The answer is simple: the EU does. The TaxPayers’ Alliance, a British group that is genuinely independent of government, points to two recent EU missives that by coincidence arrived in the same package. The first, from the European Economic and Social Committee, was a report on “The external dimension of the EU’s energy policy.”

Among much else – such as, no surprise, a greater role for the EU – it recommends “that the social partners as well as environmental organizations and other civil society representatives should be heard and actively involved in defining the external energy strategy. Their capacities to support international dialogue and negotiations should be fully exploited.” All of that is a long-winded way of saying that the EU should use like-minded European NGOs to advance its energy aims at home and abroad, including hectoring the U.S. to sign on to climate change treaties.

And what was the second missive? It was “a notice . . . inviting civil society organizations at European level to bid for funding under the ‘Europe for citizens’ programme.” It is a very fair bet that anyone who bid for EU support with a proposal that – for example – the EU drop its pretensions to a common energy policy would not be funded.

So that’s how it works. The EU calls ‘civil society organisations’ into existence with funding, and then turns to them as supposedly independent ‘civil society representatives’ to sell its policies in Europe, and to Americans and other foreigners who are clueless enough to believe that most European NGOs are actually non-governmental organizations. The TaxPayers’ Alliance calls them “paid whisperers.” Given the volume they shout at, and their artificiality, that’s a bit too kind. Really, they’re nothing more than EU fronts.