"A vibrant and independent civil society is an essential ingredient of effective and stable democracy."
A vibrant and independent civil society is an essential ingredient of effective and stable democracy. The EU has for many years sought to incorporate the input and views of civil society in its foreign policy.
During my mandate, I have ensured that civil society remains a central pillar of our external relations. Civil society organisations are our partners when advocating human rights around the globe or designing programmes for women’s empowerment. Today, we fund a wide array of NGOs and seek the views of civil society organisations both at headquarters and in the field. On my trips overseas, I meet NGO representatives to hear from them how they see political as well as economic developments on the ground.
In Brussels, I have sought to ensure that the EU engages civil society in a more systematic way; in 2012, European foreign ministers adopted conclusions on Europe's engagement with civil society in external relations, thus renewing EU policy in support of civil society.