For a citizen-friendly EU

Back to work and back to another major conference, this time organised by the Various Interests Group at the EESC (‘Group III’ in our internal parlance), on ‘A structured civil dialogue for a citizen-friendly European Union.’ The Conference opened under the Chairmanship of the Committee’s probable next President, Staffan Nilsson, and in its first session heard a keynote speech from European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding. I used to work for Ms Reding when she was in charge of education and culture in the Commission and it was nice to welcome her personally to the Committee. She underlined the basically positive approach of the Lisbon Treaty, which puts the citizens ahead of economics, and which now explicitly sets out the democratic conditions of the European Union. ‘I intend to ensure that an effective dialogue with the European citizen takes place,’ she insisted, continuing ‘who better than your Committee to get this message across?’


  1. Julien Frisch

    “Structured Dialogue” is one of those terms that make the EU sound like a bureaucratic monster.

  2. Martin

    Mmmmm…. as opposed to unstructured cacophonie?

  3. Julien Frisch

    Yes, indeed. 🙂

    “Chaotic cacophony” might actually be a good description for a lively pluralistic democratic system or the interactive involvement of citizens and citizen organisations without a priori structuring. One might have to learn to listen into the cacophony and then draw the right conclusions.

    But “structured dialogue” is something for professionalised organisations in a pre-organised system (‘guided democracy’) where half of the outcomes are already defined by the structure – at least that is what it sounds like.

  4. Martin

    You are half right, at least, Julien, but surely the chaotic cacophony of which we speak is akin to anarchy? I agree that ‘guided’ democracy is not the ideal, but nor is a complete absence of mechanisms and structures to aggregate and filter. But I am clearly going to have to come up with an alternative to the term ‘structured dialogue’ if I want to convince you!

  5. James

    Structured dialogue – it is also another way to keep busy (and appropriately funded) all those ‘Brussels-based-professional-citizens’… My mother (one of those millions who pays taxes, try to make ends meet and get her kids a good education) just calls for one way to be consulted… elections… and she votes. for structured dialogue you already have EESC, CoR, etc. Who else do you need?

  6. Martin

    That’s my point, James! We don’t need new institutions and, anyway, we won’t get them. We have to use the institutions we have got. I wonder, by the way, whether your mother votes in European Elections (for the European Parliament). Almost 60 per cent of Europe’s voters didn’t at the last elections.

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