Democracy in Europe: where do we stand?
Is European democracy in crisis? Who sets the agenda in the light of the current economic dire straits? And how do we reach legitimate decisions? The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) invited representatives of civil society to discuss the status of democracy in the EU at Civil Society Day.
Conny Reuter, President of Social Platform, stepped up for more direct communication with local and grass roots levels: "We are at the tip of the ice berg, screening policy and lobbying at EU level. At the same time, we need to translate what we do to the local level", he said. "People want to know what the EU is doing for them. As civil society organisations, we need credibility on the political level, and to justify to our constituencies what we are proposing."
In the panel discussion with Isabelle Durant, Vice President of the European Parliament; Katsuji Imata, Acting Secretary General of the World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS); and Luca Jahier, president of the EESC Various Interests Group, Conny Reuter agreed that new structures enhancing citizen participation would have to be put in place to overcome the current crisis of representative democracy in the EU: non-governmental organisations, too, would have to look at the way they work and connect. He underlined, however, that one model would not fit all sizes and called on all stakeholders to look at how they could contribute to having a more pan-European debate with the citizens of the EU.