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Anger at European Commission's misrepresentation of views on its draft strategy for 2020

Social and environmental organisations have reacted angrily to claims by the European Commission that they "broadly support" draft plans for the EU's Strategy 2020.  This overview misrepresents the views of major networks of organisations working with those who are poor and excluded across the EU. In turn this misrepresentation calls into question the commitment of the Commission to develop an acceptable strategy for 2020; it also call into questions the willingness of those involved to give serious consideration to views other than their own.

The overview stated that stakeholders specialising in social issues used the consultation process to repeat their criticism that the draft strategy is "too narrow" in scope. This is true. (The negative response by stakeholders was based on their conviction that a strategy for 2020 that does not address social, economic and environmental issues in an integrated manner is a deeply flawed strategy.) However, the report went on to claim that these groups broadly supported its proposed priorities. This is untrue.  

Put simply, the Commission's overview paper stated that Non-Governmental sector "broadly supports" the Commission's proposals, when the opposite is true: many social actors find the social dimension of EU 2020 to be virtually absent. In response, several of these networks (Caritas Europa, EAPN, COFACE, AGE and Mental Health Europe) reacted publicly to express their dismay at seeing their views distorted. 

The misrepresentation in the Commission's publication is a matter of concern for two reasons:
1.The overview of the public consultation will be given as a background document to heads of state and government for next week's European Council. In no way can civil society accept that the illusion of consensus is created when, in the current climate of belt-tightening, the divisions are probably wider than ever.

2.Public consultations should be treated with the greatest respect, as they are a unique opportunity for EU institutions to connect with citizens, their organisations and society at large. A rushed consultation, followed in less than three weeks' time by a "rosy" overview document, is not a demonstration of good governance especially when you consider what's at stake i.e. a decision on the EU priorities for the next decade.
This raises very serious questions concerning the democratic deficit in the EU.

An evaluation of the Lisbon strategy can be accessed by clicking on the area highlighted.

Commision consultation document can be accessed here