Third sector join European networks to unite against Brexit
An influential delegation of charities has told Europe the third sector is united against Brexit.
Representatives from 15 civil society groups arrived in Brussels last week to discuss with European third sector networks the impact the decision is likely to have on the Scotland, the UK and wider society.
During a series of meetings, the delegation emphasised that the sector’s role in everything from medical research to animal rights and the environment was under threat in the light of the split.
However the delegation also pointed out the third sector was increasing its influence with government and was highlighting the need to continue links post-Brexit as the terms of the break-up are still being negotiated.
Among the organisations were the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Refugee Council, the Carers Trust and the British Heart Foundation.
They met with other civil society partners from across Europe including the European Civic Forum and European umbrella body Enna.
European leaders heard how months of campaigning are beginning to pay off and that that the third sector is best placed to articulate many of the issues surrounding Brexit.
John Downie, public affairs director at SCVO, said: “Brexit has the potential to be a catastrophic fracture not just in Scotland but across Europe.
“We must now use this opportunity to influence, to ther best of our ability, the terms of that split. We need to emphasise that the sector does not only deliver vital services but is also a rich source of ideas and influence on key issues."
Downie added: “Europe needs a strong civil society. Despite Brexit, the message we delivered to our sister organisations is that we must continue to be a part of Europe to influence and continue to make postive change in everything from social care to human rights."
It is expected similar meetings between the third sector and European leaders will be taking place in the near future.