European manifesto proposals challenged

European commissioner for civil society 'might fragment concerns', say experts

The EU manifesto issued by a group of voluntary sector umbrella bodies last month has been criticised by other sector experts on Europe.

The manifesto's principal demands were for a European commissioner for civil society and an 'intergroup' of MEPs to put civil society on the agenda in the European Parliament (24 March, page 4).

Hanneke de Bode, an adviser for Euclid - a European leaders network set up by chief executives body Acevo - said civil society already came under the intergroup for social economy.

She said a civil society intergroup would not completely overlap with it but "might further fragment and debilitate civil society's just concerns".

Haroon Saad, director of the European Regeneration Areas Network and an independent candidate for the European Parliament, questioned the proposal for a commissioner.

"It's a non-starter because he or she would be powerless without a directorate," he said. "And there's not going to be a directorate because there's not going to be any more money."

Oliver Henman, European and international officer at umbrella body the NCVO - part of the team that drew up the manifesto - said the social economy group traditionally focused on big cooperatives and social enterprises.

But he said he would ask it if it was willing to pick up on 'charter' issues such as a European Compact.

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