Caring for Europe
The government of the Netherlands has asked the Netherlands Council for Social Development (Raad voor Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling, RMO) to issue a report on the theme of ‘tailoring European social policy’ (see Appendix 1). In doing so the RMO has focused on the perspective of European citizenship, working from the principle that strengthening European citizenship – the active support and involvement of citizens in the European project – is a necessary condition for the further development of the European Union. The imminent enlargement of the EU increases the urgency of this goal.
The RMO will publish two reports on this issue. The main purpose of the present report is to set out the perspective taken by the RMO and to provide the government with a number of recommendations on how to involve the Dutch in the European Union. In this respect, the report reflects the intention expressed by the present government in its coalition agreement (Hoofdlijnenakkoord) to use the upcoming Dutch presidency of the EU to strengthen the sense of involvement in Europe of the Dutch citizen.
The second report, due for publication in the first half of 2004, will present the RMO’s perspective in greater detail. The RMO will consider the prospects for a European social policy. Thereby, it will take into account the European Convention’s proposal for a European constitution for the Union and the Intergovernmental Conference to be held on this subject.
In the course of producing this report we are pleased to acknowledge the contributions provided by external experts. The international Centre of the Netherlands Institute for Care and Welfare (Nederlands Instituut voor Zorg en Welzijn, NIZW) has carried out a quick scan of the efforts undertaken by the European Union and its Member States to involve citizens in the EU (see Appendix 2). By way of illustration, this study presents activities developed in six EU Member States and in the EU itself in recent years to get citizens more involved in Europe. Where possible, the effects achieved by these efforts are also described. In addition, a meeting was held at the end of June 2003 in which the report under development was discussed with a panel of experts. The list of experts consulted in the preparation of this report is included in Appendix 3 of the Dutch version.