Participatory Democracy: Organised Civil Society and the 'New' Dialogue
Federal Trust Constitutional Online Paper No. 09/04
8 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2004
Date Written: July 2004
The Chapter on Participatory Democracy in the draft Constitution is a novelty. Yet, civil dialogue between NGOs and the European institutions is not a new concept in the European model of democracy. In recent years the institutions, particularly the Commission and the European Parliament, have acknowledged that NGOs are a channel between citizens and the EU institutions and that the expertise and advice they are receiving from civil society organisations are invaluable and necessary for the design and implementation of many EU policies. Increasingly, channels were set up to ensure regular dialogue and a continual exchange of information. However, the implementation of article 46 raises some difficult questions about the precise structures to be set up, the conditions under which such dialogue can be conducted, and the nature and future of the dialogue partners. From the viewpoint of rights and value based NGO - such as environment, social, development, women, culture and human rights - this paper will critically assess the concept of civil dialogue, the history of interaction between NGOs and the institutions - including the Constitution process - and what direction article 46 would have to take to turn participatory democracy into a tenable concept.
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