The European Civic Forum (ECF) is a pan-European network of over 110 associations and NGOs across 29 European countries: big federations of associations deeply rooted in local constituencies, national platforms of NGOs uniting hundreds of thousands of NGOs, human rights advocacy, and campaigning organisations, but also smaller groups working at community level or engaging with the public on local issues.
Connect Citizens, NGOs and Institutions
Built essentially around an economic dimension, the European project lacks of the pillars enshrined in the Treaties – Solidarity and Democracy – to be able to overcome the wide gap between citizens and European institutions. Associations and NGOs play a crucial role in this civic ownership. Associations provide an ideal environment for debate and the formulation of projects which respond to citizens’ aspirations. They are fulfilling an important function, strengthening the ties in a community life, promoting inclusion and social innovation. Associations also are spokespersons of citizens’ aspirations for equality, solidarity and democracy. Thus, they are a key factor in building, assisting and monitoring public policies, but they also make sure that decisions made by institutions reflect as much as possible citizens’ concerns. An associative participation recognised by institutions at the European level can bring back enthusiasm for building a Europe of social justice, a Europe ensuring an access to education and culture for all, which would be a leading example in the defence of Human Rights and of cultural diversity. This vision of the relations between citizens, associations and institutions is precisely at the core of European Civic Forum’s action, since its creation in 2005.
Civil society organisations bringing people together can unlock a great potential to redefine our social contract for a Europe of Equality, Solidarity and Democracy
The European Union is facing a growing popular disenchantment since the deepening of the economic and social crisis, which emerged in 2010. A belief in the ability of the European project to promote and secure collective well-being has been fractured. There is a strengthening feeling of being left aside when hit by the crisis. Decisions made at the European level to face it seem as they have been imposed by the economically strongest countries. Values of equality, solidarity and democracy promoted by the European project are seriously undermined by the European institutions themselves. Rising regressive populism rises throughout Europe and fuels xenophobic and racist views and attitudes, but also measures excluding the most deprived communities or those who seem different. On the other hand, we are witnessing extraordinary citizens’ mobilisations, which tend to leave no one alone in the crisis, to ensure access to Fundamental Rights for all those who are living on European Union’s territory. ECF action is clearly and strongly going in the direction of inclusive solidarity.
3 keys targets and 3 directions
The ECF connects civic actors, institutions, academics and media through conferences, forums, alliances, and campaigns, thus fostering a transnational expression of citizenship, Europeanising civic participation. We always strive for a balance between grassroots outreach and ownership of its activities and institutional dialogue.
Since its creation in 2005, the European Civic Forum has been working to:
Promote an enabling environment for civic actors to engage in public sphere and community life around the values of Equality, Solidarity and Inclusiveness and Democracy.
Support the structuring of European civil society through alliance building, sharing of experience and joint campaigning for effective access to rights for all.
Foster institutional recognition of civil society organisations via the setting up of European Civil Dialogue.
These three goals are reflecting European Civic Forum (ECF) maturation over the years. This is an approach which considers associations and NGO as separate and complementary actors of political and union movement organisations. It is addressed to all actors which intervention is necessary to strengthen democracy, but also the sense of belonging to a common cause and to shared concerns.
Many citizens acting to stake claims their demandes of an inclusive, egalitarian society which responds to diversity aspiration. Associative movement make available for these goals it’s experience, it’s understanding of obstacles to overcome and opportunities to take, build in time. For their part, institutions have central responsabilities for citizen to be totally involved in a society which spreading values claimed by treaties.
European Civic Forum connection with citizens’ mobilisations is done essentially via the activities from its member organisations, which are at the heart of the issues to be solved. Popular education, migrants’ rights, personal data protection, the recognition of their demands by national and local institutions: these are the daily activities of our members.