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"No society is strong if it is not […] an open society, a participatory society" and for this reason the EU supports and invests in the role of civil society within and beyond its borders.
Speaking at the European Economic and Social Committee's Civil Society Days in Brussels yesterday, High Representative Mogherini highlighted how "civil society is one of the most active fora for political participation" and that "we do not need just to have [governmental] institutions supporting civil society, we [also] need civil society supporting good ideas for political solutions".
"The stronger civil society is inside Europe and outside Europe, the stronger societies are, the more open societies are, the stronger institutions become and democratic processes become. And the other way around: strong open institutions, democratic institutions, need the active participation of citizens and the role you are playing inside Europe and, again, outside Europe is key in this respect," Mogherini said.
Actively promoting the role of civil society is a key pillar of the EU's approach to foreign policy, which prioritises partnerships and investment in building the long-term resilience of societies, for their own sake and for regional and global security. In conflict and post-conflict situations for example, the EU depends on civil society representatives for their essential contribution to complex political processes, and "to facilitate local processes of reconciliation to rebuild the fabric of society". From Syria to Iraq to Libya, from Afghanistan to Colombia, "our key interlocutor is always civil society".
Civil society organisations can therefore "count on us inside and outside of the European Union to protect and promote the space for active participation of citizens", said Mogherini – be it in the field of human rights, social and economic rights, democracy and the rule of law, and global governance.