When it comes to introducing mechanisms for a more participatory democracy, European associations and NGOs are key actors to making citizens’ voices heard and bringing them closer to Europe. In addition to their central social and economic functions, associations play a significant civic role and actively contribute to political rehabilitation.
Moreover, EU institutions and Member States are now aware that involving more concretely citizens in European integration process is necessary. Civil society’s participation in policy-shaping and decision-making strengthens the legitimacy of public institutions, of their work and activities.
Within the context of European institutions renewal and with EU’s current challenges concerning the fight against poverty and social exclusion, the French association “La Ligue de l’Enseignement”, together with 7 other associations and NGOs from 7 EU countries, decided to organize a citizens’ consultation by focusing on the following topic: "Social Europe as seen by citizens: what tools to fight against inequalities and social exclusion?”
This consultation aimed at promoting exchanges and debates in order to bring citizens closer to European issues and to European integration process:
- by tackling key issues relating to active European citizenship such as fundamental rights, social integration and citizens’ participation to local life and the importance of associative work practices;
- by informing and encouraging the debate on current topics such as the Lisbon Strategy after 2010 and the new European social agenda, the European immigration policy
- by promoting civic engagement as well as the different tools that exist at the European level and encourage an important participation of citizens’ and civil society organisations’ in the European integration process.
The project was implemented in the framework of “Europe for Citizens”, ACTION 1: MEASURE 2.1.