Multi-level Processes and Organized Civil Society
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Edited by Jeremy Kendall
Chapter 16: The Third Sector and the Brussels Dimension: Trans-EU Governance Work in Progress
Jeremy Kendall, Catherine Will and Taco Brandsen 16.1 Introduction This chapter reviews the development and current contours of the Brussels third-sectororiented horizontal policy ‘community’. Tracing and seeking to understand the genesis of ‘third sector policy’ and its stakeholders at the EU level provides a greater challenge to the third sector analyst than the equivalent task at national level. As our discussion of the Constitutional Process in Chapter 14 already began to reveal, not only is there more opacity and instability in the use of language than tends to be evident in individual countries: the development of this field takes place against a backdrop of shifts in the competences, priorities and policy instruments that constitute the institutional landscape in Brussels, and has no anchoring roots in a specific national tradition. Perhaps foolishly undaunted by this complex and fluid situation, this chapter will attempt to present an analysis of changes in the political and policy importance of the sector over the last two decades in Brussels, and illustrates how the most popular formulations in the mid-2000s – the third sector as ‘organized civil society’ (OCS) or ‘nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) – connect with the ‘hot’ issues of governance and legitimacy, widely defined (Lord and Magnette, 2004; Heinelt, 2007). It will be argued that what initially appears to be a confused trajectory, with little sense or coherence, is in fact intelligible if it is recognized that the policy in question is evolving in response to a combination of EU institutional and more nationally-rooted pressures and processes....
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