Fabian Demicoli

MCESD- Models of Social and Civil Dialogue in Europe Seminar

 MCESD- Malta Council for Economic and Social Development is holding a series of seminars funded by ESF -European Social Fund through the project closer to Europe. This seminar entitled models of social and civil dialogue in Europe aimed to focus on how European member states can combat poverty and social exclusion.

 

Two representatives from GRTU attended to this seminar held on the 17th and 18th of November at the Palace Hotel. The seminars' main speaker was Fintan Farrell-Director General of European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) since June 2002.

Fintan Farrell is involved in Partnership 2000 – an agreement done in Ireland. It consisted of an independent tribunal on education and discrimination regulations. This agreement was concerned on social welfare and its main objective was to reach and create an equal society for all citizens. Mr. Farrell is a great believer in participation and has contributed to the development of this practice, which seeks to empower people experiencing poverty and social exclusion.

The aim of the seminar was to enhance the quality of social and civil dialogue in Malta. Some of the examples that lead to social and civil dialogue are:

  • Local Traveler Accommodation Consultative Committees
  • National Social Partnership Agreements
  • The open method of coordination on social protection and social inclusion
  • Regular structured dialogue with the European Parliament

 

 

Such dialogue can cover more aspects from over-changing society rather than focusing only on poverty and social exclusion. Civil and social dialogue enhance participatory democracy meaning a societal model that seeks to extend this fear of participation and people's power to take decisions for themselves beyond traditional policy making. It is a notion that is becoming more forward: more factors influencing Government decision making. More citizens are being involved in their country development.

During this seminar, training programmes were done to achieve more close experiences of each of the participants. Small groups were formed to share experiences on how they were involved on social and civil dialogue. Groups were formed to share experiences on how they were involved in social and civil dialogue. Groups were formed from different people with different age groups. This helped us in gathering experiences from others and in amalgamating ideas.

These groups were also formed to express what we as Maltese want and expect from social and civil dialogue.

Some of the main factors highlighted were:

  • Proposals and listening
  • Commitment to reach compromise
  • Progress, feedback and listened to
  • Information and experts
  • Respect and Action

 

 

 

Groups were also asked to discuss and try to reach a close definition of social and civil dialogue. The group in which GRTU representatives participated came up with the most close and appropriate definition as per Mr. Farrell, speaker of the seminar. The definition was: "People want to be informed as part of a transparent society in which they trust and engage in a dialogue of mutual understanding and respect leading to an effective action and solidarity".

No common definition is reached even internationally on what social and civil dialogue is but it is recognized both locally and internationally, more people are having more ideas about how we can develop civil and social dialogue. Civil dialogue is the public authority while social dialogue is like an intermediary that negotiates with the authorities.

The international labour organizations identified a very broad definition why it is difficult to find a proper definition. The ILO defines civil dialogue as: "A component and a tool of participatory democracy with the public makers as the interlocutor. It defines the relationship between public decision makes and organized civil society. While as to social dialogue it is defined as: "To include all types of negotiations consultation or simply exchange of Information between or among representatives of Governments, Employers and Workers on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy."

Civil and Social Dialogue are meant to achieve more equality between citizens. It was concluded that more common democracy is being done so that the common good is reached rather than using individual ways of dialogues.

Civil Society today is more visible, more organized and more vibrant than ever before. And yet, despite an increasing number of consultations, there is a little shared understanding of what is meant by civil dialogue, civil society and participatory democracy. The emergence of civil society is one of the key features of modern democracies, whether at community, local, national or international level. Ultimately, engaging civil society in the daily life and the political process is a very effective way to promote social cohesion, solidarity and social justice, creating a better quality of life for everyone.

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