Civil Society

To achieve political progress in a modern and democratic society, it is vital to have the support of active and committed citizens and their organisations.

With the growth of globalisation, power can seem to be more and more distant from individuals. So enabling people at the grass roots to take an active role in policy-shaping and decision-making is key to the democratic legitimacy of public institutions and their work. Policies will be more successful if they are based on consensus, and work in the general interest.

The current challenges facing the EU, and their growing complexity, mean that the consent of civil society organisations is more important than ever. The experience and specialised knowledge they embody can make political decision-making better and more credible. This helps the wider public to understand and engage with decisions, and therefore to implement them more effectively.

The EESC is the ideal forum at EU level for representing civil society organisations across Europe, putting forward their views and feeding information back to them. We act as a vital bridge between the EU and civil society, getting people more closely involved in the European venture.

Over the past ten years or so, we have made changes to ensure we represent the widest possible range of civil society organisations, and to strengthen cooperation with them. They have become increasingly involved in our work through hearings, conferences, seminars, information meetings, debates, and other channels.

We took a further step towards stronger and more structured cooperation with European civil society organisations and networks by deciding, in February 2004, to set up a Liaison Group. This functions as both a communication channel and a forum for dialogue, enabling us to be more effective as intermediaries between the EU institutions and civil society, and permitting organisations to cooperate better on matters of common interest.

Our role as the institutional representative, at European level, of organised civil society, was strengthened by the Nice Treaty, and the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force on 1 December 2009. Article 11 in particular offers scope for a genuine structured civil dialogue at European level, alongside the political dialogue between the EU and its Member States and social dialogue with the social partners.

In partnership with other institutions, we aim to be even more active in the future in developing participatory democracy and civil dialogue at EU level.

For more information, contact Pierluigi Brombo:

Tel.: +32 2 546.97.18
Fax: +32 2 546.94.69
E-mail: Pierluigi Brombo

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  • 25 stories told by 25 active citizens

    • 11 Feb 2013
      A commitment to make life better

      “In Germany we have lots of experience of the breakdown of the German Democratic Republic, and all the trouble that it brought. I tried to apply that experience to the process of enlargement, together with colleagues from the newer Member States.”
      He argues that promoting European unity and solidarity is particularly relevant to German citizens. “Germany caused a lot of problems and suffering in the rest of Europe during World War II,” he explains. “That is not forgotten. We still have an open commitment to fulfil.”

  • Blog

    • 15 Nov 2013
      Energy in citizens hands - Considerations after a week in Warsaw

      After this week at the COP19 I go home with some optimism because there still remains the possibility that politicians are less important than they may believe. Perhaps something different is evolving on a parallel track, something which later actually could change the world for the better.

  • Blog - EESC go to Durban

    • 9 Dec 2011
      Good-bye Durban (being optimistic)
      Head of the EESC delegation, hard at work

      The Durban-negotiations may end up with concrete measures to fight climate change, or maybe Roadmaps for individual countries, or with improvements of the Climate Fund - or with just diplomatic talk and no concrete results. The final results will only be known when we are on the plane, going back.

  • Blogging from Doha

    • 10 Dec 2012
      Thoughts after Doha 2012

      In this post, Ms Slavova gives us two perspectives of the outcome of the Climate Change Conference: the disappointment of environmental advocates, but also the significant steps achieved in Doha.

  • On the road to Paris - EESC blog from Lima

    • 11 Dec 2014
      Leadership in climate protection technologies: Europe must not rest on its laurels

      <p>Whether there is no doubt about the fact that Europe strongly supports climate protection. Here in Lima It is very clear that the global race for innovative future markets has started. And with all respect for its achievements so far, Europe must not rest on its laurels.</p>
      <p>All over the world, so-called &ldquo;risk capital&rdquo; is being mobilised to develop innovative, climate-friendly products and processes. However, particularly in Europe, many are obstructing the absolutely necessary rapid and decisive structural change. Politicians still yield to lobbying pressures from industries which clearly have no future in their present form.</p>

  • Staffan Nilsson's Comment (former EESC President 2010-2013)

    • 12 Apr 2013
      Citizens' initiative- have you signed up to it?

      For the past year Europeans have been able to exercise a new EU right: the right to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate, on condition that the initiative is backed by at least one million citizens from seven EU Member States. The challenges and the struggles which initiators face (the online signature collection system, data protection, language barriers and different national verification requirements) are symptomatic of the state of European integration. Some may disagree, but I think more integration makes for a more democratic EU. The further the EU moves towards integration, the easier it will be to get such transnational initiatives off the ground. The European citizens' initiative (ECI) is an ideal adjunct to – and indeed a consolidation of – the EU's system of representative governance. So have you signed up to any yet? Take a look at the list of all citizens' initiatives registered here.

  • The President's blog


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