Act4Europe » Act4Europe campaign » Action Calls » Letter campaign for the start of the IGC
Letter campaign for the start of the IGC
In September 2003 act4europe launched its first campaign call for the IGC: "Those responsible for conducting the IGC need to know that NGOs and Unions are watching them closely and that we take a strong interest in a future Constitution that reflects peopleï¿½s rights and interests. After the more or less transparent process of the Convention, civil society will not accept 'horsetrading' behind closed doors that risks to loose or not improve on rights, values, and policies we have fought for. It is absolutely crucial to act at national and local level now. The pressure needs to come from the people Foreign Ministers and Heads of State directly represent." The action call contained a list of lobbying steps, a sample letter, and a list of the core demands made by the NGO sectors in the Civil Society Contact Group.
"If you want to participate in the campaign, please consider the following steps:
Write a letter
We attach a sample letter for the campaign. You can certainly add your particular claims for improvement of the draft Constitution to it if you wish. Decide whether you want to demand a public hearing or meeting with the Foreign Minister. If so add that to the letter.
Translate it into your language
Send the letter to your Foreign Minister
Call the Ministry and find our which civil servant(s) work on the IGC. Try and talk to them about the process, copy them into the letter
Make contact with friendly MPs who might be willing to co-sign the letter or send the Foreign Minister a copy with a cover letter from them stating their support for your overall concerns. MPs get proper written answers, you might not. MPs from the same party as the Minister, if friendly to your concern, are your best bet.
Send the letter to your Head of State
Again try and identify the person in the Prime MinisterÂ’s office in charge for the work on the IGC. Copy her or him into the letter.
Enlist the help of as many MPs as you to make sure your letter is treated seriously.
Send the letter to your ex Convention Members and those MPs who take an interest in the IGC.
Work with the press
There will be high media interest around the start of the IGC on 4 October. Utilize that for a press release or for liaising with friendly journalists who might include your demands in their articles or indeed support the demand for a public hearing or official meetings with civil society.
If you need further advice on strategy, please refer to our toolkit on the IGC under the section 'lobbying'.
Dear (Member of the Parliament, Commissioner, Member of the European Parliament- use titles as appropriate in your country)
[change the text in Italics to best suit your organization]
I am/we are writing to you on behalf of (). We are jointly participating in the European wide act4europe campaign, an alliance of environment, social, human rights, and development NGOs as well as trade unions which has been monitoring the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe and now of the Intergovernmental Conference.
A key demand and expectation shared by all NGO sectors is that the IGC should not retreat behind closed door meetings, but continue the open and transparent working method initiated by the Convention on the Future of Europe. We hope that the IGC and subsequent ratification process will implement the spirit of the new draft article on participatory democracy through a regular, open, and transparent dialogue with representative organizations of civil society.
Civil society is very concerned that the IGC will in the name of national interests 'horsetrade' a Constitution that does not present a text fit for the 21st century. We strongly ask you to ensure the creation of a rights and values based democratic Constitution with which people in Europe can identify and that clearly recognizes their diversities and needs in a spirit of global solidarity.
Additionally, a rights and values based European Constitution has to provide the tools and mechanisms to politically and legally safeguard and concretely implement those rights and values an area which received too little attention during the Convention. We urge you to strengthen the rights and values related to development in Part I and guarantee the coherence between the rights and values set out in Parts I and II, and the policy tools in Part III relating to social, environmental, and human rights.
[If you wish, raise your specific demands here with regard to the Constitution]
Please supply us as soon as possible with the following information: How and when do you intend to give civil society in our country about the IGC process and an opportunity for input into the debate? How will you guarantee a rights/values based text? How will you ensure that the mechanisms of political and legal implementation of these rights and values receive adequate attention during the IGC to achieve better coherence?
Looking forward to your response
The NGO setors' demands in a nutshell
The listed bullet points are strategic campaign and foci points of the NGO sectors. They are, therefore, not exhaustive of all the demands made regarding the draft Constitution nor are they necessarily more important than other concerns listed by the sectors. Please refer to our toolkit for a longer version of the main concerns and to our web site for the comprehensive documents of the NGO sectors.
The Civil Society Contact Group calls on the IGC to:
Rewrite of several chapters in the draft Constitution on policies, making them coherent with the principle of sustainable development, especially in the field of agriculture, cohesion, transport and trade policies.
Underline the importance of the accountability of the EU institutions to EU citizens and the need for access to the European Courts for citizens and their organizations, especially in the environmental field, in line with the Aarhus UN-ECE convention.
Support a plea for consistency in the use of the legislative procedure: environmental measures that are of a fiscal nature or deal with land-use should follow the ordinary legislative procedure of majority voting in Council and co-decision with the Parliament.
Attach a Protocol on Sustainable Development, as proposed by the European Commission.
Safeguard the positive outcomes from the Convention which include the placing of poverty eradication as an overarching aim for the Union, the principle of policy coherence and the recognition of development co-operation and humanitarian aid as shared competence of the Union.
Maintain the clear definition of legal chapters on development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, and co-operation with other third countries reached by the Convention.
Ensure that Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid is not subordinated to EU foreign, security or commercial policy agendas. EU aid is not a tool or instrument for projecting Europe's self-interest.
Guarantee the rights and values established within the draft Constitution by the Convention.
Introduce majority voting for the anti-discrimination Article, in place of unanimity (III-8).
Introduce a new mechanism to allow future amendments of Part III of the draft Constitution (policies) without the need for a full IGC.
Ensure adequate policies that can guarantee full and inclusive observance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by member states and at EU level.
Ensure adequate policies to pursue a more effective human rights policy across the full spectrum of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, as an indispensable part of all the EU's external relations.
Ensure accession by the EU not only to the ECHR but also to the European Social Charter and to other international human rights instruments, for full EU accountability under international law.