Connecting Civil Society

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Connecting civil society

European Election Manifesto

European Network of National Associations

European Parliamentary election, 4 June 2009

The European Parliament elections in June 2009 will build on major changes over recent years. Membership of the EU has expanded to include 27 states with a population of over 400 million and a combined GDP greater than the USA . Given the challenging global economic situation, there is now a real opportunity for international partnerships to deliver for the citizens of Europe.

This manifesto draws together the key views of national civil society associations to promote a shared vision of the needs of voluntary, community and non-profit organisations across European nations. We believe it is crucial to strengthen the role of civil society and build better partnership working for the benefit of citizens and comm unities across Europe. We bring together the voice of civil society in each of our countries and these are our key shared recommendations to the new European Parliament and European Commission.


Shared Principles

  • Civil Society Charter - A framework agreement on the relationship between civil society and the institutions of the EU to build a two way agreement as a basis for constructive partnership.
  • Participation of civil society in European decision-making - Transparent dialogue between the EU institutions and civil society organisations to build a more open and accountable system of EU governance including participatory democracy, following the European Parliament’s AGORA.
  • Social Europe - The EU to continue to strengthen its social inclusion strategy and recognise the important role of social economy organisations to develop ways forward, particularly in the context of the current global financial crisis, including Social Services of General Interest (SSGI).
  • Funding - European institutions to develop clearer, more accessible funding and procurement guidelines for use at the EU and national level – this will allow all organisations, irrespective of size, to be reliably informed of the requirements of European funding so burdens are not excessive on smaller organisations.
  • Definition of Associations - Given the wide range of legal definitions and statutes across Europe, we call for a clarification on how we recognise associations in the voluntary and community sector across the EU.
  • Volunteering (European Year of Volunteering 2011) - We support the call by volunteering groups such as Volonteurope and the Centre for European Volunteering to set 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering. 10 years on from the UN Year of Volunteering, this will champion the vital role of volunteering in society.

Specific asks to Members of the European Parliament

  • A European Commissioner for Civil Society - A clear space for civil society in the EU on an inter-institutional basis with a clear budget from the European Commission
  • Civil society role expanded to include longer consultation processes into a full Charter for Civil Society
  • An inter-group on civil society
  • Healthcare rights - MEPs should protect patient safety and support best practice for healthcare workers.
  • Environment - MEPs should spearhead the EU’s commitment to sustainable development in all its policies. Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 40% by 2020 to avoid dangerous climate change. And the disintegration of our ecosystems should be reversed through ME Ps championing the EU target to halt the loss of nature – or ‘biodiversity’– by 2010. Furthermore, it is time to put a stop to EU subsidies that damage our environment such as many schemes under the Common Agricultural and Common Fisheries polices.
  • Development - The objectives of development cooperation as an independent policy within the EU should be recognised. This means a strong voice for development policy within the EU’s external relations, with a dedicated administrative structure responsible for formulation and implementation of EU development policy.
  • Human rights - There is an urgent need for the EU to live up to its human rights commitments, both at home and in its external policy, and ensure the ratification and implementation of relevant treaties.
  • Social enterprise - A recognition of the value and specificity of social enterprises and actors of social economy (regardless of their size) in the delivery of social services of general interest.

European Network of National Associations

The European Network of National Associations is a grouping of national umbrella organisations of civil society. This includes national cross -cutting organisations across the EU, including France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Cyprus and Malta.

Key event

Conference of European Network of National Associations

21 July, Brussels


Oliver Henman
National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Regent’s Wharf
8 All Saints Street
London N1 9RL
T: +44 20 7520 2550