Declaration by EESC President Anne-Marie Sigmund on the eve of the 16-17 European Council meeting
Reference: CES/05/70 Date: 15/06/2005 This week's European Council meeting will address two vitally important issues for the future of the European Union: the financial perspective 2007-2013; and the ratification process for the constitutional treaty. Strong and inspirational leadership is called for in both these areas. Above all, the Heads of State or Government should not forget the importance of explaining the results of their deliberations in such a way as to inform and involve organised civil society. If communicated poorly, good decisions can easily become bad decisions. Moreover, important though the constitutional treaty and the EUs future financing are, it would be a great mistake for the Heads of State or Government to become so distracted by these issues that they neglect the other important points on their agenda, including the stability and growth pact, the Lisbon Strategy, sustainable development, terrorism, and external relations (particularly aid and development). In that context, the European Economic and Social Committee continues its work on the Lisbon Strategy on the basis of the mandate given to it by the Heads of State or Government at their Spring meeting and, in particular, continues to seek ways for organised civil society to be better involved in making the Strategy a success, and thus guaranteeing Europes future prosperity and well being. We believe that here, as in so many areas, a crucial step in bridging the gap between the European Union and its citizens is a closer involvement of organised civil society and, for its part, the European Economic and Social Committee will continue to work towards this end. Civil society must be put back at the heart of Europe.