The Spring Alliance is a movement created by three civil society organisations, the European Environmental Bureau, the European Trade Union Confederation and Social Platform, later also joined by Concord. Although formed and steered by these four organisations, the alliance is supported by a large network of organisations.

 

The Spring Alliance is a movement created by three civil society organisations, the European Environmental Bureau, the European Trade Union Confederation and Social Platform, later also joined by Concord. Although formed and steered by these four organisations, the alliance is supported by a large network of organisations.

The main aim of the Alliance is to try and influence the coming European Commission and Parliament's strategy for the next five years, aiming to steer away from the previous focus on growth and jobs and lean more towards 'people and planet' . Seas At Risk was one of the organisations feeding into this discussion.

This was the second conference (the first was held in January) and aimed to finalise the Alliance's manifesto.

It was of course very difficult to ensure that the voices of so many different organisations with differing priorities can agree on one document, which is quite long ; 90 bullet points on a vast number of issues, ranging from preserving ecosystems to economy and governance and improving democracy, to name but a few.

Michel Servoz, Secretary General of Direction D on Better Regulation and Co-ordination of the European Commission was the first speaker. He highlighted what were likely to be priority issues for the next President of the Commission.

* The economy and an exit strategy for the economic crisis was at the top of the list. He did point out that this should be a low carbon economy and hinted that the Commission were open to ideas on what measures and models might be needed to achieve this.

* 'Smart economy' ie one built on IT, knowledge and education/life long learning would be a priority because Europe was being outpaced and would soon not be able to compete with growing and developing regions.

* Protection of citizens and security, emphasis on JLS, fundamental rights and mutual recognition of justice.

* A new phase of globalisation and ensuring that Europe has a good working relationship with G20 partners would be a priority.


So not much in there on the environment! He did however say that now was a golden opportunity to influence the new Commission and that nothing was as yet set in stone. One marker to look out for would be the new President's speech to the European Parliament on 15th July and the consultation process in September and October on the Lisbon strategy would also give stakeholders a chance to try and influence the new Commission's work programme.

This followed an NGO panel discussion where there was debate on the content of the manifesto, whether the tone should be hardened to challenge the Commission, Council and Parliament more directly.

There was then a business panel discussion, where speakers from the business community were given the opportunity to give their opinion on the draft manifesto and whether it would influence.

They advised the alliance not to treat growth as a negative so as not to scare business away and not to set unrealistic targets as this would lead to loss of credibility. The also felt that economic evidence was needed to support arguments on chapter 13 which deals with how to put in place a new economic strategy. 90 points were seen as too much for business to sign up to - a broader 2 page document is needed to grab people's attention.

The afternoon session was split into two working groups - one on how to develop an outreach strategy for the manifesto and another to modify and alter the draft manifesto.

The Steering Committee will meet on 25th June to add all the changes made during the conference. Once this has been done they will disseminate the draft for a final check before finalising it.

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