The informal, round-table dialogue session with just 15 participants, allowed for a useful and dynamic exchange between top Commission officials and national NGO representatives on the approach and impact of EU economic policies. It was the first time such dialogue sessions with ECFIN have been directed at NGOs at the national level. Raquel Lucas, member of Commissioner’s Dombrovskis cabinet highlighted that the new Commission was keen to “work more for citizens, so that they have a better image of Europe. This means moving towards more balanced views on economic and social, at the same level. Strengthening social dialogue, is now a clear priority, and the new Commission wants to link more to civil society”.
Key discussion points focused on the social impact of economic policy and process of the European Semester, proposals for a fairer EMU, ideas for fairer tax reform, and social justice concerns around structural reforms.EAPN members welcomed the new initiative highlighting the importance of dialogue with civil society organisations working with people impacted by the policies, and actively trying to engage with the European Semester at national level. They underlined the need to counter the current negative perception of EU economic policy, strongly linked to the devastating social impact of austerity priorities being pursued. They called for Europe 2020 and the poverty target to be put firmly at the centre of the new Commission’s agenda, ensuring that economic policy actively contributed to social objectives and shared prosperity. EAPN supported proposals for an expansion of such dialogue at EU and at national level with organized civil society, as well as through more cross-sectoral debates involving broader alliances such as the European Semester Alliance.