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Organised Civil Society: Role and Tasks in an Enlarged European Union


European Parliament: Vice-President Gerard Onesta, Citizens' Agora ... Strong scrutiny and evaluation: European Parliament to play a role. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Organised Civil Society: Role and Tasks in an Enlarged European Union

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 28-30 November 2007

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

Some Basic Facts about NCVO
  • Established in 1919
  • England wide remit
  • 5400 member organisations
  • c. 120 staff
  • 14 million approx. income

UK Civil Society Government
  • Relationship is defined by the Compact (see next
  • 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.

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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
  • Developed since 2005 with European Council for
    Non-Profit Organisations (CEDAG) in Brussels
  • Funding from European Commission 2006-2007 under
    Active citizenship
  • Recent seminar - consolidation of autonomous
    structure with Working Group, comprising of NCVO,
    NICVA, SOS Malta Social Forum (Sweden)

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

Building the European Network
  • International Officers from UK member
  • 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

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

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
  • Different expectations of the relationship
  • Lack of faith in the Minimum Standards of
    Consultation by civil society

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

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

Some Useful Links
  • http//