The European Economic and Social Committee is organizing a conference on "Achieving the goals of the White Paper on Transport: how civil society can help with delivery". This one day conference will take place at the Committee's premises on 7 December. The principal document under discussion is entitled "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system". It is available here . We are inviting comments on this document since it is at the core of the meeting. But first some background:
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe's socio-occupational interest groups, and others, a formal platform to express their points of views on EU issues. Its opinions are forwarded to the larger institutions - the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. It thus has a key role to play in the Union's decision-making process.
Committed to European integration, the EESC contributes to strengthening the democratic legitimacy and effectiveness of the European Union by enabling civil society organisations from the Member States to express their views at European level. This Committee fulfils three key missions:
• helping to ensure that European policies and legislation tie in better with economic, social and civic circumstances on the ground, by assisting the European Parliament, Council and European Commission, making use of EESC members' experience and representativeness, dialogue and efforts to secure consensus serving the general interest;
• promoting the development of a more participatory European Union which is more in touch with popular opinion, by acting as an institutional forum representing, informing, expressing the views of and securing dialogue with organised civil society;
• promoting the values on which European integration is founded and advancing, in Europe and across the world, the cause of democracy and participatory democracy, as well as the role of civil society organisations.
The introduction to the meeting and its purpose makes four very specific points that are intended to shape the discussions, namely:
- The new EU Transport White Paper requires swift implementation.
- So far, the lack of progress in EU transport policy has been partly due to the fact that there has been insufficient involvement of civil society in both policy-making and policy implementation, and any involvement there has been has not been adequately structured.
- The conference aims to assess the weaknesses in current practice and propose new means of getting the civil society on board.
- It will provide insight into the forms that a truly cooperation-based decision-making process could take at different levels of governance (European, national and local).
Critical thinking on the EU White Paper on Transport
Points 2 - 4 strike this reader as excellent, timely and necessary. But it will be important to have a developed view of the White Paper which is setting the stage for the discussions. To this end I would like to invite comments on the White Paper (click here to access.).
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From the editor:
I will do my best to make sure that our readers are able to follow the flow of what I think could be a very important series of exchanges. The concept of much higher levels of citizen action, read "activism", and not just passive post-facto "participation" to give a thumbs up to someone else's top-down proposal, is not my idea of how our sector should be moving ahead in these troubled but oh so potentially rich days.
Again, to my mind the key is not so much the quality of the White Paper as it exists today, as the entire process behind it which the EESC is working to elucidate and eventually improve here. So this will be a good chance to following the thinking of those involved in the meeting and its follow-up. Stay tuned. We'll do our best.
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