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The European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) held a seminar in October, 2001, entitled ?The 3C s of European Governance - Part 2?, in order to resolve questions like: How the EU should relate to protesters ? What the relationship should be between the Convention on the future of Europe and civil society? How to define European Governance to include Civil Society?

The policy research papers resulting from such introspection were not only added to the consultative process but ECAS believes provide concrete answers to the questions themselves.

The Research Papers respectively entitled “Listening to Civil society Communication between the EU and the Citizen; The Commission's role as guardian of the Treaty” can be consulted in full on the internet: www.ecas.org.

ECAS recommends an open non-institutional approach to civil society. The White Paper on European Governance proposes minimum standards of consultation for all NGOs and special partnership arrangements for certain European associations regarded as particularly representative.

This well ordered bureaucratic approach contained in the White Paper is rightly rejected by the European Parliament. In practice, the EU must remain open to all citizens and NGOs wishing to express their views and not just an organised civil society of Brussels insiders.

ECAS argues for a compact or framework agreement between the EU Institutions and NGOs clarifying that if the Commission had considered this proposal earlier, the White paper would not have run into such difficulties.

- Compacts avoid the pitfalls of accreditation schemes and are open to all.
- They are adaptable to different sectors and geographical levels of operation.
- Compacts are not legally binding and are not threatening to either side.
- They do however amount to a series of pledges under the control of the Parliament.
- Compacts have spread from the UK to France, Hungary, Croatia and Canada, for example.

Participants of the ECAS seminar on “The 3Cs of European Governance - Part 2” were not convinced that the Economic and Social Committee could become a forum for civil society, since its members are appointed by governments and its composition makes it more about social than civil dialogue.

For more details please contact: www.ecas.org

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