SOLIDAR: NGO Advocacy for Social Justice in Europe
Lobbying, advocacy, and networking are the key strands of the work on which representatives and leaders of civil society organizations (CSOs) like SOLIDAR are focusing on. SOLIDAR does not necessarily defend a particular interest but is motivated by and subject to the general interest. For more than 20 years, NGOs and CSOs have been active at European level and structured in many different ways as sectorial or horizontal coordination in the main fields of civic engagement. The Lisbon Treaty and its Article 11 have set an institutional frame for the civil dialogue mechanisms although the practice still remains very heterogenous. Dialogue continues to be misunderstood as consultation and communication from the European institutions toward the organized civil society, whereas accompanying the legislative and political processes at European level, raising awareness of their constituencies, and developing common position for policy recommendations remain the core of their work. The list of processes, consultations, and sectors is quite extensive; the work will continue as European CSOs intervene at any stage to defend the general interest and the public good based on their values, convictions, and the competences of their network members. The responsibility lies at building bridges between policy-making at European level, our constituencies, and society. In this sense we make the difference with professional lobbyists that defend only a particular, often business-driven interest.