For a Democratic Europe - Final report of the ‘Real Civil Society Democracy in Europe’ project

The final report of the Europe for Citizens project ‘Real Civil Society Democracy in Europe’ is now available here. This project was led by SOLIDAR Danish member Forum for International Cooperation (FIC) and included amongst project partner SOLIDAR, CSV (UK), La ligue de l’Enseignement (France) and partners CGIL (Italy) and IDEAS (Ireland). As accurately illustrated in the report, the objective of this project was to raise awareness in the public and political systems at national and European level about the value of an organised and systematic participatory model for involving civil society organisations in European policy making processes.

Despite the fact that the Treaty of Lisbon adopted in 2009 included a number of provisions to reinvigorate citizens’ participation in the functioning of the EU, we assist today in many Member States to a decrease of participation and trust in the European project by its citizens which takes shape as either a lack of participation and engagement or most worrying, as a rise of the radical, right- wing extremist, xenophobic, populist and anti-European movements. The last European Parliament elections held in May 2014 clearly showed this fact with still a too low degree of participation and an outcome that strengthened the Eurosceptic and nationalist groups in the European Parliament. In the light of these developments, this project report analyses the state of civil society involvement in democratic processes in the EU Member States and at EU level, point out deficits and areas for improvements, and recommends specific policies and a model for more real civil society engagement and democracy at the European and Member State level.

The report also includes specific recommendations developed by the project partners on how to make the consultation more participatory and how to strengthen a dialogue at Member State and EU level:

  • EU Institutions and Member States shall include CSOs as equal partners in the review and design of the consultation process.
  • Member States and EU Institutions shall pursue policies that generate sustainable and inclusive growth, and social investment, which ensure that CSOs have the capacity to engage in consultation, especially in times of austerity.
  • CSOs and European networks of CSOs shall better coordinate their policies at the local, regional, national and European level as well as to commit to internal democracy
  • A new umbrella platform for civil dialogue between EU institutions and civil society shall be set up.

SOLIDAR has been highly involved in the project activities and contributed to the development of final recommendations in line with our overall objective of restoring trust and credibility in the
capacity of democracy to find a solution towards tackling the most urgent social needs and unemployment within the EU. In particular SOLIDAR has been very active in supporting the implementation of the last recommendations mentioned above by contributing to the creation of the platform Civil Society Europe, a joint platform for facilitating interaction and exchange between the EU institutions and civil society organisations. We will continue to work for establishing Civil Society Europe as a permanent coordination body to represent the organised civil society organisations on European level.