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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 16: The Third Sector and the Brussels Dimension: Trans-EU Governance Work in Progress

Jeremy Kendall, Catherine Will and Taco Brandsen


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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