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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/133

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Communication from the Commission:
Strategic Objectives 2000-2005 — “Shaping the New Europe”’

(2001/C 14/25)

At its plenary session of 2 March 2000, the Economic and Social Committee decided, under Rule 23(3)
of its Rules of Procedure, to draw up an opinion on the above-mentioned communication.

In accordance with Rules 11(4) and 19(1) of its Rules of Procedure, the Committee set up a sub-
committee to prepare its work on this subject.

The sub-committee adopted its draft opinion on 30 August 2000. The sub-committee instructed Mr Gafo
Fernández to submit the draft opinion to the plenary session.

At its 376th plenary session held on 19 October 2000 the Economic and Social Committee adopted the
following opinion by 59 votes to seven with one abstention.

1. Introduction valuable contribution through exploratory opinions, hearings
or other means. In this context the Committee would refer to
its opinions on civil society organisations and on the partner-
ship between the Commission and NGOs and the possibility
of creating an observatory within the Committee.
1.1. In presenting the Commission’s strategic objectives for
2000-2005 to the European Parliament on 15 February 2000,
President Prodi told the House that the Commission intended
to publish a White Paper on governance by July 2001. This
White Paper will explore two main avenues:
2. The Commission proposals

— decentralising responsibility within the EU, and

2.1. Strategic objectives 2000-2005
— modernising the work of the Commission and re-estab-
lishing consistency.

2.1.1. The Commission paper setting out its strategic
objectives is intended as a strategic policy document which
In view of the importance of this subject and having consider- aims to identify what it sees as the main challenges for the
ation to its role in the European Union, the Committee would, immediate future and the areas in which it seeks to achieve
as a matter of principle, wish to be involved from the beginning substantial changes. It deliberately does not concern itself with
in the conceptual formulation of this document. the methodology by which these changes will be brought
about. This will be the subject of a series of annual communi-
cations which will deal with matters of operational modality
within the framework of the five-year plan.
The Committee proposes that the White Paper highlight
relations between Community institutions and bodies and civil
society organisations, as well as framing future political issues
and improving decision-making procedures to make them 2.1.2. The Commission aims to achieve an ever closer
more participatory. It is also time to launch a debate on how union between peoples, based on shared values and common
civil dialogue should be structured so as to include all interest objectives. It is pushing forward with political integration by
groups while avoiding confusion with social dialogue. In this establishing an area of freedom, security and justice and by
context the Committee would draw attention to its own way developing common foreign, security and defence policies. It
of managing conflicting interests, relying on dialogue and has a vision of a Europe which can show genuine leadership
expertise to find a compromise. on the world stage. It believes that Europe will need strong institutions
1.2. Highlighting its own specific remit, the Committee which answer to new forms of democratic governance. To this
wishes to be consulted on the problems which the Commission end, it will seek a new synergy between all of the European
is currently seeking to address in the course of drawing up the Union’s democratic bodies as part of a broader improvement
White Paper and on which the Committee could make a of European governance. It wishes to strike a new balance
C 14/134 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

between action by the Commission, the other institutions, the European stability and prosperity. To this end, it will pursue
Member States and Civil Society. To ensure success, it intends its enlargement strategy; this inevitably has major implications
to work in close partnership with the other European insti- for European institutions and policies.
tutions and through a careful division of labour with the
Member States. The Commission also sees a need to establish
genuine strategic partnerships with the countries on the
2.1.3. The Commission will pursue four strategic objectives periphery of the enlarged Europe. At the same time, it feels
in the period under review: that Europe must enhance its role as a partner in solidarity
with the developing countries and refocus its activities to
combat poverty not only within the EU but also in those
— Promoting new forms of European governance countries.

— A stable Europe with a stronger voice in the world The weakness of the international system, the
escalating number of conflicts, increasing poverty and the
— A new economic and social agenda spread of organised crime are all seen as demanding decisive
action from the EU. The Commission’s objective is to make
Europe a global actor with a political weight commensurate
— A better quality of life for its citizens with its economic strength. This will involve, inter alia,
developing a genuine common foreign policy and civilian and
military capabilities in a common defence and security policy.

2.1.4. The complex challenges which lie ahead call for new
forms of European governance. It sees this as being the The Commission confirms its strategic interest in
responsibility not only of the European institutions but of
the reactivation of the Millennium Round and the reform of
Member State governments and parliaments and regional and
local authorities. the World Trade Organisation. It aims to maximise the
potential and minimise the undesirable side-effects of globalisa-
tion. Authorities in the Member States are part and
parcel of European governance but this is not perceived by the
people, who have little sense of ownership over the structures 2.1.6. Europe must become a globally competitive econ-
which govern their lives. Few people distinguish between the omy built on knowledge and innovation and on a strategy
institutions and most believe that European and national of sustainable development. It sees the under-utilisation of
policies are worlds apart. resources as Europe’s greatest weakness and feels that its
potential needs to be released; nowhere is this more evident
than in the field of employment. To manage European governance will require
strong institutions, a collective vision and a driving force but
it also calls for democratic control and the full involvement of The Union needs a new economic and social
citizens. It sees itself as providing the vision and the driving agenda in order to build a competitive and inclusive know-
force. ledge-based economy which promotes strong and sustained
growth, full employment and social cohesion. The Commission pledges itself to providing open
government and accountability. It believes that civil society The Commission sets out the following priorities
has a crucial role to play in this context. The delegation and
for coordinated action at European and Member State level:
decentralisation of day-to-day executive tasks will be a key
feature of the new form of European governance.
— to aim for full employment;

2.1.5. European governance must provide the EU with the — to create a new economic dynamism by economic reform
means to assert itself with a single voice in the world, in the labour, product and capital markets aimed at
notwithstanding its institutional arrangements and three-pillar stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship;

— to make pensions safe and sustainable through a combi- Europe is seen as the focus of geopolitical shifts nation of employment-generating reforms, increasing the
which are, at once, a threat and an opportunity. The Com- revenue base and reviewing retirement systems in the
mission’s objective is to stabilise the continent and share light of the new demographic and health situation in
the fundamental European values; its ambition is to export Europe;
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/135

— to develop a European strategy for fighting social The European Union has been a successful endeav-
exclusion, reducing poverty and the disparities between our, built on the vision of those who took the first steps in the
Europe’s regions and territories; early 1950’s. Critical to that success has been the continuous
evolution of the strategies and policies which have taken the
— to review the quality of public expenditure and the long- European Union through the second half of the 20th century
term sustainability of public finances; and into a new millennium.

— to stimulate European research; The aspirations for the European Union continue
— to encourage investment in human capital; to advance. The Committee therefore welcomes the formal
statement of Strategic Priorities for the New Europe in the next
five years as an introduction to the longer term perspective.
— to develop and strengthen the European model of agri-
culture in order to increase the competitiveness of this
sector, secure its sustainability and promote vital rural
areas. Having set the strategic priorities, this naturally
leads into a consideration of the framework of governance
which will facilitate their achievement. Much of the remainder
2.1.7. The Commission believes that the EU must speed up of this Opinion tries to anticipate how the governance of the
the process of establishing an area of freedom, security and European Union needs to adapt, change and improve.
justice. It points out that problems of crime and personal
safety no longer stop at national borders and that the people
of Europe expect their rights to be protected and enforced The form of European Union governance must
wherever they are in the Union. naturally, or as naturally as possible, relate to the functions
which apply to the whole Community and be closely linked to The Commission sees a need for a decisive collec- the other aspects of governance at national and regional levels.
tion reaction to the ongoing degradation of the environment.
It considers that this calls for a sustainable development
strategy reconciling environmental development, social pro- The development of new forms of European
gress and sustainable economic growth. governance is therefore a derivative of the acceptance of
agreed objectives on what that governance, at different levels
(Community, Member State, and provincial, regional and local The Commission notes that European citizens are level) is expected to achieve. It also interacts with the degree of
insisting on higher food safety standards. It intends to take subsidiarity or centralisation of the respective functional
forward the proposals in its White Paper on Food Safety and responsibilities. The debate about European governance is,
on the creation of a European Food Authority. It will also seek therefore, much broader than a debate about the role of the
to bolster public and consumer confidence in electronic Community institutions.
commerce. The Commission intends to propose the creation In this setting, the other three strategic objectives
of a truly integrated European transport area through the create the focus for the discussion on governance.
creation of a single airspace and the development of trans-
European networks. To this end, it will exploit new tech-
nologies to further development of an intelligent and multi-
modal transport system. It will also propose the setting up of The Committee welcomes these more ambitious
a European Air Safety Agency and improve safety standards aspirations with their implications for all the citizens of
and training in the maritime sector. Europe. They set a challenge, of achievement, integration and
co-ordination around common goals, for all of the institutions
and agencies at every level.

3. General comments The (second) strategic objective is variously stated
as either ‘A stable Europe with a stronger voice in the world’
or ‘Stabilising our continent and boosting Europe’s voice in
3.1. Strategic objectives 2000-2005 the world’. Neither of these phrases adequately conveys the
important conclusion that Europe, (meaning in this case the
Community, its Member States and all the wider institutions),
3.1.1. The Economic and Social Committee welcomes the has a responsibility to use the strength of its position and
Commission’s initiative to shape up to the challenges of taking resources to take a global view of the issues affecting the lives
the Union into the twenty-first century and equipping it to of citizens both in Europe and elsewhere. The issues are much
counter the threats and exploit the opportunities with which more significant than the ‘stabilising of our continent’ or
it will be confronted in the years ahead. ‘having a stronger voice’.
C 14/136 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001 This strategic objective is misleadingly described. elections in some countries and the emergence of extreme
As a result the issues identified as a focus for the next five right-wing political parties whose racist agenda masquerades
years, whilst they are necessary and acceptable, are somewhat under the banner of patriotism.
too restrictive.

3.1.4. As the Commission itself has acknowledged (1), the
European Union today is in crisis and that crisis is one of The other (third and fourth) strategic objectives
relationships between institutions and citizens. There is a need
can be seen as focused on the agenda as it may directly affect
now to tackle this problem constructively and efficiently. The
citizens within Europe. The Committee see them as being
people of Europe are fundamentally in favour of the European
interdependent, one on the other.
ideal but they are concerned that Europe has lost its ability to
deliver the benefits which they desire. Because of the risk of confusion arising from any
ambiguity, the Commission might have made an explicit These benefits include sustained economic growth,
reference in the description of these two strategic objectives to full employment, a just political agenda which will promote
the distinction between the setting of the many policy the objectives of economic development and social cohesion,
objectives, which are identified and for which there would be protection from criminal activity, security from external attack,
agreed aspirations regardless of questions of competence and peace and prosperity in the neighbouring countries, a clear
subsidiarity, and the operational mechanisms, which will and forceful role for Europe as an economic power in the
require different degrees of harmonisation and co-ordination process of globalisation, a coherent and effective foreign policy
within the multiple levels of the framework of governance. and a pivotal role in developing the less-advantaged nations of
the world. For example, and as one of many that might be It is the case that European citizens do not
quoted, the objective of making ’pensions safe and sustainable’ understand the mechanisms of the European Union; the
is laudable and critically important. It is, however, an aspiration process of European legislation is highly complex and needs
for the setting of European standards which is an operational greater transparency. In the absence of this transparency, an
responsibility of the Member States. Similarly, the integration atmosphere of distrust has arisen which must be dispelled. In
of the ‘new’ economic agenda calls in a larger part for European the twenty-first century, the electorate is no longer prepared
Union developments which must be related to the evolving to put a blind trust in the ability or the good faith of decision-
social agenda, which lies more heavily (but not only) with makers at any level, whether it be global, European, national
Member States. or even local. The majority of people have no problem with
Europe; they have simply turned their backs on its institutional
face. Setting the strategic priorities for Europe needs
explicit clarity on how the priorities become objectives and In the introduction the Commission states that it
within which institutional setting. wants to ‘go further and find a new synergy between all the
European Union’s democratic bodies, as part of a broader
improvement of European governance’. The Committee con-
siders that its own potential — which derives from the fact
that it has its finger on the pulse of peoples’ needs as economic
3.1.2. The ESC agrees with the Commission that the players and members of society — is still not used adequately
reform of the relationships between the institutions must be and early enough in the Commission’s socio-economic initiat-
accompanied by a courageous administrative reform of the ives.
institutions themselves. The EEC was conceived as an associ-
ation of relatively wealthy Western-European states, commit-
ted to democratic principles, and the Treaty of Rome was 3.1.5. Another reason for popular unease is that many
drawn up in that context. The challenge of adapting to the people feel disquiet about the pace of the changes occurring in
admission of a large number of much less wealthy countries, society. These changes require political leaders to take decisions
many of which have been subjected to totalitarian regimes which the current institutional set-up makes it extremely
for the last half-century, will require major alterations to difficult to take with the requisite speed. Moreover, the public
Community rules and regulations. is not always able to understand and accept the changes.
European citizens are united by common aspirations and
ideals, including a desire for closer cooperation, but they are
divided by different national traditions, customs and cultural
3.1.3. The Committee endorses the Commission’s view that heritage. Progress towards political union can only be made if
one of the greatest, most urgent, most compelling and most
difficult challenges is to overcome the disenchantment of
European citizens with the European project, a reaction which
is manifested both in the disappointing turnout at European (1) CdP (99) 750.
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/137

it takes proper account of national differences. The problem is The Commission has said that its document is
less one of anti-Europeanism than of Europeans with very strategic in nature, deliberately eschewing any discussion of
different visions of the future. In evolving a European strategy the methodology by which it will implement the policy
it is essential to take account of the fact that Europe’s diversity objectives which it has set out; this will be the subject of a
of peoples and cultures is a source of richness and strength series of annual documents dealing with the operational
rather than of division and mistrust. implementation of its five-year plan. The ESC respects this
position and will not seek to comment on matters of
methodology in advance of the publication of these annual
documents. The ESC would expect to be asked for an opinion
on these annual documents when they are published and
would welcome being consulted in the course of their prep-
3.1.6. There is a general wish in Europe for democratisation aration; it also declares itself available to issue own-initiative
of the decision-making processes, the transparency of public opinions on their subject matter.
administration and the involvement of the Civil Society. A
European Civil Society is undoubtedly emerging and is in the
process of organising itself at a European level, even if it is at
present largely unstructured and unfocused. The problem with
the emergence of this Civil Society is that it has no institutional 3.1.8. From whatever perspective one views the current
rooting. The other elements of organised Civil Society need to situation, it is manifest that there is an urgent need to rebuild
take their place alongside the established organisms of the civil the confidence of the citizens of Europe in the processes by
dialogue, such as the economic and social partners. which they are governed. One way of achieving this is by
involving organised Civil Society more closely in the decision-
making process. Another essential element is for Europe to be
seen to be delivering tangible benefits to its citizens. Moreover,
it is necessary that these benefits should be relevant to the The challenge must be to secure the effective concerns and preoccupations of the citizens themselves.
participation of this Civil Society in the governance of Europe.
Europe functions according to a pyramidal system which
creates, among other things, a top-down approach. There is a
need to integrate the Community processes into the European
society of the twenty-first century rather than, as at present,
3.1.9. It is necessary to view the European Union as
attempting to integrate organised Civil Society into the Com-
resting on three pillars; the economic pillar, the political and
munity process. The institutionalised process of decision
administrative pillar and the pillar of Civil Society. The
making must be shared both with the social and economic
economic pillar is the foundation on which the other pillars
actors and with the other members of organised Civil Society.
rest because, without economic prosperity, Europe will not
The process of dialogue between the governors and the
have the wherewithal to develop the policies and to create the
governed must become bottom-up rather than top-down.
structures which it needs or to fulfil the objectives which the
There is a need for a renewal of the methods and tools of
Commission has set for itself. The political and administrative
pillar consists of the European institutions and the Member
State authorities on national, regional and local levels. The
Civil Society comprises all the elements of society as defined
in the ESC opinion of 22 September 1999 (1). The Committee is ready and able — drawing on its
long experience and in cooperation with major civil society
organisations — to frame and present to the Commission
proposals for effective forms and methods of participation.
(1) ‘Civil society is a collective term for all types of social action, by
individuals or groups, that do not emanate from the state and are
not run by it. (...)
Civil society organisations include:
— the so-called labour-market players, i.e. the social partners;
— organisations representing social and economic players, which
3.1.7. It must also be recognised that there is an uneasy are not social partners in the strict sense of the term;
division of power and responsibility between European insti- — NGOs (non-governmental organisations) which bring people
tutions, particularly the Commission, and the Member States. together in a common cause, such as environmental organis-
The Commission document makes clear its determination to ations, human rights organisations, consumer associations,
set the agenda for the political future of Europe but the charitable organisations, educational and training organis-
ultimate legislative power in Europe resides mainly in the ations, etc.;
— CBOs (community-based organisations, i.e. organisations set
Council, which is composed of representatives of the Member up within society at grassroots level which pursue member-
States, which may have different priorities for the European oriented objectives), e.g. youth organisations, family associ-
project. The extension of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) ations and all organisations through which citizens participate
and full application of the co-decision process between the in local and municipal life;
European Parliament and the Council would alleviate this — religious communities. OJ 329 of 17.11.1999, point 5.1 and
problem to an extent. 8.1.’
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3.1.10. The ESC recognises the need for it, in common The opinion also posited the need for a new
with other European institutions, to adapt to the challenges paradigm for government itself, stating that, ‘The classical view
which Europe is now facing. It is aware that this will require that the State is sovereign as a service provider must be
changes within the Committee as well as a reorientation of its superseded by a cooperative relationship between the State
relationships with the other institutions. The Committee and Society. The public expects from the State not only that
recently adopted an opinion (1) which mooted the possible rules and regulations are observed but also that services are
establishment, within the ESC, of a ’Civil society observatory’ provided properly and efficiently.’ It held that a modernising
to introduce initiatives for developing the civil dialogue and policy by the State must be focused more on decentralised
enhancing the Committee’s role as a forum for developing the cooperation networks and give greater prominence to econ-
participation of organised Civil Society representatives in the omic efficiency and efficacy, including greater efficiency in
democratic process. administrative implementation and weighing the economic
case for alternative methods of application.

4. Specific comments The opinion proposed the following agenda for the
Lisbon Summit:

— adapt the social model(s) to the new paradigm;
4.1. Strategic objectives 2000-2005

— achieve mass training in information society technologies;
4.1.1. The Committee sees the Presidency Conclusions of
the Lisbon European Council as being a development of the
Commission’s strategic objectives in setting the agenda for — popularise and facilitate the growth of the enterprise
transition to a competitive, dynamic and knowledge-based culture;
economy, modernising the European social model and over-
coming social exclusion.
— help established companies to convert to the new para-
4.1.2. The Committee notes with particular interest the
‘new open method of coordination’ and the appeal made to
the social partners and the rest of organised civil society to — adapt education and training to the new paradigm;
take part in implementation of the policies through different
forms of partnership formulated in Lisbon.
— harness sustainable development for innovation and
4.1.3. In its opinion on ‘Employment, economic reform
and social cohesion — towards a Europe of innovation and
knowledge’ (2) the ESC developed the idea of a ‘new paradigm’
for achieving growth without inflation through: 4.1.4. To a large extent, the Lisbon Summit dealt with these
issues and in a manner consistent with the Committee’s
opinion. In doing so, it took the proposals contained in the
— maximising economic development while minimising Commissions document on its strategic objectives 2000-2005
social exclusion and conflict; to a new level. In the process, it marked a completely new and
fresh approach to policy-making in Europe, with the European
— providing a competitive economy while sustaining a Council taking the lead. It showed governments taking
competitive social model; responsibility for the formulation of economic policy.

— optimising the utilisation of new technologies in a
strategy which is sustainable for the social and natural The Commission document makes it plain that the
environment and resources; Commission sees itself as the source of Europe’s collective
vision and the driving force for change, as well as its executive
— securing sustainability with the development of a partici- arm. However, the recent Lisbon European Council exercised
patory culture and an appropriate corporate culture based its role to the full setting the political agenda.
upon a creative approach to life-long learning and
solidarity. The European Council’s new prominence reflects
the determination of the governments to remain sovereign in
matters of policy. In this context, the Lisbon decision to
(1) OJ C 268 of 19.9.2000. institute regular European Council meetings each Spring to
(2) OJ C 117 of 26.4.2000. oversee the political strategy is especially significant. Even if
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/139

the performance of other institutions improves as a result of be improved but that is a matter for the Member States and, in
the changes which the Commission is proposing, European the view of the Committee, should remain so. The ESC would
Councils are likely to play a greater role in future. welcome proposals from the Member States to improve the
representation of organised Civil Society within its member-
ship but stresses that the tripartite nature of the Committee is
an essential feature which must be preserved. The Committee This begs the question of the role of the European would then serve as a forum through which the participation
Parliament (EP), which is a European institution composed of of organised Civil Society in the European legislative process
directly-elected members but with limited legislative powers. can be given real meaning. The ESC could also exercise
Whether the EP is constitutionally or functionally capable at the role of regulating consultation processes, channelling
present of taking the role of shaping the direction of European information up from organised Civil Society to the institutions
policy is open to question but, if it is not, then it is at least and in the reverse direction.
arguable that this function should reside with the Council
rather than the Commission and the events in Lisbon suggest
that the Council is prepared to shoulder this responsibility.

4.1.7. The European project has followed a trajectory from
4.1.5. As the European Commission’s Forward Studies Unit negative integration to positive (1) integration. At the outset,
has recognised (1), decision-making at the European level is a the project was concerned with the removal of barriers to, for
labyrinthine and confusing process which even experts struggle example, the Single Market, and to guarantee the four free-
to comprehend. The fact that there may be democratic doms; this was negative integration. As the project progressed.
representation at the stage of formal decision (the Council) is However, it became clear that the completion of a genuine
seen to be inadequate where there are problems with both the European Union required active intervention in more and
earlier and the later stages of the process — stages which are more policy areas not strictly necessary to the first stage of
increasingly understood to be equally determinant of eventual European integration, centred as it was on the construction of
outcomes. a common economic area. To tackle the problem of the ‘democratic deficit’,
reforms are required which do not aim to achieve legitimacy
by focusing on the moment of decision-making but by This raises an issue which the Commission docu-
enhancing participation at every stage of the process. ment does not address, that of subsidiarity. On the one hand,
Member States recognise the advantages in sharing sovereignty
in areas where there is already significant inter-dependence.
But, in the context of positive integration across a growing The incorporation of organised Civil Society into range of policy areas, the vertical structure, faces an account-
the decision-making process is a vital component of participa- ability gap that can no longer be defended on the grounds of
tive democracy according to the European democratic model. the over-riding demands of the European project. On the other
It would not suffice for the Commission to consult with a few hand, in areas where there is a public demand for European
representative civil society organisations of its choosing. Nor action — that is, where it is readily understood to be necessary
would it improve the situation if the ‘consultation’ were to and, therefore, legitimate — the EU is perceived to be weak. In
consist of canvassing support for already-established positions. such areas as common foreign and security policy coordinated
For true transparency to exist, organised Civil Society must action is seen to be necessary and desirable but the EU appears
have not only the opportunity to participate but the means to to find this extremely difficult to deliver (1).
measure the effectiveness of its participation. This involves a
duty on the Commission to explain to those bodies which
have made representations on legislative proposals how their
representations have influenced the proposals or why they
have not been taken up. The President of the European Commission, Mr
Prodi has identified the next tasks of the European Union as
moving from a single market and a single currency towards a
single economy and a single political structure. Such a move
4.1.6. The ESC has a particular interest in this issue because
can be characterised as involving further progress along the
it is the only European institution which is composed of trajectory of positive integration. This may be difficult for
representatives of organisations drawn from organised Civil many of the candidate countries to achieve and even within
Society. It is conscious of the fact that its representativity could
the existing Member States there are some which might find
this process to be politically unacceptable from a national
standpoint. This raises the prospect of a ‘two-tier Europe’ with
different groups of countries advancing at different speeds.
There must be a question-mark over the risks and challenges
(1) CdP (99) 750. raised by such a scenario.
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4.1.8. In order for European integration to succeed, it is way in which it exercises its stewardship; the people are not
essential to put the European citizen at the centre of the stage. subservient to the State. The process of governance must be
One of the Commission’s declared aims is to improve the decentralised as far as possible. At every institutional level
quality of life. The key to this is that it must be a better quality there are specific responsibilities and powers, which must be
of life for all and in every aspect, food quality, the environment, subject to suitable arrangements to allow for dialogue with
protection from crime, employment, standard of living, pro- citizens and their participation. In the organisational structure
moting integration between the ethnic groups of Europe and of European governance, the various levels of power are
the prevention of discrimination and social exclusion. As Mr required to co-operate for the greater interest of European
Prodi has said, ‘Europe must be built by the citizens for citizens, failing which, European integration would have no
the citizens’ and this must be reflected in all Commission added value for democracy.
documents. The Committee regrets that the Commission only
touches on the problems in this target area, but does not really
4.1.9. The ESC agrees with the Commission’s identification
propose a strategy for action. This suggests that it (still) does of the major challenges which Europe faces at this juncture.
not have a coherent blueprint for relations with European
However, certain problems of a significant nature, such as the
citizens. The Committee is ready and expects to be involved at demographic situation, are barely mentioned.
an early stage in drawing up such a blueprint for a dialogue
with citizens and cooperation with organised civil society, so
that it can contribute its ideas. 4.1.10. The Commission declares its intention to make
Europe a global actor with a political weight commensurate The Commission document makes much of the with its economic strength; if this is its objective then its first
need to talk to Europe’s citizens but it is equally important to priority should be to increase that economic strength to the
listen to them. The Commission’s watchword should be ‘To maximum extent. Globalisation is an opportunity but an
govern is to serve’. In a democratic society, the government is opportunity which is not seized becomes a threat. Europe does
the servant of the people and is accountable to them for the not need dreams — it needs vision.

Brussels, 19 October 2000.

The President
of the Economic and Social Committee