For the European Social NGOs, the publication of the Green Paper on European Social Policy in November 1993 was a significant development, as it was the first official document which deals explicitly with this matter and which also aims to establish a dialogue with NGOs. A group of concerned NGOs worked together to organise an NGO Forum to discuss the Green Paper in April 1994. This co-operation continued on an informal basis, and gave rise to common positions on the proposal for a European Social Policy Forum, and on the medium-term Social Action Programme 1995-1997.
The European Social NGOs decided to build upon these contacts in order to develop a more permanent framework for co-operation. The main aim was to allow the NGO sector to establish a broader and on-going dialogue with the European institutions on questions of social policy, which would complement the sector specific consultations, which remain essential. It is in this context that the Platform of European Social NGOs was established.
Social Platform was established in 1995 and brings together around forty European non-governmental organisations, federations and networks which are working to build an inclusive society and promote the social dimension of the European Union.
The members of Social Platform represent thousands of organisations, associations and voluntary groups at local, regional, national and European level representing the interests of a wide range of civil society. These include organisations of women, older people, people with disabilities, people who are unemployed, people affected by poverty, gays and lesbians, young people, children and families. Member organisations also include those campaigning on issues such as social justice, homelessness, life-long learning, health and reproductive rights and racism.
Social Platform channels the concerns of European citizens who have come together in these organisations throughout the Union on issues of common interest. It also ensures a wide circulation of information on EU activities and policies to its members at the national level.
The members of Social Platform insist that NGOs have a key role to play in promoting an equitable society based on the protection and advancement of human rights and the participation of all. NGOs must become legitimate partners in the public debate on the orientation of European society. It is with this in mind that Social Platform seeks to develop and strengthen a civil dialogue between European Social NGOs and the institutions of the European Union.