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Heathcoat-Amory: Listening to Civil Society

Mr President, I very much support this important part of our work - engaging with the public and groups outside here - otherwise we are in danger of simply being politicians talking to each other. I am very pleased with these developments, but I wish to support John Tomlinson in his opinion that we must look further than the existing Europe-wide groups, who often have very good existing links with the European Union.

Many people only belong to national groups and we must listen to them too. So my proposal is that they must always declare their existing status and interest, including their financial interest. Many groups, either directly or indirectly, receive funding from the European Union institutions. In my own parliament, this funding must always be declared, because if you have a financial interest, whilst there is nothing wrong with that, you must declare it so that everyone knows you are receiving funds from somebody. Maybe it makes you slightly less critical, and I believe we must do this.

My only other suggestion is that businesses and commercial groups must have an opportunity here. I think your seven groups so from civic society do not include one from small businesses and so on, who have quite important ideas and criticisms about regulation, competitiveness and the costs of the burden that they believe they suffer from. So, will there be an opportunity for them to contribute to this consultation exercise as well?

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