EU policy for the Citizens' Union
The Citizens' Union encompasses horizontal issues aimed at strengthening the social and socio-economic aspects of EU citizens where the EU does not has the right to decide on the national legislation.
For the EU institutions, it is important to involve EU citizens in politics, secure political participation and promote an European identity. Through the Conference on the Future of the EU, which is scheduled to start the 9th of May 2020 and run for two years, the EU will establish a structured dialogue with EU citizens on the future of the EU. Something previously reserved only for the EU institutions.
EU's commitment to social issues was demonstrated 2017 when the European Pillar of Social Rights was established. It is the basis for EU's future work for a more socioeconomically inclusive union and so far a number of proposals and directives have been adopted in the area of labor law during 2018 and 2019 to be implemented in the member states. The social dimension of the EU is a priority issue for the new EU Commission for 2020. An action plan for the full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights is expected to be presented in early 2021.
For the first time in EU's history, a Commissioner for Gender Equality and Equality has been appointed, Helena Dalli from Malta. Work is planned on gender-based violence, a gender equality package with a new European equality strategy and binding measures for wage transparency, a new anti-discrimination legislation and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
EU's goal in the context of public health is to increase the years with a healthy life of each EU citizen. The new EU Commission plans to secure Europe's access to affordable medicines, exploit the potential of e-health and promote health data, implement the EU's cross-sectoral plan against antibiotic resistance, fight against vaccination skepticism and develop an European plan to fight cancer.
The Swedish Commissioner Ylva Johansson will lead the work within migration which is a priority issue for the Commission for 2020 and the goal is to develop a new migration and asylum pact between the member states. From a regional perspective, it is important that funds from the Asylum and Migration Fund, AMF, reach the regional level for work with the reception or integration of new asylum seekers.
The EU Agenda for Culture sheds light on the power of culture for social cohesion, the importance of participation in cultural life, the movement of artists and the promotion of cultural heritage in the Union. In 2019, the Commission's Cultural Work Plan 2019-2022 was launched. Promoting Europe's cultural heritage and tourism is important to the EU in order to create more jobs, preserve the cultural diversity of the member states and at the same time strengthen citizens' perception of an European culture.
North Sweden European Office and the citizens' EU
North Sweden monitors these issues which are not developed through legislative processes in Brussels, but where marketing and influence can be carried out through activities and other initiatives in the Brussels arena.
North Sweden has a dialogue with the region's stakeholders in cultural and creative industries, public health and tourism with the aim of supporting the region in put forward and strengthening the knowledge of northern Sweden's attractive life environments. North Sweden monitors relevant sector programs and can provide support to stakeholders to increase participation in the EU's various platforms and activities. North Sweden is active in various networks with the aim of gathering information from the EU institutions in interaction with other European regions and participates in events to highlight the region's interests, activities and stakeholders.
The citizens' EU in Northern Sweden
Northern Sweden has sustainable social and cultural industries important for the regional development. Thanks to regional efforts and the financial support of regional structure fonds, these industries have grown and shown economic and social added value for the entire Sweden. It is positive that the turism industry is steadily increasing and that food tourism has become a popular in the region. Cultural heritage has a high value and cultural tourism has enormous potential in the region.
Within public health, the region has since many years developed innovative solutions due to a lack of skills, long distances and the geographical location. Region Norrbotten is a so-called Reference site within the European Commission's network for active and healthy aging and is thus an important source of inspiration for the entire EU in the work with digital solutions and e-health.
The work with equality between men and woman is important in northern Sweden and something that the regions are working on. It will be interesting to see what the Commission will deliver in the planned gender equality package and what northern Sweden can contribute with to EU:s work.
Sweden's indigenous people the Sami has an important voice in Arctic politics in the EU arena, and it is important for North Sweden that Sami representatives are included at Arctic events in Brussels. The OECD has published a study in 2019 on the Sami population's opportunities to develop Sami industries as part of the regional development. One of the highlights in the study is that the Sami people should be included more in regional and national strategies.
According to several EU reports, citizens of northern Sweden have a high quality of life, something which is important to bring forward in the EU context. This in relation to the high social development in northern Sweden, for example Umeå's participation in the European Commission's development of a Social Progress Index 2019, strengthen the ambassadorship at North Sweden in the meeting with European colleagues on the Brussels arena.