Civil dialogue for better regulation

Involving civil society organisations (CSOs) in the decision-making process is necessary for better regulation at EU and national level. This is what we came to advocate for last week (2-3 March) at the NGO forum in Riga, hosted by the Latvian presidency of the EU. A key objective of the Forum was to receive input on a Roadmap for the implementation of Article 11 of the Treaty on civil dialogue, which has been developed by members of the Liaison Group of the European Economic and Social Committee.

The involvement of CSOs in the decision-making process is crucial for the improvement of policies. If CSOs of people with disabilities had never come together to challenge existing disability policies, we would have not seen the ratification of the UN convention of the rights of people with disabilities by the EU, which brought a radical change in the way policies are framed and implemented. Without CSOs we would not have gotten a revision of the EU maternity directive that articulates the rights of the child, the different situations of pregnant women or the inclusion of paternity leave. Without CSOs we would not have a voice specifically for those experiencing poverty, homelessness, discrimination, social exclusion, and those asking for better legislation and policies to improve their lives.

A structural way to ensure that these voices are taken into account is the establishment of a civil dialogue between EU decision-makers and European and national CSOs. But we shall make no mistake: civil dialogue is not an end in itself, it is only a conduit that enables interactions between decision-makers and associations. This conduit will improve our impact on EU decisions that affect those who are in the most vulnerable situations in Europe. Our impact will be results-oriented: we want a transparent decision-making process, and we expect our recommendations to be taken into account in the drafting, implementing and evaluation of legislation and policies enacted at EU level. We also expect accountability of decision-makers regarding the proposals we put on the table. Why are they not taken on board, or how are they going to be included?

Ultimately we want to see the results of the advocacy actions we lead towards policy makers; not for us, but for the citizens who are affected by EU policies. It would not only improve their lives, but it would also ensure better regulation at EU level. We have a long way to go before there is an inter-institutional agreement that enshrines civil dialogue in the EU decision-making process, and until then we will continue our work. Next week we will meet with Vice-President of the Europe Commission Valdis Dombrovkis and Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, where we hope to pave the way for our own civil dialogue with the Commission towards achieving the goals of our strategic orientation and work programme 2015.

Let’s engage!

Pierre Baussand, Director