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- To attend meetings, you need to register as a civil society organisation.
1. Consult widely in the framework of a confident working relationship
The European Commission is committed to consulting interested parties when drafting policy and proposing action. Consultation with civil society is a fundamental part of EU policy-making, as set out in the Transparency register (TR). With this in mind, the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission conducts a Civil Society Dialogue. Under this dialogue, the Commission holds regular, structured meetings on trade policy issues of interest to a wider audience. DG Trade aims to promote an active and inclusive participation of civil society through this process. The European Commissioner for Trade or officials of DG Trade attend these meetings to inform, listen to and exchange views with civil society organisations. Civil society organisations attending represent a wide variety of institutions and organisations, which include non-governmental organisations working on topics as diverse as consumer protection, the environmental protection, animal welfare, human rights and humanitarian aid, as well as organised labour and employers’ associations and the European Economic and Social Committee.
2. Address civil society concerns on trade policy
The European Commission is aware that globalisation has effects that raise questions and concerns on topics such as the environmental protection, labour rights, competitiveness, poverty, or animal welfare. That is why it makes available time and resources to find out more about these concerns, to debate the issues, to answer questions if possible, and to take up suggestions for action. The aim is to have an ongoing debate by organising meetings on topics of current concern. An informal contact group, comprising representatives from each of the broad categories of organisations involved in the process, helps to coordinate the process by selecting topics and structuring meetings. Each contact group member circulates information to his or her constituents in their cluster of sectorial organisations.
3. Improve EU trade policy-making through structured and qualitative dialogue
The CSD aims at promoting a good quality exchange through the sharing of best practice and knowledge with civil society. Listening to opinions and knowledge from civil society is important to the European Commission. Debating the questions that are shaping public opinion is a way of updating and strengthening its knowledge base. Such questions have an influence on public understanding and acknowledgement of trade policy. It is thus essential to identify them, to take them into account and to respond to them when making policy. DG Trade regularly provides feedbacks and outcomes of the meetings organised with the Civil Society.
4. Improve transparency and accountability
The European Commission considers that transparency is essential for mutual understanding and acceptability of policy in any area. Compliance with high standards of transparency is important for the legitimacy and accountability of any modern administration.
That is why the Commission has made efforts to improve transparency in the way EU trade policy is developed. Engaging in dialogue with civil society and making documents available on the website are two ways to help achieve this.
The Trade Civil Society Dialogue should be seen in the context of the Transparency register (TR). The TR aims to foster a confident working relationship between the European institutions and civil society. Civil society organisations ("interest representatives") are required to enlist in the TR register as a commitment to the integrity and openness of their activities with the European Union.