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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