IHEYO has called for the European Union to take action to support European civil society. An important step forward, in IHEYO’s view, would be the establishment of a statute for a European Association. IHEYO gives several reasons for formalising such a statute.
A statute is being proposed by several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Many organizations across Europe support this plan and have joined a campaign coordinated by the European Civic Forum, of which IHEYO is a member.
IHEYO invites like-minded organizations and individuals to sign a declaration; ask others to sign it; or send a letter to a European Member of Parliament. More information about the campaign is available at http://www.forumciviqueeuropeen.org.
The people of Europe are turning away from the European project. Through abstentions and protest votes, they are indicating their distance from the European Union and its Institutions. A new generation of women and men can not be satisfied with the argument that Europe delivered peace and prosperity. They are looking for a new narrative and a new democratic dialogue to re-engage with the vision of a new and enlarged Europe of the future.
Across the EU’s 25 countries, millions of European citizens are working in hundreds of thousands of NGOs and associations engaged in international development, culture, gender, education, social justice, anti racism, the environment, solidarity or sport, for a better world.
They offer a true education in citizenship and promote social cohesion and commitment. Distinct from and complementary to political and union organisations, associations and NGOs are mediators providing a place for individuals to come together freely and voluntarily, around shared endeavours.
NGOs and associations, as middlemen, are also a vital link between citizens and public authorities. Each a fundamental place of expression, they can all become places likely to restore civic aspirations in European citizens.
Participatory democracy, by being complementary to representative democracy, can create and increase a civic and popular ownership of the European project . The more citizens feel they have had a chance to contribute to the public debate, the more the decisions and proposals made by Member States and the European Union will be heard, understood and integrated.
Therefore, we, European citizens involved in associations and NGO’s from all European union countries ask to the Council, the European Commission and the Parliament to:
– strengthen the democratic infrastructure for an open and institutionalised debate in which associations and NGO’s, carrying European citizens’ word, play a fundamental role,
– establish a statute for a European association similar to the structure that has been created for European enterprises and European cooperatives. Such a European statute will acknowledge the critical role of associations’ and NGOs’ in European civil dialogue because of their civic and social functions,
– support European associations conforming to this statute, to organise meetings, exchanges and trans-national debates. Thus allowing millions of citizens to build a European political culture and therefore to feel more deeply involved in a more democratic construction of Europe, a Europe in which diversity will be an asset and not a problem.
European citizens have grown tired of a debate overly focused on the economy and growth which has come to dominate the European political discourse. Responsibility for the waning of the European idea is shared by many, however it is up to European leaders and decision makers to put in place a strategy for reviving democracy.
The European Union has invested a great deal of money building roads, bridges and other kinds of infrastructure. The time has come to pay the same kind of attention to building the basis for a more participatory European democracy.
We, European citizens involved with civil society organisations, by signing this declaration, show our determination to get involved, through the work of our associations and NGOs, in building a new democratic structure for a Europe which, must be social, cultural, civic, and sustainable, an example in terms of international solidarity and the aspiration to “live together” harmoniously.