The EHF took part by invitation in a Forum organised in November 2006 by the European Commission and the Vice President Margot Wallström, under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, in the framework of the consultation on the White Paper on a European Communication Policy.
EMPOWER brought together 300 senior representatives of civil society and NGOs from 25 Member States, Bulgaria, and Romania. The aim of the Forum was to provide the European Commission with concrete proposals on how to promote a European public space where citizens are better informed and engaged in EU policies and in the debate on the future of Europe.
The debate were articulated in plenary and parallel sessions, with the concluding remarks by Vice President Margot Wallström.
As follow up of EMPOWER, the European Commission undertook to publish on its website all the contributions presented in Bergamo and to take them into account when drafting the final report on the consultation, to be submitted to the European Parliament. [No relevant documents now appear on the EU website.]
Georges Liénard, the EHF general secretary, presented in the parallel session “Network Europe, connecting citizens to each others” a paper entitled “To promote a European public space“. It presented some considerations based on the EHF position on participative democracy, considering that participation of “representative” NGOs may be a tool for developing democracy in the EU. The main points in his paper can be summarised in five proposals.
- the need for an European legitimacy of euro NGOs
- the determination of democratic criteria of citizens representativity for the “recognised” NGOs
- no special channel given to Churches
- dialogue between civil society and elected European representatives (Euro parliamentarians)
- the history of European countries revisited in order to eliminate nationalist presentation.