This book argues that civil society, by which we mean associations, interest groups and the employers’and union organisations, is an essential pillar of democracy. During meetings with representatives of organised civil society, the writer has gathered a series of examples of how they have made their voices heard in the EU.
This report examines the extent to which European citizens engage in participatory
democracy, and the extent to which they believe that political decision-making can be
influenced through their own actions and through those of civil society organisations.
The EESC believes that there is much more to European citizenship, and that a political system such as the EU must cultivate and strengthen the political, social and cultural dimensions of the Union. If we want people to feel truly connected to Europe, we need to develop their ability to exercise political power ("power" in the sense of participation in governance). We can develop that ability by providing knowledge about the political system and using mechanisms that allow for participation from the bottom up.
We were all happy when the European Commission designated 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. Citizens play a central role in Europe’s future and integration. What could be more appropriate and timely to dedicate a European Year to them?
This conference is very timely; demographic trends pose major challenges to the labour market. It suffers from structural problems. Young people, in particular, find it difficult to gain a footing in the labour market, despite skills they have. It is not only the case in Europe. It is also a major problem in Tunisia, where the demographic trend is the opposite: it is a very young population with high skills and no jobs.
On the eve of the European Summit on 23 May, the President of the European Economic and Social Committee once again calls for leadership, clarity and resolve in order to ensure the future development of the European Union.
Civil Society Day at the EESC, Brussels
"From April 2012, European citizens will enjoy a new right, which will give them a stronger voice in EU affairs when the European Citizens’ Initiative enters into force. From that moment on, they will be able to express their demands in a new, unprecedented way. By collecting one million signatures across Europe, they can call upon the European Commission to propose or change European legislation. The European Economic and Social Committee has been an advocate of citizens’ rights to participate since the beginning of the European project.
The Workers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee believes this is an urgent need to deliver a clear message to EU institutions and Member States' leaders: the Group is firmly against Merkel-Sarkozy's proposals related only to a strengthening of the Stability and Growth Pact in the Lisbon Treaty. The resolution mentions the orientations that should be adopted and the measures that should be taken.