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Organised Civil Society: Role and Tasks in an Enlarged European Union Can Organised Civil Society play a role in effective communication between EU institutions.

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Presentation on theme: "Organised Civil Society: Role and Tasks in an Enlarged European Union Can Organised Civil Society play a role in effective communication between EU institutions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Organised Civil Society: Role and Tasks in an Enlarged European Union Can Organised Civil Society play a role in effective communication between EU institutions & European Citizens? Oliver Henman Palermo November 2007

2 Introduction What is NCVO? Relationship with UK government and The Compact Missing Link Project Opportunity for European-level Compact or Concordat?

3 Some Basic Facts about NCVO Established in 1919 England wide remit member organisations c. 120 staff £14 million approx. income

4 UK Civil Society & Government Relationship is defined by the Compact (see next section) Charity Commission regulates organisations with charitable status in England and Wales. It is independent of government but responsible to it. Well-established culture of consultation on policy development.

5 The Compact: Conquests Compact agreed in 1998, sets out the relationship between government and the voluntary sector; defining role and responsibility of each side Broad consultation across the sector - widespread ownership of the project Agreed across Government, not just one department Cross-party support, includes opposition parties so policy is embedded Includes mechanism for measuring effectiveness Clearly established right for organisations to campaign even if in receipt of government funding

6 The Compact: structure Compact Voice This is the body that represents the voluntary sector to government on the Compact; including Local Compact Voice and new National Compact Voice Network Compact Advocacy NCVO run this service to campaign for civil society groups that suffer from a Compact breach, generally most cases relate to the funding or consultation Codes of Good Practice Compact Commissioner Neutral organisation that oversees the Compact as an independent body to ensure that the Compact is being upheld

7 The Compact Codes of Practice Funding and Procurement Consultation and Policy Appraisal Volunteering Community Groups Black and Ethnic Minority Groups

8 Key learning Two-way relationship - ’win-win’ Get wide political support Make it a document that can grow Ensure local and international connection Make it specific!

9 EU Civil Society 1: Introduction NGOs and voluntary organisations are fundamental to the development of a democratic and socially inclusive society and to an open, transparent and democratic EU The institutions of the EU increasingly recognise the important role played by civil society organisations in informing and implementing EU policy in key areas that affect EU citizens

10 EU Civil Society 2: European Institutions Citizen engagement and the participation of civil society organisations is a growing priority, as set out in the new EU Reform Treaty: ‘Title II: Provisions on Democratic Principles’ Article 8a, 3. Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen Article 8b, 2. The institutions [of the EU] shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society This article 8b, also includes the new tool of Citizens’ Initiative whereby 1 million citizens may put an issue ont eh agenda of the European Commission

11 EU Civil Society 3: European Voluntary Sector NGOs and voluntary organisations, for their part, must guarantee their legitimacy and accountability through high standards of conduct and must ensure that their beneficiaries, members, and supporters are informed and consulted on issues which affect them under a Governance Code of core principles The independence of NGOs and voluntary organisations, and their right to criticize and campaign on EU policy and legislation must be safeguarded, irrespective of whether organisations are in receipt of EU funding

12 Missing Link Project Network of national platforms across Europe, this includes at least one prospective member in each member state, such as CNVOS (Slovenia) and NENO (Estonia) Developed since 2005 with European Council for Non- Profit Organisations (CEDAG) in Brussels Funding from European Commission under ‘Active citizenship’ Recent seminar - consolidation of autonomous structure with Working Group, comprising of NCVO, NICVA, SOS Malta & Social Forum (Sweden)

13 Some Key Links European Commissioner for Communications Margot Wallstrom: Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue & Debate European Parliament: Vice-President Gerard Onesta, Citizens’ Agora European Economic & Social Committee: 3 rd Group Partnerships across EU and beyond to neighbouring countries, eg. Social Platform

14 Building the European Network International Officers from UK member organisations Consolidate partners in every EU country Shared best practice across organisations New independent funding stream to encourage autonomy and set out sustainable plan EU Treaty consultation Europe-wide civil society Compact and good governance principles Wider international partnerships, eg. Civicus

15 Road Towards a European Compact/Concordat? Proposal for a Compact-style agreement for the EU Institutions and NGOs.

16 Why do we need a Compact? Complex relationship between civil society and the European institutions –Not just consultation, not just funding No all-encompassing memorandum of understanding exists – Different expectations of the relationship Lack of faith in the Minimum Standards of Consultation by civil society

17 What a Compact would offer Many non-Brussels based NGOs feel excluded from consultation opportunities Widely differing levels of agreement and standards of engagement across EU Diverse attitudes to dialogue and communication from the European institutions: Parliament; Commission and associated Committees

18 Key Principles of Compact Independence to campaign irrespective of funding. Consultation on all policy over 12 weeks minimum period Communication rules to be put in place (regarding letters s etc) Strong scrutiny and evaluation: European Parliament to play a role. Transparency and accountability of civil society organisations Agreement to give proper notice of funding decisions and full cost recovery

19 Some Useful Links vol.org.uk/thecompact.asp


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