Main points of the EESC opinion:
The EESC welcomes the Green Paper as another step on the road towards European integration and it welcomes the opening of this debate. However, it regrets that the document provides insufficient information on existing coordination and cooperation activities and that it does not go sufficiently far in proposing areas for action.
The EESC considers that territorial cohesion must be based on a new contract with citizens and organised civil society, allowing interaction between bottom-up participatory procedures, also including civil dialogue, and EU initiatives.
As the individual and citizenship must be at the heart of Community policies and actions, the EESC stresses the implementation of the Charter of fundamental rights as an indispensable instrument of territorial cohesion. The EESC is an advocate of a European social model based on common European values and objectives which include economic development and social progress. Social policy and economic policy are interdependent and mutually reinforcing and they usually have a specific impact on the ground.
The EESC has an essential role to play in encouraging the greater involvement and participation of organised civil society in the European project and, in the case at hand, in facilitating the implementation of policies and actions which promote territorial cohesion. The EESC underlines that participatory democracy, based on representative associations and civil society and recognised as one of the Union's democratic principles, is an essential condition for the achievement of this goal.