Letter: Changing social order in Europe

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The Independent Online
From Mr Richard Nobbs

Sir: Andrew Marr ("The rise of do-it-yourself democracy", 18 January) touches upon a phenomenon that is likely to become one of the defining elements of the society to which we are moving: the gathering importance of "the web of social relationships below the level of the state". It is clear there is an increasingly important role played by voluntary associations in the widest sense of the term, including the social partners and professional associations, in giving voice to the interests of their members in the midst of the many structural changes taking place.

If one accepts the thesis that economic performance is inextricably linked with social performance, then it is vital that the voice of the ever-increasing number of non-governmental organisations is heard in policy-making circles. We will not be successful in Europe in our job creation efforts if we cannot carry people with us. Flexible labour markets, new work patterns, new roles for women in work, institutionalised part-time work, whatever the approaches that are favoured, all require adjustments in our social patterns.

This has long been recognised within the Commission of the European Union, and on March 28-30 Commissioner Padraig Flynn will be hosting a European social policy forum here in Brussels where we will be welcoming representatives of all such organisations from all over the European Union precisely in order to hear their views on the new order.

Yours,

Richard Nobbs

Commission of the European Communities

Brussels

19 January

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