Multi-level Processes and Organized Civil Society
Edited by Jeremy Kendall
Chapter 14: A New Settlement for Europe: Towards ‘Open, Transparent and Regular Dialogue with Representative Associations and Civil Society’?
Catherine Will and Jeremy Kendall* 14.1 Introduction Brussels-based organizations, including third sector groups, have learned to see European Union Treaty negotiations as critical punctuation points, where the architecture and tone of European policy-making may be set for several years (Greenwood, 2007, p. 36). Unsurprisingly, therefore, the prospect of a new method – and potentially a novel framework – for structuring the EU’s legal basis and policy process, launched in 2001, generated real and sustained interested across all sectors. As we will see in what follows, the initial ‘constitutional’ process itself unfolded across many months and numerous venues. Yet the proposed constitution was ultimately rejected in 2005 following referenda in France and the Netherlands, replaced after a period of reflection by a ‘Lisbon Reform Treaty’, which was in turn itself rejected in an Irish referendum in 2008. As this volume goes to press, depending on the outcome of a further Irish referendum, and decisions to be made in the Czech Republic and Poland we can say that a modified version of this Treaty may become law in 2010. This would put recognition of associations and civil society within the body of a European Treaty for the first time, as participants in a process of continuous and perspicuous dialogue, as per this chapter’s title. But for the purposes of this chapter, it is important to emphasize that even if this is not the case, the process of attempting to reconstitute or reform the EU’s core ‘hard’ legal underpinnings will have had a range of...
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