EU decides “in absentia” of civil society

Civil Society Day 2013 at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels (EESC photographic library 6-3-2013).

Civil Society Day 2013 at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels (EESC photographic library, 6-3-2013).

The European Economic and Social Committee and other European civil society organisations and networks organised this year’s Civil Society Day on Wednesday 6 March at the EESC premises in Brussels. The main and burning conclusion from this event was that the EU decision-making procedures are taking place “in absentia” of any legitimisation by civil society representatives, who could transfer authentically the will of people, who sweat in the real economy. It’s impossible to set effective and functional rules on the economy, in a democratic vacuum. It never worked in history nor will it now. You hear that Mr Rehn?

According to organisers of this important event that unfortunately didn’t attract the attention of major media, more than, “250 civil society representatives gathered in Brussels to seek ways in which the young and old in Europe could gain better knowledge of their EU rights and become involved in the democratic life of the Union. Participants called on the EU institutions to stop putting procedures before results and involve citizens in actions and campaigns that affect them directly”. Obviously, the people who gathered there were not only interested in the way the EU is influencing their economic daily lives. They have also a strong interest on the way this influence is decided upon.

Democratic legitimisation

In short, democracy was their main concern. This is an instinctive reaction by the average European citizen to what is happening today in the Old Continent. People know deep in their minds that if democracy is functioning well, their personal economic affairs would depend mainly on their own efforts and nobody would dare taking away from them what is rightfully theirs. In short, they know that democracy guarantees everybody the freedom to control one’s own personal economic status and prospects. The question is then do Europeans have any reason to worry for that? Unfortunately, it seems they have.

At least, this is what the more than 250 Europeans, who authentically represent the civil society of the EU, think. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain why in their conclusions, while addressing themselves to the EU authorities, they proclaimed that, “If the EU wants to regain the trust of its citizens and continue to operate, then all governments, EU leaders and civil society stakeholders must make the case for EU reform”. This expression, “if the EU wants to regain…” is an indirect but very clear observation, that presently the EU has lost the trust of the civil society. Unfortunately, this is what the Sting has also concluded during the few months of its existence.

This civil society people gathering in its final communique also stressed that, “European leaders can no longer rely solely on elected politicians to pass on messages from their citizens. They also need civil society to ensure that their policies are more firmly rooted in citizens’ concerns, and to make their decisions more legitimate. Civil society represents millions of Europeans in all walks of life”. Why is that so? Aren’t politicians voted by people?

Obviously,the answer to this question is a straight yes. But politicians do not appear from parthenogenesis. They are being promoted by the party and the wider political, business and media “system”. That is why the civil society representatives underline the need, for “civil society to ensure that their policies are more firmly rooted in citizens’ concerns”.

The opposite direction

It is well established then that, in order to secure a more legitimised system of EU decision-making, civil society representatives need to play an enhanced role. This issue becomes every day even more urgent, because the “economic governance” of the Union has been lately bestowed, to non-elected decision makers in the Commission and the European Central Bank. By the same token, the latest developments in Brussels and Frankfurt are infallible witnesses that the democratic legitimisation of strategic economic policies is non-existent or of play a minor role.

The implication of the European Parliament in the adoption of important measures is restricted, by the very nature of this body. No real civil society implication is foreseen in the Brussels and Frankfurt decision-making procedures. The EESC is a very weak voice not affecting the main decision taking procedures, and unfortunately ,there is evidence indicating that this tendency is not changing. On the contrary, democratic legitimisation is increasingly chased away from where it counts.

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