of industrial zones "SPAQI", which is particularly interesting for the delegation of Karlovac County, because of the concentration of industry in the area of Karlovac. The last item in Wallonia study tour was a visit to the park for sustainable development "IDELUX" organized intercommunal agency in Wallonia, where they presented various projects of sustainable development.
Within the ambit of the European Year of Citizens (2013), they explored how the economic, social and civic dimensions of EU citizenship can be mutually reinforcing and meet the public's expectations in a way that reflects the values and goals of the European project.
The Civil Society Day has addressed key issues of active and participatory citizenship against the backdrop of a major financial, economic and social crisis that is in essence undermining democratic processes and challenging the very legitimacy of institutions and public policy at both national and European level.
It is our belief that European citizenship can best be conceived and exercised if it is intrinsically linked to the economic, social and civic life of the European venture and the policies that underpin it. The aim of the event was also to reflect the great variety of forms of expression and commitment across Europe that demonstrates the true meaning of European citizenship.
The annual Civil Society Day is a major EESC initiative, bringing together key players in European and national civil society organisations, business leaders and entrepreneurs, academics, EU policy- and decision-makers and interested media. It provides a forum for dialogue on issues that matter to civil society stakeholders at European level.
It is an opportunity to consider the place and the role of organised civil society within a more participatory democratic set-up and what it can do to help build a European Union in which people can take a more active part in shaping EU policies.
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