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1. We want to listen and engage with civil society on trade issues

The European Commission is committed to consulting interested parties when drawing up policy and proposing action. DG Trade's Civil Society Dialogue involves regular, structured meetings to discuss trade policy issues. The European Commissioner for Trade or DG Trade officials attend the meetings and inform participants of the ongoing developments in EU trade policy, and listen to and exchange views with them. DG Trade encourages broad representation in order to hear diverse opinions and encourages civil society to participate actively in the meetings.

2. We want to address civil society's concerns on trade issues

Globalisation has been happening for centuries, but its quickening pace in recent years has given rise to questions and concerns on a wide range of topics. People are rightly keen to ensure that trade policy does not negatively affect environmental protection, labour rights, competitiveness, poverty, and animal welfare. We believe it is important to make time and resources available to debate the issues, answer questions and discuss possible course of action. We organise meetings on topics of current interest. The topics are chosen together with an informal contact group, comprising one representative from each of the broad categories of organisations involved in the civil society dialogue. Each contact group member circulates information to their constituents in their area of activity.

3. We want to improve understanding on policy implementation

We want to have a good discussion with civil society on the basis of sharing knowledge and best practice. We value the opinions and expertise of civil society: debating topical issues that are shaping public opinion is an important way of updating, strengthening and deepening our knowledge base. Such issues influence public perceptions of trade policy, so it is essential to discuss them, take them into account and to respond to them when formulating policy. We regularly provide feedback on the meetings organised with civil society and the minutes are posted on the DG Trade website.

4. We want to be transparent and accountable to civil society

Transparency is an essential part of good public administration and of public policy, including trade policy. The European Commission is committed to improving transparency in the way EU trade policy is developed. Dialogue with civil society and posting documents on the DG Trade website are two ways we can do this. The Transparency Register is an important element in transparency because it requires civil society to be open about their aims and how they are funded.