Você está na página 1de 14

20 Achievements in 20 Years: ECAS 1991 - 2011 Author: Tony Venables Editor: Elisabeth Victoria Lasky ISBN: 2-87451-017-3 This

document is copyright of ECAS ECAS 2011. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following: you may print, copy or download to a local hard disk the file for your personal and noncommercial use only; you may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge the authors as the source of the material You may not, except with the express written permission of the author, distribute or commercially exploit the content.

A foreword to 20 Achievements in 20 Years

In this document, we highlight 20 achievements by ECAS over the last 20 years in the context of our programme under three Cs: Civil society development, Citizens rights, Citizenship and governance. A few things stand out: ECAS has helped create new European associations and networks and improve access to the EU for non-profit organisations; ECAS has been a pioneer in European participatory projects starting with a hotline for citizens, and a key stakeholder on ways to improve the communication channels between citizens and the EU institutions, bringing both of them closer together; ECAS is a distinctive and rare European association because it is directly accessible to citizens; ECAS has stood at the forefront of promoting citizen friendly institutional and Treaty reforms, such as the general anti-discrimination clause and better standards of consultation; ECAS has advocated in support of enlargement and civil society in candidate and neighbouring countries, particularly in relation to its Ljubljana declaration; ECAS has created the European Civil Society House which is about to take on its first virtual existence as a one-stop shop for citizens.

Nevertheless, an anniversary as just being a celebration is a wasted opportunity. Looking back raises questions for the future, which we ask you to consider. After our 20th anniversary event on 1-2 September 2011, our Board of Directors and members will carry out a brainstorming session on the future activity of ECAS. Please help us get started by sending your comments on ECAS 20 achievements and answering one or more of the questions in the document. Acknowledgements of support ECAS would not exist and none of these achievements would have occurred without our funders. The organisation was founded by the Joseph Rowntree Trusts in York with a campaigner Des Wilson playing a prominent role. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has remained a supporter of many projects, not least the European Civil Society House. A 10th anniversary grant allowed ECAS to develop a capacity for policy research. Two other foundations have played a prominent role: the MOTT foundation which for 6 crucial years in the run-up to the most recent enlargement funded the Information, Training and Scholarship (ITS) programme. Compagnia San Paolo supported the COOPERATE programme which shifted the training emphasis for new member states towards the structural funds and inspired ways of securing access to these funds for CSOs in new member states. A constant asset for ECAS has been the support of the European Commission. This began with the Secretariat General providing a core grant and the then Social Economy Unit which helped to launch projects such as the first citizens week. Currently, the two main sources of funding are the Europe for Citizens programme which provides a three-year strategic partnership grant and Your Europe Advice, which is different in being a service contract to advise 12,000 citizens of their European rights. Although 1

ECAS has often been critical of the Commission (generally for not being more assertive or not doing enough to promote European citizenship), the relationship has been positive, allowing for more flexibility and independence of action than is generally thought possible with European projects. Finally, there is a huge in-kind contribution. ECAS has attracted a number of volunteers, most recently in relation to the European Civil Society House a project which particularly appeals to the young generation. The EU Institutions and in particular the Economic and Social Committee have often stepped in and provided logistical support. In the European Parliament, Jean Lambert MEP has done this several times for meetings in Strasbourg on the ECAS report Whos afraid of EU Enlargement? It would be wrong however to give the impression that this kind of support is just to meet basic needs. The ECAS Board of Directors provides significant, creative input and help with fundraising. For example, Michael Brophy, when Chairman, took the organisation through a reassessment which resulted in the three Cs. Many students have written or contributed to ECAS publications especially when linked to their own post graduate studies. Sometimes in kind support goes beyond what the ECAS can do itself. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer takes on more difficult cases to defend European rights and helped shape the report Mind the gap. Deloitte has also provided advice and produced a business plan for the European Civil Society House.

Twenty years of achievements: ECAS 1991 - 2011

1. Enabler of access to EU funding 2. Creator of new European associations and networks 3. Promoter of partnership with civil society in EU Cohesion and pre-accession funds. 4. Builder of civil society capacity linked to EU enlargement 5. Advocate of an EU open to all civil society organisations 6. Inventor of the European hotline and manager of the largest single European advice service 7. Supporter of the high level panel on free movement of persons 8. Proposer in Mind the gap: towards better enforcement of European citizens' right to free movement 9. Coordinator of innovative projects to support a one-stop shop for free movement of people within the EU 10. Convener of the European Forum of Citizens' Advice Services 11. Campaigner against a two-speed Europe for citizens, ECAS keeps asking "Who's afraid of EU enlargement"? 12. Campaigner against visa requirements for candidate and neighbouring countries 13. Promoter of Treaty reforms: bringing the EU closer to the citizen 14. Supporter of better European governance and standards of consultation 15. Advocate of freedom of information and the access to documents regulation 16. Promoter of a new right to information so that citizens know about their European rights and activities 17. Participant in the European Citizens Consultations 18. Promoter of the European citizens' initiative (ECI) 19. Promoter of European citizenship 20. Inventor of the European Civil Society House

C1. Civil Society

1. Enabler of access to European funding. The ECAS guide to European Union funding, now in its 17th edition has enabled hundreds of CSOs to access EU funding with the use of more hands-on advice. The guide includes tips, a summary of EU Commission contacts, grants and programmes, both within and outside the Union, as well as chapters on Cohesion policy and the foundations supporting European activity. The 200 page book has been revised and published annually since 1993 without interruption. For its members, ECAS offers an attractive package. For instance, for just 50 euros as a friend of ECAS, a copy of the funding guide is accompanied by monthly up-to-date news from the EU, calls for tender and proposals, events, and summaries of policy developments.

Q1. European funding is still too much for insiders even in a period of economic downturn and cuts in national budgets when the EU budget remains a relatively safe haven. Why? Are the rules too complex? Or should ECAS make more effort to promote agreements for different language versions? How is it possible to create a help desk with significantly more outreach as part of the European Civil Society House?

2. Creator of new European associations and networks. In its early days with the expansion of Treaty reforms and EU activities into new areas of interest to civil society, ECAS provided premises and helped to establish a number of European associations in areas such as culture, health or citizens advice. A first citizens week of conferences held in September 1991 led to such initiatives and in particular to the creation of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage (EFAH), now called Culture Action in Europe. At this time helping fill gaps in the representation of CSOs at European level also meant for ECAS helping them fill corresponding gaps in the EU budget- ECAS lobbied the European Parliament which adopted budget amendments for cultural organisations and for those in the social economy. In the early days, a number of European associations which are now fully independent began in Brussels with a Euro-secretariat arrangement with ECAS: ECRE, Save the Children and Eurolink Age. Most civil society sectors are now represented at EU level, so there is less need for this social entrepreneurial activity.

Q2. Is the issue now to bring together and encourage more sharing of premises and facilities among existing European associations? Could the European Civil Society House be a response to this?

3. Promoter of partnership with civil society in EU Cohesion and preaccession funds. Early on, ECAS created a coalition on the structural funds and has helped successfully to enlarge the partnership principle to include civil society in the regulations. The title of an ECAS publication The illusion of inclusion sums it all up, stressing the difficulty of achieving real partnership. The COOPERATE programme, bringing together in a training programme CSOs and officials from new member states, was a response to the needs of capacity building and cross-sectoral partnership. More recently, a forum held during the Open Days for Cities and Regions has been an opportunity to gather the evidence of how partnerships are working and to make recommendations. ECAS should react to the legislative proposals for the Cohesion policy 20142020 and review its activity within this new context.

Q3. Is there not a tendency for CSOs to compete for small European funds and ignore the millions of unspent social and regional funding in their country? To whaty extent sould access to cohesion fuding be a priority for ECAS?


Builder of civil society capacity linked to EU enlargement. ECAS ran for several years the ITS or Information, Training and Scholarship Programme which was a structured approach to training a selected group of CSOs on EU accession in candidate countries, then bringing them on study visits to Brussels and finally hosting individual scholars for a month. This led to helping with the setting up of the Polish NGO office and more recently the office for the Civil Society Development Foundation and the IMPACT centre in Croatia. An even wider impact has been achieved by the 10 point Ljubljana declaration of April 2008.

Q4. Would it be a good idea to examine the strengths and weaknesses of civil society development and the implementation of the Ljubljana declaration?

5. Advocate of a European Union open to all civil society organisations. In the Commissions relations with NGOs and other publications and conferences, ECAS was always an advocate of open dialogue to reach out beyond Brussels insiders. Policy research for our 10th anniversary had an influence on the debate on European governance and the Commissions consultation standards of December 1992. ECAS has recently updated a 2008 study on framework agreements (compacts) between civil society organisations and public authorities in cooperation with the ENNA (European network of national associations). The outcomes of the research show that compact-like agreements are the best, most modern forms of open agreements between governments and CSOs.

Q5. Could there be a framework agreement between the EU and civil society as a way of implementing Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty on participatory democracy? 5

C2. Citizens Rights

6. Inventor of the European hotline and manager of the largest single European advice service. ECAS hotlines on visible and hidden barriers to free movement started on 1 January 1993, making a huge impact as the catalyst for the Commission to launch the Citizens first communication campaign. ECAS ran the Citizens Signpost Service for 9 years, which consisted of a multilingual team that expanded to 60 legal experts from all over Europe answering about 10-12,000 questions a year. Recently, the contract has been won to run the service, renamed Your Europe Advice (YEA), for another 4 years. ECAS has a highly experienced and well qualified team covering all languages and all aspects of free movement of people which has helped thousands of citizens assert their European rights. This is a high profile project with a good working relationship with the Commission (DG Markt).

Q.6 As with all advice services, the questions are: how to promote the Your Europe Advice service? How to use the evidence and produce more feedback reports? and how to follow up more serious complaints where advice is not enough?

7. Supporter of the high level panel on free movement of persons. The 100 page report of this panel was chaired by Simone Veil, who was ECAS first President, and it was presented in March 1997 to the Commission. Tony Venables, ECAS Director, contributed actively to this report, for example by drafting the executive summary and highlighting evidence from the hotline on barriers to free movement. The panels work raised the profile of issues surrounding free movement of people which made 80 recommendations to remove the barriers. The report of the panel helped bring together evidence scattered across Commission departments and policy recommendations, paving the way for a number of legislative reforms. It resulted in more general legislation on free movement and residence, recognition of professional qualifications and an updated regulation on the coordination of social security arrangements for migrant workers and their families. The panel provided an opportunity to create a clearer focus to the free movement of persons and its report set the agenda for further legislation.

Q7. Is a new panel on free movement of persons needed to examine how well the legislation is being applied? At a time when free movement of persons within the Union is less popular and directly under threat with attacks on the Schengen Area, could the answer be affirmative?

8. Proposer in Mind the gap: towards better enforcement of European citizens' right to free movement. With extensive experience as an advice service for European citizens, ECAS is acutely aware of the continuing obstacles to residence, transfer of social rights, recognition of qualifications and the new emerging problems of cross-border family law. There is a growing gap, apparent to increasingly aware citizens, between the fine principles of the Treaty, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the judgements of the European Court on the one hand and on the other what happens on the ground. A first study was completed in early 2009 for the European Parliament on the implementation of Directive 2004/38 the so called citizenship directive, which was followed by a new initiative. A high level panel chaired by Sir David Edward, former judge at the European Court, produced a report on how to enforce European rights more effectively. The Mind the Gap report is being followed up by a second report prepared by Freshfields, Bruckhaus and Deringer on how to increase Commission powers of enforcement. This new document will be presented at the 20th anniversary conference on 1-2 September 2011. The high level panels 10 recommendations are realistic, readable and have been well received.

Q8. For better enforcement, political will is needed, but is lacking. The Roma affair of summer 2010 highlighted the issues of enforcing European citizens rights, but in general they receive little support and are not in the public eye. How should ECAS promote an enforcement culture?

9. European coordinator of innovative projects to support a one-stop shop for free movement of people within the Union. Following its European hotlines, ECAS was a leading participant in the 2006 European Year of Workers Mobility with the then ECAS president Mario Monti participating in the opening conference and other activities. For the year, ECAS partnered with advice services to run a project on the impact of enlargement on free movement of people. It was followed by a second project, the one-stop mobility shop under the Progress programme. More recently, a staff exchange scheme among advice services following migration flows called Flowchart has been completed and a charter circulated. These projects were designed to test out the idea of the one-stop shop particularly at local level and for the EUs most vulnerable migrants. However, to be really effective there should be a shared responsibility among countries of origin, countries of destination and the EU budget.

Q9. Could such projects linking local grassroots migrants advice services and bringing them together at European level be scaled up in EU Cohesion policy?

10. Convener of the European Forum of Citizens Advice Services. ECAS has always advocated for European level information and advice services, whilst recognising that 7

these will always be a drop in the ocean in comparison to the actual needs of citizens. To meet the needs, national advice services need to be assisted in building the capacity to deal with the 10% of citizens queries and complaints which have a cross-border dimension and impact on European rights and legal rules. This is why ECAS, since 2000, has been active in convening practically every year a European Forum of Citizens Advice Services. This is an opportunity for dialogue among advice services themselves on new challenges -such the debt crisis- and new ideas such as the one-stop shop, which came from the forum. The forum also led to the creation of a more permanent structure, Citizens Advice International, in which ECAS played a leading role.

Q 10. From the European Forum of Citizens Advice Services, it should be possible to create a network of advisors, advocates and researchers on free movement of people. How to find the support and resources for such a task?

11. Campaigner against a two-speed Europe for citizens, ECAS keeps asking Whos afraid of EU enlargement? Despite scaremongering about the Polish plumber, the actual impact of enlargement on free movement of people overall in the EU has been relatively neutral, and more significant in certain countries with more open labour markets. ECAS produced a series of reports measuring the actual impact of the 2004 enlargement on free movement. These attracted widespread press coverage and were a factor in arguing the case for a rapid phasing out of transitional arrangements for workers from new member states. Jean Lambert MEP became our interlocutor in the European Parliament by hosting a regular meeting at the September session where the reports were presented. These reports were a great success for ECAS. With the end of transitional arrangements except for Bulgaria and Romania, this activity proved to be successful.

Q 11. Could it be useful to look at the impact of Croatia and other Western Balkan countries on free movement of people when they join the European Union?

12. Campaigner against visa requirements for candidate and neighbouring countries. ECAS has consistently maintained a position of insisting that free movement of people within the EU should not occur by creating a fortress Europe at the external borders. In 2009, a high profile hotline launched simultaneously in 5 Western Balkan countries under an ECAS project demonstrated convincingly the case for visa liberalisation instead of mere facilitation. The results of the hotline and a survey were brought together at a conference in Brussels with EU policy makers. Except in the case of Kosovo, a visa-free regime has been achieved for the Western Balkans. The same cannot be said for Turkey and the takeover of the hotline run with our partner IKV in 2010. Q 12. The visa hotlines were using similar techniques to the ECAS hotlines of the early 90s at the start of the single market and the Schengen area. How is it possible to translate this kind of bottom-up pressure into results in the case of Turkey? 8

C3. Citizenship and Governance

13. Promoter of Treaty reforms: bringing the EU closer to the citizen. ECAS has produced several publications on Treaty reforms, but has done more than carry out this didactic function1. It is difficult to assess the impact of this activity which might initially appear theoretical. On the other hand, understanding the scope and limits of the Treaties is fundamental to any European strategy and Treaty reforms have been a mobilising factor for civil society over the last 20 years. Early on, a coalition was created called VOICE (Voluntary organisations in a citizens Europe) bringing together a number of civil society demands for revision and experiences of competences in the new Treaty of Maastricht. By organising on 6-10 September 1993 a second citizens week demanding a ban on all forms of discrimination not included in the Treaties -whether on the basis of race, disability, sexual orientation or age, ECAS was instrumental in first presenting the idea of a general anti-discrimination clause which became article 13 in the Treaty of Amsterdam.

Q 13. In some respects, the Lisbon Treaty takes the EU closer to citizens and in others further away. Would it be useful to organise an event on the Lisbon Treaty?

14. Supporter of better European governance and standards of consultation. In the early 90s, the European Commission launched a major internal and external consultative exercise and a white paper on European governance in which ECAS was a leading stakeholder. ECAS carried out policy research and organised conferences on the Commissions relations with NGOs. With their emphasis on openness to all opinions, including minority interests, and their rejection of an over institutionalised and rigid approach, these conferences had a positive influence on the Commissions consultation standards of December 2002. The consultation standards were seen as a way of increasing the involvement of civil society in policy development, making it an instrument of participatory democracy. They have however become (with some exceptions) a much more technical instrument for better regulation linked to impact assessments.

In the run-up to the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, ECAS produced an analysis of the new Treaty. Tips for the would-be Euro-lobbyist and lobbying after Maastricht were produced. An analysis of the next Treaty revision at Amsterdam was published under the heading The Treaty of ambiguity. On the Constitutional Treaty, ECAS followed the work of the Convention, and produced a 50 questions and answers analysis. During Mario Montis ECAS presidency, a series of meetings took place in member states holding a referendum or likely to do so. After the rejection of the Treaty in the French and Dutch referenda, ECAS produced a 25 question and answer analysis What way out of the Constitutional impasse? For the anniversary of the founding Treaty in 2007, ECAS produced 50 questions and answers on the Treaty of Rome.

Q 14. Feedback for organisations participating in consultations remains weak even though there is a report on the results of some consultation exercises. Should ECAS revisit this issue and push for more interinstitutional and multi-level governance on the basis of article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty?

15. Advocate of freedom of information and the access to documents regulation. Since its beginnings, ECAS has followed the development of more transparency in EU documents. Following a declaration attached to the Maastricht Treaty, the development of codes of conduct and of the European ombudsmans role, an article was added to the Amsterdam Treaty and a regulation adopted. In September 2006, ECAS published the report Should there be a freedom of information act for the EU? which analysed the case-law of the European Court and the application of the regulation. This was the basis of a conference organised with the Swedish Presidency at a time when revision of the regulation was being discussed. ECAS has also used the regulation to good effect, for example to obtain publication of the agenda and minutes of the Presidium of the Convention on the future of Europe. This work will be taken up and developed as part of the one-stop shop for citizens using the European Civil Society House (see 20 below).

Q 15. How to make the EU regulation on access to documents more popular and not just a tool for lobbyists?

16. Promoter of a new right to information so that citizens are informed about EU rights and activities. In the wake of the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty, the Commission launched a white paper on European communication policy. ECAS response was to update an earlier study under the title Connecting with Citizens: does the EU have the will to tackle its information deficit? The report analysed the results of referenda on the Constitutional Treaty, accession to the EU and European elections. It proved that there is a link between lack of information and low turnout, for example in elections to the European Parliament. Amending the Treaties to include a right to be informed was a proposal taken over by the Commission and the European Parliament, but has not yet found sufficient support with governments. The issues of information and communication were a high priority during the constitutional crisis. ECAS organised conferences with Margot Wallstrm, the Commission Vice President, gathering on occasions more than 600 participants.

Q 16. Whilst the absence of communication and information campaigns is regularly deplored for example in relation to the new European right to propose an initiative it is curiously absent from the political agenda. What should be done to bring this issue, which concerns everyone and no-one, back on the agenda in time for the next elections to the European Parliament? How should we promote a right to be informed?


17. Participant in the European citizens consultations. As an organisation which had experimented with hotlines and published policy research on EU information and communication, it was natural for ECAS to become involved as one of the European partners of the King Baudouin foundation with the European Citizens Consultations (ECC). This was part of the Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate. ECC broke new ground, because for the first time citizens gathered in all 27 member states to establish an agenda of EU priorities and then presented them at a final event in Brussels. ECAS contributed by shaping partnerships, steering outreach activities as well as organising a follow up conference with EU policy makers. In 2009 2010, ECAS organised its own citizens panel project in four countries with input from experts and a final European event resulting in the publication How the participatory Toolbox can make the European Union less remote from Citizens. Despite extensive evaluations and the success of ECC and other projects in demonstrating that citizens can engage with European issues and the complex EU environment, there has been no real follow-up to plan D. Citizens panel projects still continue under the Europe for Citizens programme and there are other initiatives, for example to gather input from citizens on options for scientific research. But these are still limited experiments.

Q 17. There is no mainstream mechanism for citizen participation across policy areas. Above all questions of cost are invoked, even though the costs of not involving citizens could be higher. How to convince the Commission and other Institutions to build upon plan D?

18. Promoter of the European citizens initiative (ECI). ECAS has been involved with getting European citizens initiatives (ECIs) on the agenda, whereby over 1 million people can demand European legislation. This began with policy research in 2004, which advocated for example that the organisers of a citizens initiative should have a hearing with the European Parliament and Commission, a demand successfully repeated in the run-up to the adoption of the regulation. After contributing actively to the consultative process on the adoption of the regulation, ECAS organised the first major European event to coincide with the publication of the regulation in March 2011.

Q 18. Ideas have been put forward for support mechanisms for initiators of ECIs. The plan is to continue this activity in 2012 with training and awareness-raising through a help desk in the context of the European Civil Society House. To what extent will this be the foundation of the house?

19. Promoter of European citizenship. ECAS activities come together round the concept of European citizenship. In parallel to the Convention on the future of Europe, ECAS produced a collection of essays by leading academics under the title Rethinking European Citizenship and has produced model drafts for strengthening and extending this concept in successive Treaty 11

revisions. In projects and conferences such as Searching for Cinderella, ECAS has also drawn attention to the importance of the case-law of the European Court of Justice. An alternative report to the Commissions Fifth Report on Citizenship of the Union was produced and a complaint sent to the European Ombudsman about lack of consultation. There was consultation by the Commission on the 6th report, which was also more substantial than its predecessors. One next step for ECAS is to produce a book on European Citizenship. Q 19. ECAS has long advocated a less fragmented approach to citizenship of the Union by the European Commission. This was reflected in the appointment of Viviane Reding in the current Commission as VicePresident responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. How to promote European citizenship further for the European Year of the Citizen in 2013?

20. Inventor of the European Civil Society House. ECAS is setting out to create a European Civil Society House in order to bridge the gap between citizens and the EU Institutions in the interests of both. Among all the prestigious institutional buildings, agencies and 15,000 lobbyists around the EU, citizens should have their own space. This should take first the form in 2011 of a virtual house, accessible from anywhere in the EU and neighbouring countries through the online platform citizenhouse.eu. This will bring together in a one-stop shop five ways for citizens to defend their European rights and make their voice heard: complaints to the Commission, access to documents, petitions, requests to the European ombudsman and citizens initiatives. The physical house should bring together associations particularly in the areas of human rights and democratic participation, but that will take more time to set up. A survey has been conducted in which more than 92% of respondents are in favour of the creation of the Civil Society House and in the European Institutions, there is significant support for this mechanism. Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship has highlighted the need to make the visitors centre more available to civil society. In the European Parliament a budget line has been created and cross-party political support has increased.

Q 20. The ESCH has the potential to make a difference. If set up not only in Brussels but also across the member states, it will reduce the gap between the EU and the citizens. Should ECAS continue to pursue this venture as its no. 1 priority?