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Handbook on Third Sector Policy in Europe

Multi-level Processes and Organized Civil Society

Edited by Jeremy Kendall

While scholarship on the social, economic and political contributions of organisations existing between the market and the state has proliferated in recent years, no sustained attention has previously been paid to how such organisations are collectively treated by, and respond to, public policy. The expert contributors examine the policy environment for, and evolving policy treatment of, the third sector in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom from a comparative perspective. They also look at how the third sector relates to multi-level European policy processes, including the Open Method of Co-ordination, the Community Method, nationally-led ‘partnership’ approaches within an overall EU framework and the United Nations International Year of Volunteering; an initiative implemented in the EU but originating externally.
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Chapter 14: A New Settlement for Europe: Towards ‘Open, Transparent and Regular Dialogue with Representative Associations and Civil Society’?

Catherine Will and Jeremy Kendall


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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