Across the European Union (EU), only just over one third of the more than 30,000 respondents feel that they are well informed about their rights as EU citizens, according to a recent poll. Trust in the European Union has gradually been decreasing over the past few years, although overall it still exceeds citizens’ trust in their national governments. Overall, citizens feel disconnected from the EU institutions and feel that they have little say in EU decision-making processes. On the other hand, however, citizens appear to expect a lot from the EU, for example with regard to effective actions to deal with the effects of the economic crisis. In this context, the EU has been looking at ways to improve the engagement of the public in EU affairs and to increase their participation in EU public policymaking. Civil society organisations play an essential role in these efforts, providing the interface between citizens and the EU institutions.
To further understand the needs of citizens and civil society and to take stock of existing initiatives to improve their active involvement in EU affairs, Directorate General for Communication of the European Commission has commissioned ICF GHK, together with Technopolis, to undertake a study on the establishment of a “European House for Civil Society”. This study first examines whether there is a need for such European House, in the sense of what gaps it would fill and how it would complement other existing initiatives and organisations. It will then asses the feasibility of the project and ultimately examine how the EU could support it. The survey is available here: http://www.ghkint.com/surveys/civilsociety/ (for individual citizens) and http://www.ghkint.com/surveys/civilsocietyorganisations (if you are answering on behalf of a civil society organisation).