National platforms are crucial for strong EU advocacy

4 November 2014

By CONCORD Director Seamus Jeffreson – Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting our member FoRs, the Czech Republic NGO platform in Prague. I’d like to share with you some reflections after productive meetings with representatives from civil society and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

National platforms are crucial for strong EU advocacy

As a confederation made up of 48 member organisations plus 2 associate members, there’s a great deal of diversity in terms of size and funding across our membership at CONCORD.

Our national platforms – the networks for the sector’s NGOs in EU member states – often do a great deal of work with limited resources, including drawing from an important base of volunteers and supporters.

When it comes to EU level advocacy they are our key strength when it comes to getting our voice across to Member States at the European Council level. Their work really benefits CONCORD by making us a real pan-European organisation that can talk in the EU’s 23 languages to decision makers and citizens.

During my time in Prague I met Board members of FoRs and took part in a TRIALOG meeting where I encouraged national platforms from the EU-13 to engage in strategic CONCORD processes to build our common advocacy work. Part of CONCORD’s value to our bigger NGO family members is the advocacy reach provided by the national platforms in all member states. Most of these have good access to ministries and ministers voting on EU polices important to our members like climate change or tax regulations as well as on ODA levels and policies. My discussions reinforced the impression that both the Oxfams and the SKOPs (Maltese Platform) benefit from each other’s membership and work in CONCORD.

All eyes on 2015

I also had the opportunity to meet Czech environmental NGOs from the ‘Green Circle’ who are already collaborating with development NGOs as part of the Beyond 2015 campaign.

The European Year for Development in 2015 will be a key opportunity to continue this kind of interaction, collaboration and relationship building between CSO networks that share common values and objectives.

Already many national platforms are developing their plans for the European Year and look to take part in activities at national level. At the meeting civil society from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Cyprus shared their ideas.

I really look forward to seeing many of these plans materialise in the European Year and the crucial work of our national platforms right across the Confederation being as visible as possible.

Many thanks to my hosts for the thoughtful and stimulating time in beautiful, historic Prague.