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Civil Society under the Treaty of Lisbon: Relationship between National Public Benefit Organizations and European Union Policy?
1University of Amsterdam
Citation Information: Nonprofit Policy Forum. Volume 2, Issue 2, Pages –, ISSN (Online) 2154-3348, DOI: 10.2202/2154-3348.1026, November 2011
- Published Online:
The active involvement of European citizens became a new form of democracy in the Treaty of Lisbon of 2009 by the introduction of a whole new chapter dedicated to this purpose. There is an article that obligates the Commission to give serious consideration to the demands of one million citizens from a significant number of Member States. The treaty also provides for a better role of NGOs such as foundations and associations. However, there are uncertainties concerning the definition and the nature of the concept of civil society of which NGOs may be regarded as typical. The European Union gives as leading principle of civil society the concept of voluntariness. Currently, the legal typology of NGOs in the European Union is determined by national laws of the Member State. The present forms of NGOs show great differences regarding formal requirements. There is a variety of legal forms available in EU Member States for public benefit organizations as typical civil society organizations. In the concept of European Union governance there are different concepts about which role civil society could or ought to play in Europes governance structure. One of these concepts is that the European Union cooperates with the national civil society institutions through partnership agreements. However, the European Union provides no indication of ways to measure whether an organization can be considered as a public benefit organization. Also, the supervising competences in the EU Member States are different. As a result of these the participatory democracy in the EU does not reflect the power of Europes civil society.