French Red Cross priorities for the French Council Presidency
With France currently holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, the French Red Cross has mobilised to influence the French Presidency’s priorities and share the views and expertise of Red Cross societies at EU level. Among others, the French Red Cross has issued a position paper highlighting its recommendations across four priority issues: youth engagement, social economy, homelessness and crisis response.
“We want to bring these essential matters into the public debate and for public policies to take up our proposals. The European Union will only be strong if these priority issues are tackled, such as the fight against extreme poverty,” stresses Jean-Christophe Combe, director general of the French Red Cross.
Strengthen the engagement and mobility of young people in the European debate and space
The Covid-19 crisis has particularly affected young people and widened inequalities at all levels. However, young people across Europe demonstrate a strong desire to engage with their communities and society at large. It is crucial to hear, encourage, support and prepare young people to fulfil this commitment at national and European levels. Each young person should be allowed to build their own civic engagement journey and to better understand and enact their rights. Exchanges of experiences and views among young Europeans should be facilitated and training oportunties should be supported, recognising the educational role played by civil society organisations.
Advance the social economy in the EU
Social economy actors have played a decisive role during the pandemic, showing their adaptability and responsiveness. Recognising and amplifying the sector’s in global recovery efforts is therefore necessary. By their nature, National Red Cross Societies in the EU participate in the development of the European social economy. The EU’s definition of social economy must recognise the special role of civil society organisations, while offering Member States an inspiring framework to progress the social economy across the Union. Hybridisation and partnerships should to be encouraged and social impact must be a priority.
Make the fight against homelessness one of the EU’s priorities
Once again, vulnerable and isolated people have been the first exposed and worst affected during the COVID-19 crisis. With the Lisbon Declaration of June 2021, Member States committed to work to end homelessness by 2030. The fight against homelessness must remain a priority mission at national and EU levels. Monitoring of social needs on the ground should be strengthened and serve as the basis for all actions. Unconditional shelter and the right to housing are essential principles that should be implemented effectively.
A better prepared Europe to face future crises
As members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the largest international humanitarian network in the world, the French Red Cross and other European Red Cross societies are mobilised to strengthen prevention, preparedness and response to European and international crises. The EU’s commitment to crisis response must be pursued through an approach of preparation, protection and recovery, including by investing in collective preparedness for the impacts of climate change.
In addition to these recommendations based on the observations and experiences of staff and volunteers on the ground, The French Red Cross is organising and participating in major events sponsored by the Presidency. For example, the “Converging solutions: combatting homelessness in Europe” conference held on 8 February, the European Humanitarian Forum in March, or the GENies project’s final conference, which will gather young people from 14 European countries in Bordeaux in mid-April. The French Red Cross will also organise several workshops during the social economy event organised by the French Presidency in Strasbourg in May.
Furthermore, 10 young ambassadors involved in different aspects of French Red Cross work and activities participate actively in French Presidency events by voicing their proposals and contributing to building the future of Europe. At the Africa-Europe week, they discussed the engagement of young people, sharing their experiences and priorities in relation to the new Africa-EU partnership.
For National Red Cross Societies in the EU, the Presidency represents an important opportunity to highlight key concerns with leaders and help claim civil society's space in national and European debates and decisions. In the 18-months of the new trio Presidency that will see France, Czech Republic and Sweden chairing the EU Council until June 2023, French Red Cross, the Czech Red Cross and the Swedish Red Cross are working together to draw attention to the needs of the most vulnerable people on the EU stage.
“The French Presidency of the Council of the EU is an opportunity for us to make our voices heard on issues that concern us closely. We have the responsibility of passing on concrete ideas and proposals on behalf of the 27 National Red Cross Societies in the EU,” says Mr Combe.
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