‘Involve civil societies in EU-India discourse’

September 28th, 2008 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Sep 28 (IANS) The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called on the European Union (EU) and India to involve civil societies in their decision making processes. “In a democracy it is vital to listen to and acknowledge the views of civil society and to engage citizens in a society’s vision,” Madi Sharma, chair of the EU-India follow-up group on the EESC, told EuAsiaNews.

The call comes ahead of the ninth EU-India summit to be held in French city of Marseilles Monday.

“The role played by civil society in bilateral negotiations is underestimated and rarely present at such high level debates. Both Europe and India profess to consult with civil society and so representatives should be invited as part of the process to ensure transparency and active participation,” she said.

On the key topic of climate change, the EESC recommends that a partnership on climate change and energy must not be limited to intergovernmental partnership but must include a civil society dimension, Sharma said.

She also said that the EESC welcomes the launching of the negotiations of the broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement between the EU and India, and urges the negotiators to fully involve their respective civil societies in monitoring progress.

We want the governments to facilitate the development of trade at the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) level through more transparency and harmonisation of trade and investment rules, Sharma said and added that the EESC “proposes the setting-up of an EU-India business support centre for SMEs”.

The EESC is a consultative body that gives representatives of the Europe’s socio-occupational interest groups a formal platform to express their points of views on EU issues.

The EU-India civil society round table last met in Paris in July. The decision to set it up was taken at the first EU-India summit in Lisbon in June 2000. The first meeting of the EU-India Round Table was held in New Delhi in January 2001.

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