Refugees: Solida… what?
Kos, Lampedusa, Djevdjelia, Szeged… These places do not seem familiar to most of us, except those who are particularly following the refugees’ routes. While several hundreds of thousands of exhausted and fleeing people are desperately trying to reach Europe in order to find a safe shelter, the majority of European Head of States seem to consider their major duty is to bargain at lowest the number of refugees their country should take care of.
Building a “Fortress Europe” against migrants is not a new policy for the European Union State leaders. Though, there is obviously a shift in nature when the EU reacts mildly to the erection by Hungary of a new iron curtain, to the attacks against refugees’ shelters by xenophobic and racist forces, to public speeches by Heads of member states who claim that the refugees they agree to host should be Christians, etc.
In this shameful context, the voices of Jean-Claude Juncker that discreetly criticised politicians “nourishing a populism that brings anger and not solutions”, or of Angela Merkel that cautiously declared “There is no tolerance of those who are not ready to help, where, for legal and humanitarian reasons, help is due” are remarkable. The paradox is that such sentences in leaders’ mouths should not be remarkable as they just say basic obvious truths.
For our European Civic Forum, what is crucial is not to tell such sentences. What is crucial is to implement the European claimed values, especially in times of a crisis. And, we are in a crisis which makes people facing war and crimes so close from Europe to seek refuge in a safe place. The 28 Head of states must implement a common, shared, policy that answers the urgency by welcoming the people flying from danger.
A first notable step came from Germany. Thus, the government decision to open the door to the Syrian refugees is the clearest evidence of the need to overcoming the Dublin regulation, which since years is one of the most important requests coming from European civil society organisations.
However, this initiative will not address the issue as it is on the ground as long as EU and other involved countries refuse to open humanitarian corridors. Till then, refugees will be forced to take highly dangerous roads to reach Europe, throwing them into the hands of smugglers and criminal chains. Their right to a safe haven will be denied.
Many citizens in Europe show solidarity with refugees with their own means. Their commitment to highest human values is realised in silence, as a normal duty. European leaders should listen to this silent behaviour and decide to act in support. Such a move would be a high valuable contribution to challenging xenophobia and racism, and would definitely reinforce the activity carried on by civic movements and organisations all around the EU.
News from the Forum
Civil Society Day 2015 – 16 June in EESC
The European Civic Forum participated in the Civil Society Day on 16 June in the EESC building (Brussels). Asked to intervene on the state of Civil Dialogue, ECF president Jean-Marc Roirant outlined two conditions to speak about this:
- Identifying the stakeholders
- Identifying the steps
According to him, there are still some steps to be overcome in order to speak about a true partnership between civil society organisations and EU institutions. Looking at what he calls the Richter scale
for Civil Dialogue, M. Roirant estimated that the current level is still at consultation. As a proposal to move forward, he notably stressed the need by EU institutions to stop denying the legitimacy of civil society representatives by willing to address exclusively to “THE citizens”. He also suggested adapting a new position towards Civil Dialogue, implementing it in the light of the current reflection about Europe’s future.
In this regard, Civil Society Europe is aiming at gathering civil society organisations, beyond their traditional scope, in order to work together and more efficiently for the general interest. Overall, the conference followed the Road Map drafted during the NGO Forum in Riga in March 2015 and tried to look at the possibilities for implementing these recommendations into practice.
Disdain – Indifference – Instrumentalisation – Consultation – Interaction – Dialogue – Partnership
Board meeting & the CREATE I REACT workshop in Lisbon
ECF Board members were invited to have a last common session before the summer break, this time in Lisbon in parallel to the CREATE I REACT workshop organised jointly by European Alternatives and ECF member, Academia Cidadã. The theme of the workshop – Building communities – was meant at analysing the different participation techniques emerging from self-organised citizens as a response to tough austerity measures that hit the EU in recent years.
From the screening of Dreamocracy
movie (see trailer here) to a lively debate with all involved actors, the workshop was a genuine crossing point for these movements coming from different parts of Europe. The focus was also made on the creation of regional and transnational networks of communities, acting for the same rights or the same cause.
Eventually, ECF members had the opportunity to visit Lisbon from a totally different angle. It was namely Joana from Lisbon Sustainable Tourism who took the small group through the city. From panoramic views to the visit of oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon Alfama, participants had the chance to discover Lisbon out of the traditional touristic roads and to learn more about local inhabitants, their customs… This Responsible Walking Tour enabled a real inside look at Lisbon’s life without disrupting the local population, preferring to speak about the social aspects of the city, rather than focusing only on history and heritage.
Save the date : European Civic Days 2015
Since La Rochelle in 2008, the ECF is organising its European Civic Days, high visibility events in the framework of the rotating EU Presidencies, providing space for stimulating, open and critical debates between civic, academic and political actors.
Since 2008, more than 2 000 participants joined these events, which contribute not only to bringing the European debate to national and local level and reach out to people often remote from current European agendas, but also to give voice to grassroots initiatives and concerns and bring them to the attention of the European leaders.
This year’s edition will exceptionally be held in Strasbourg to celebrate ten years since the creation of the European Civic Forum in the Council of Europe. This will be an opportunity to gather together more than 200 participants from all across Europe to take stock of political, institutional and social challenges facing Europe in the last decade and envision ways forward towards a Europe of Equality, Solidarity and Democracy.
Participants willing to take part in the discussions can now register via the link here: (lien Eventbrite)
News from the network
The Democratic Challenge is a project initiated by the Dutch ministry of home affairs to renew the local democracy. It challenges all citizens, organizations and municipalities to come up with ideas to challenge the local democracy. The Challenge contains 99 projects who want to revitalize local democracy and the government will try to help all the ideas to become reality. Specialized partners, like the ECF member Netwerk Democratie, try to tender their knowledge to help the experiments flourish. It's not a competition, but a cluster of experiments were we can learn from to improve laws heading in to the direction of a resilient democracy.
The adjoined projects and experiments are widely varied. E-democracy, the inclusion of youth and new ways of consulting and involving citizens are some values the experiments are focusing on. There is for example an online platform were you can crowdfund a lobbyist with your community.
The Democratic Challenge gives a great overview of activity concerning local democracy and the new ways people are organizing themselves and work with the government. In March 2016 the helping program comes to an end and then the results will be evaluated.
Please contact (firstname.lastname@example.org
) if you want to learn more about the Democratic Challenge.
WOW (World of Work) for Youth
In October 2014 IDC, together with FIC (Denmark, lead), FILCAMS CGIL (Italy), IDEAS Institute (Ireland) and European network SOLIDAR, started an EU funded project WOW (World of Work) for Youth! The basic rationale of the project is that informal learning, and peer-to-peer learning, empowers young individuals to engage in social and democratic processes that enhance their self-esteem and hence employability. It builds on the methodology of peer learning about topics that the young target group may not be particularly excited about learning: labour regulations on national and EU level, rights and duties on the labour market, the need of tackling unemployment as well as NEETs and the young people’s own responsibility in the process. The objectives we work towards are: promotion of participation in democratic life and the labour market in particular, increased sense of social inclusion and solidarity, empowerment of the individuals and the group as a whole towards enhanced employability and youth work, promotion of youth mobility and cooperation between youth, and raising the awareness of the EU.
As one of the most important activities within the project, 5-day Opinion Leader Training for youth by youth is organized in Copenhagen for 30 young participants from Italy, Denmark, Ireland and Serbia, with an extensive program aiming to engage youth, and bringing them face to face with "experts" and decision-makers, such as Anne Mette Vestergaard, Head of the European Parliament Office in Denmark, Jan Høst-Schmidt, Head of European Commission Representation in Denmark, Claus Larsen-Jensen, at former MEP, Youth Units of workers organizations such as HK, 3F, DUF and similar.
Proposal from Permanent Forum, EPE and CIME in memoriam of Philippe Grosjean
We suggested a third Convention
dedicated to ‘Growth and Debt’
as a mean to reconcile Citizens with EU institutions and build trust to a plan providing progress for all Europeans.
Growth is still weak and un-evenly distributed.
The potential of a Green Growth is not exploited because systemic issues aren’t addressed and deals aren’t negotiated with the right interlocutors and in full transparency.
Growth and Debt are closely interlinked.
Europe should take the lead on Growth and Debt as we need a new impetus on a new economy
and an action plan creating the necessary synergies accelerating the transition.
The Convention could
- offer the vehicle as interested parties are numerous and what would be addressed are synergies between energy, transport, climate change, cities, agriculture, water, biodiversity, wastes, tax reform, carbon pricing, subsidy reform, trade and foreign direct investments, labour market, sustainable production and development goals, well-being and growth indicators
- be the mechanism to overcome institutional inertia and drive co-operation and synergies
Approve a Declaration of Interdependence
and a Strategic Plan
translated in a European Framework Regulation
addressing Green Growth and Debt adopted by Council and Parliament.
Call for registrations: 23rd EUROCLIO professional development and training course
Reimagining Remembrance: Dealing with the Legacy of a Violent Past in History and Heritage Education
19-24 March 2016, BELFAST
Educators from all over the world are invited to apply to the 23rd EUROCLIO Annual Conference Professional Development and Training Course. 2016 marks the centenary of two important events in Northern Ireland History, namely the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme. Both events have come to be seen as key moments in the history of both sides of a divided city. How these issues, amongst others, are taught can provide a number of obstacles for teachers to overcome.
How to teach controversial history in a responsible manner?
The conference aims to explore this question through an active programme which will engage the participant in workshops, dialogue tables, open spaces, on-site study visits, public debates and reflective and interactive panels. The core group of teachers and heritage educators will be involved in activities that will empower them to engage their students and other target groups in critical debate from multiple perspectives.
• Register online on: https://goo.gl/Kyn2F1
• Preliminary programme:
• Conference webpage:
For queries, please contact Aysel Gojayeva (email@example.com
News from the Institutions
Corporate Europe Observatory report about DG Trade meetings in TTIP negotiations
Corporate Europe Observatory, the Brussels-based not-for-profit foundation, released an alarming report
concerning the TTIP negotiations currently undergoing between the EU and the US. As explained, out of the 288 meetings reported by DG Trade, 88% were with private sector’s lobby groups, while only 9% took place with public interest groups. The figures published by CEO hit a serious blow in European Commission’s efforts to improve transparency in the negotiating mandate, all the more when it appears that one in five lobby groups which met DG Trade officials are not registered in the Transparency Register.
As an indirect answer to the article released by CEO, TTIP chief negotiator Bercero stated that his team is ready to meet anyone in Europe who has an interest in the process, leaving the door open to all interlocutors. Yet, the figures show that a big part of the lobby groups were also representing big US companies from various sectors (agribusiness and food, pharmaceuticals, finance…). Recently, the DG Trade massively communicated about the protection and guarantee for the public sector, saying it would exclude it from the deal. The report reminds that these figures are solely based on the top officials from the DG (Commissioner Malmström, cabinet members and DG Head of Unit), while other staff is not required to record such meetings.
You can view the full article from Corporate Europe Observatory by clicking here
- Commissioner Avramopoulos speech in the Culture Committee
In June, Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos met the members of the Culture Committee in the European Parliament, where the Europe for Citizens programme was notably discussed. In the view of the recent terrorist attacks which took place in Paris and Copenhagen in 2015, M. Avramopoulos remembered how important the Europe for Citizens programme was in sharing ideas and multiculturalism. Yet, he also stressed the very low budget dedicated to the programme in the 2014-2020 periods, using the term “modest
No big announcements emerged from M. Avramopoulos’ speech, except maybe the fact that he asked his “service to identify all possible ways where complementarities can be developed between other policies and the Europe for Citizens programme
”, adding that the third EU citizenship report would be released in 2016.
Generally, the presentation stressed out the need for the EfC programme to do more and to tackle issues linked to the current situation in the EU and beyond, such as migration or the social consequences of the economic crisis.
The full text can be found here: http://bit.ly/1MZLBhE
LUX Prize 2015 finalists
The finalists competing for the 2015 LUX Film Prize have been announced: Mediterranea, Mustang and Urok (in English: The Lesson). The three films deal with current social issues such as immigration, position of women and girls, education and economic problems in society.
The three finalists competing for the European Parliament's annual film award are:
- Mediterranea, by Jonas Carpignano – Italy, United States, Germany, France, Qatar
- Mustang, by Deniz Gamze Ergüven – France, Germany, Turkey, Qatar
- Urok (The lesson), by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov – Bulgaria, Greece.
The announcement was made on 24 July in Rome during the "Venice Days" by European Parliament vice-president Antonio Tajani and culture committee chair Silvia Costa.
The three finalist films will be subtitled in all 24 EU official languages and will be screened in more than 50 cities and 20 festivals throughout Europe. The final winner will be also adapted for the visually and hearing impaired and receive support for its international promotion.
The film winning the 2015 LUX prize will be selected by MEPs and announced on 25 November during the EP plenary session in Strasbourg, in the presence of the four finalist directors.
07.09.2015 / Is change still possible in Europe? / Brussels, Belgium / Conference
. Event taking stock of office of the Presidency. Read more here
09.09.2015 / State of the Union address to the European Parliament / Strasbourg, France / Speech .
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will deliver his first State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday 9 September, from 09h CET.
22.09.2015 / EUCIS-LLL celebrating its 10th Anniversary! / Brussels, Belgium / Public event. Stay tuned for more information about this event here.
25-29.09.2015 / International Youth Conference: "European values for the future of SEE countries / Krusevo, FYROM / Conference
. The call for participants will be open until 5th September, 2015. More information is available here