A la suite de la publication du rapport annuel "European Neighborhood Policy Progress Reports" de 2014, les associations Solidar et Arab NGO Network for Developement (ANND) ont publié un communiqué pour saluer la progression dans la vision que l’Union européenne a du monde arabe
Chaque année, l’Union européenne publie un rapport sur l’évolution de ses relations avec les pays voisins et celui de 2014 est paru le 27 mars dernier. Les associations Solidar et ANND (Arab NGO Network for Developement) ont publié le communiqué qui suit, afin de saluer les orientations qui ont été prises, notamment vis-à-vis du monde arabe.
"EUROPE’S APPROACH TOWARDS ARAB STATES : WORK IN PROGRESS
SOLIDAR and the Arab Network for Development (ANND) welcome the launch of the European Neighborhood Policy Progress Reports 2014 on Thursday 27 March and in particular the words of EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle “… Popular aspirations for a better life and for enjoying basic human rights and fundamental freedoms remain strong [in the Middle East and North Africa]. (…) the EU has a special responsibility to support those partners that are engaged in the difficult and demanding path of transition towards democracy and more inclusive societies. By engaging directly with people (…) and in addition supporting civil society, EU policy can act as a catalyst in this process.”
The 2014 Progress Reports recognize the challenges identified by SOLIDAR and ANND.
1. Freedom of association and peaceful assembly
The Regional report highlights that conditions under which CSOs can operate independently vary significantly throughout the region as change in the legal and political regulatory frameworks in individual countries has been uneven. However, it recognizes the concerns that the space for civil society is shrinking in some countries in the region. Cooperation on the development of civil society should be boosted in order to strengthen organisations, which promote human rights and fundamental values. In the field of democracy and human rights, the remaining challenges associated with transition processes are constitutional and institutional reforms, transitional justice, strengthening the role of civil society and securing human rights.
Read the SOLIDAR report on Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa and the ANND toolkit about the freedom of Association in the Arab region. These reports identified, in line with the ENP 2014 Progress Reports, the following key recommendations :
· Enable the spread of a ‘culture of citizenship’ based on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
· Ensure that access to information is enhanced and contribute towards creating a more pluralistic society, which will require new regulatory frameworks for the media and civil society.
· Provide an arena for multi-stakeholder dialogue at regional and national levels, in order to ensure participatory decision making processes and create new democratic government structures.
· Encompass clear objectives for reforming legislation and policies, in consultation with social partners and social movements, taking into special consideration laws allowing for the development of an independent civil society
2. Social protection and decent work
In addition, the Regional report recognizes the current high unemployment rates, especially among the young population and identifies it as one of the main regional problems, alongside with a low level of participation by women, poverty and social exclusion. Partner governments could better define their economic policies and take more decisive action on economic and social reforms, as well as engage in consultation with the social partners. In addition the EU pledges to support partner governments in better defining their economic policies and taking more decisive action on sustainable economic and social reforms.
Read the SOLIDAR report on Social Protection and Decent Work in the Middle East and North Africa and the Arab Watch 2014 (to be released soon). These reports identified, in line with the ENP 2014 Progress Reports, the following key recommendations :
· Promote the respect for International labour standards, especially as the ratification rate of ILO conventions remains low in the region.
· Improve the quality of public health services, access to education services, access to basic social services, access to water and the quality and coverage of community services.
· Establish or strengthen income support mechanisms that pay special attention to the needs of the most excluded people and include a roadmap for a return to employment.
· Ensure the respect for the rule of law and transparency both in the government and in industry. The informal sector accounts for a large share of MENA workers, labour laws should be inclusive of all relevant work sectors and work inspections should be thorough.
Worth noting are the references in the Progress reports regarding the negotiations of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs). In order to tackle high levels of poverty, massive unemployment, wide-spread indecent work and persistent gender discrimination practices, countries need opportunities that enhance their productive capacities, enable sustainable socio-economic development and trade with the EU. It is of paramount importance that the DCFTAs do not limit the policy space of the Arab states and their ability to design and adopt policies based on the national priorities and contribute to this need by enabling industrial development and stimulating productive sectors, as well as contribute to decent work (creation), social protection and poverty eradication. Please read the summary of the dialogue organized by SOLIDAR and ANND here.
SOLIDAR and ANND intend to launch the second European Neighborhood Policy Monitoring Process between April and June, with the aim to deeper analyze the findings of this years’ progress reports."