Initiated and coordinated by Civil Society Europe, the CSOs Convention brings together 80 European civil society networks and organisations with members all across Europe, uniting millions of citizens active in all areas of life.
We welcome this Conference as an attempt to reconnect policy and politics with citizens. It should bring real change and concrete outcomes in order to help rebuild trust in people’s power to have a say individually and collectively on the political choices and the policies that affect our lives.
But we are facing a major risk in this exercise, a reality our organisations on the ground face every day: those who struggle to access their rights, or who’s rights are denied, are most often at the periphery of such processes, left behind, silent, invisible and disillusioned with a society of unequal relationships and competition between people.
As citizens’ associations, our role is to help aggregate and empower those voices to make them heard in the democratic and political arenas. With the limited role and space that we have in this Conference’s plenary, we will try our best to do so.
We will work to propose a strong and shared agenda to address these challenges, and take away some lessons learned from the pandemic: that we are part of the planet’s life chain and do not own it. That common good is not a stock exchange index but must be protected by public institutions. That digitalisation can drive social and democratic progress but also reinforce domination and exclusion patterns and comes with heavy environmental impacts. That democracy is not a given, and to be meaningful, it must give voice and ensure access to rights and dignity for all.