Foundations are set to focus on European citizens’ apparent crisis of confidence in the European Union at the 2006 European Foundation Centre (EFC) Annual General Assembly (AGA) and Conference, ‘Foundations for Europe: Supporting European Citizens’ Participation’, to be held 26-28 May in Brussels, Belgium.
At the event, foundations will examine how they can bring their independent resources and expertise, as well as their convening capacity, to bear on increasing European citizens’ participation. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will give the keynote address.
Concerned by the ‘No’ votes on the EU Constitution in France and the Netherlands in May and June this year, EFC members want to help bridge the apparently widening gulf between Europe’s citizens and their public institutions. In June 2005 EFC members issued a statement and launched a programme of actions and initiatives in support of European citizenship.
As part of these efforts, the EFC and its members will be organizing a series of events in the run-up to the 2006 AGA and Conference. The Secretariat is gathering information on actions by EFC members in support of European citizenship which will feed into the Brussels meeting.
The EFC is also working with the European Commission on joint initiatives with foundations to mobilize support in this area. This partnership, which emerged from a May 2005 meeting between EFC members and Mr Barroso, focuses on the key areas of culture, science and research, and promoting synergies to advance the Millennium Development Goals. At the May meeting, Mr Barroso also backed the idea of an optional European Statute for Foundations to underpin foundations’ cross-border activities.