ENUSP / meeting at EU Social Platform of NGO's
12 Juni 2012 | België, Brussel
Also, Mr. Jan Verhaegh, Board Member of ENUSP was coming to Brussels.
At 11.00 we had an appointment at the European Social Platform of NGO’s (www.socialplatform.org).
The European Social Platform of NGO’s is an organization designed for making contact with the European Commission, European Council, European Parliament, and the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions.
The Social Platform aims to link European NGO’s together, to be able to express unified statements towards the big European mechanisms, such as European Parliament, European Commission and European Council. It is basically an umbrella organization, in which European NGO’s are united, to be able to act as one strong social voice in communication with these European mechanisms.
The Social Platform represents all levels of activism, which is indicated in 3 main levels:
1. The direct members of the Social Platform are European NGO’s ,
2. The European NGO’s comprise National NGO’s, which form the indirect members of the Social Platform.
3. And the National NGO’s represent local and regional grassroot activists.
In this way, the delegates in the Social Platform represent all layers of activism, on various topics. United they fight for the advancement of the principles of equality, solidarity, non-discrimination, and the promotion of respect for fundamental rights, within Europe, and in particular the European Union.
The Social Platform has 3 working groups.
1. Social Policy
2. Services of General Interest
3. Fundamental Rights and Non-Discrimination
These working groups facilitate the definition of common positions and campaigns to ensure that decision makers hear the voice of the members of the Social Platform.
Joining the Social Platform and the working groups could be a two way benefit for ENUSP. It can strengthen the voice of ENUSP towards European mechanisms, and also, crosslinking with other European NGO’s can be very inspiring and effective.
During the meeting we discussed the options for ENUSP to become a full or associate member.
We were warmly welcomed by 3 persons of the Social Platform: Ariella, Pierre and Marie-Paule. They explained to us what the Social Platform was, and what it could do for us, how it works, what criteria they have for different memberships, and so on. All of this can also be found on the website www.socialplatform.org
There were some points and criteria we discussed.
One criterion we discussed was that all ENUSP members would need to be national organizations (formally representative), and it could be no individuals in the member base.
ENUSP does have individual members.
I then explained to them that pioneers always start as an individual, and for us, users/survivors it can be very hard to even found an organization, due to laws and stigma (I know in certain countries “patients” are not allowed to handle money, or are denied legal capacity to organize themselves.. this is in Africa and Middle East, but I assume in Europe it Is hard too). I also explained that even I, coming from NL, first protested 4 years without having an official foundation, because that costs money to raise it. And I told them that I won a prize for my study, and that is why I could pay for founding my organization. So even in the richest country you need special skills to be able to start an organization. This might be even harder in poorer countries. So I pleaded that individual memberships should not be a reason to exclude us, as this is actually the first step for our movement.
The members from the Social Platform will decide in their annual General Assembly (next in April 2013) whether to accept new members. ENUSP can send in an application, which should be done before December 31, 2012. In the Application Letter, ENUSP needs to point out why they want to join the Social Platform, and a motivation on the criteria can be incorporated in that. Since the decision on acceptance will be taken democratically by the Social Platform’s General Assembly the people who we spoke to cannot give us any further clearance on this.
Another criterion is that ENUSP members (organizations) would need to be coming from at least 14 different member states (making us representative for European scale). Jan confirmed that ENUSP had that.
One thing I then asked to them was what would happen, if we (as a new organization) plea for de-institutionalization and abolition of forced treatments, as is put in the UN CRPD, and another group (let’s say a medical group) comes up with a plea for forced treatments in terms of “necessary treatments”. What will happen?
The persons from the Social Platform said they would follow the outlines as put in the UN CRPD, and deinstitutionalization would be given preference. They didn’t see a problem there.
I then stressed that even in the negotiation process of the CRPD, the rights of users/survivors with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, were the biggest point of debate. For example voting rights for people in wheelchairs is quite acceptable to many people, but let’s say voting rights for people with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities often triggers a discussion and several gut feelings. This illustrates our position, and the amount of stigma we face. I once more stressed that ENUSP is one of the groups that often really need to push hard to be heard.
The people we spoke to made me feel like the working groups and the platform were really democratic, and social, and willing to include every voice, and they pointed us at the option to join the working groups as a partial member, and just sniff around, before paying full fee.
Then another thing we discussed of course was money, annual fees and implications for full or associate membership to the Social Platform.
Jan pointed out that ENUSP has severe budgetary limitations, and fees could be a problem to ENUSP. I openly suggested that ENUSP could see if the fee can be collected from funders, and I stressed that a UN treaty (CRPD) always comes to counter stigma, and they can probably imagine that our group is deprived of many things, also means to act and organize. The existence of the CRPD underlines our vulnerability.
They were obviously impressed when I told my personal story, about how lucky I am to have gotten out alive and well, and to be able to do this work. And that I had needed to win a prize to raise a foundation.. I underlined that it's not easy for us.
And I felt like this was really heard.
They also agreed that, since ENUSP has severe budgetary limitations a full membership could be worth it, to get the travel reimbursements. This decision is left to ENUSP and the Social Platform is open to further communication on all of this.
In my opinion, they were certainly having an open door for ENUSP to send in an application. I don’t feel like they are being very bureaucratic, but I did sense that they have responsibilities, and therefore have rules like "no individuals".
However, I think that with a good motivation in the Application Letter, ENUSP could be accepted and even be warmly welcomed by the Social Platform.
After the meeting, Jan and I went back to the Brussels train station, and we had a drink before we both went back home. We both felt good about this meeting with the Social Platform. It feels like we are building new bridges here.
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Je kunt nu ook Smileys gebruiken. Via de toolbar, toetsenbord of door eerst : te typen en dan een woord bijvoorbeeld :smiley