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A new narrative for Europe: Bringing More Union into The European Union

 

Proiectul “A new narrative for Europe: Bringing More Union into The European Union” și este finanțat de Comisia Europeană, prin programul Europe for Citizens.

 

Proiectul se va derula în perioada septembrie 2018 – noiembrie 2019.

Obiectivele principale ale proiectului sunt promovarea cetățeniei europene, îmbunătățirea condițiilor de participare civică și democratică la nivelul Uniunii și includerea cetățenilor la dezbaterea viitorului Europei în contextul provocărilor euroscepticismului. Proiectul este coordonat de Centrul Român de Politici Europene (CRPE), în parteneriat cu Școala Națională de Studii Politice și Administrative (SNSPA) România, platforma civică Inter Alia (Grecia), Institutul de Politici Publice RiskMonitor (Bulgaria) și Institut für Europäische Politik (Germania).

 
 

Calendarul de activități în cadrul proiectului:

 

◦  octombrie 2018 – Kick-off meeting la Atena;

◦ mai 2019: lansare competiție de dezbateri online – Un concurs european de dezbateri on-line pentru tineri / studenți (4 echipe x 2 participanți pe țară) axat pe teme cheie ale UE;

◦  16 video-uri de storytelling – purtând numele “My EU Future”, publicate pe platforma online http://futureofeurope.europeanheroes.eu, de la tineri care activează în mișcările civice și noile forme de cetățenie activă din cele 4 țări ale proiectului Germania, Bulgaria Grecia și România;

- organizare a 5 dezbateri locale în fiecare țară a proiectului;

◦  octombrie  2019: conferință finală  la București (România) – experți și reprezentanți ai societății civile din cele 4 țări vor împărtăși și disemina rezultatele proiectului (atât la nivel de țară, cât și la nivel general), cu scopul de a genera o vizibilitate mai mare a problemelor europene.

◦  noiembrie 2019 – încheierea proiectului.

 

Ca partener al proiectului, Departamentul de Relații Internaționale și Integrare Europeană din SNSPA se va implica în următoarele activități:

◦  co-organizarea unui eveniment ce va implica tineri din UE (aprilie 2019 parte a Eurosfat cel mai mare eveniment axat pe afaceri europene). Conferința va include discuții despre rezultatele Summit-ului de la Sibiu, precum și  modul în care mesajele de la protestele pro-UE pot contribui la implementarea unor măsuri care să garanteze respectarea statului de drept;

◦  participarea activă pe platforma online de dezbateri și storytelling (16 videoclipuri) și realizarea de analize pe tema proiectului;

◦  co-organizarea conferinței finale de la București. În cadrul evenimentului final vor fi discutate și analizate rezultatele proiectului, principalii actori urmând a fi tinerii implicați în activitățile prevăzute în proiect (concursuri de dezbateri și storytelling, conferințe naționale).

 

Reprezentant din partea SNSPA: Dr. Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă (coordonatoare Centrul de Studii Europene SNSPA)

 

Final conference: Streets Protests and Civic Mobilization –
Current Challenges to Social Resilience –
Views from Civil Society
5th of October 2019, Hotel InterContinental (Bucharest, Romania)

Dr. Miruna Butnaru Troncotă (SNSPA, Bucharest)

The final conference was co-organized by Școala Națională de Studii Politice și Administrative - SNSPA (Romania) and Centrul Român de Politici Europene - CRPE part of the project “A new narrative for Europe: Bringing more union into the European Union – the cost of non EU” coordinated by Centrul Român de Politici Europene - CRPE (Romania) in partnership with Școala Națională de Studii Politice și Administrative - SNSPA (Romania), Inter Alia (Greece), RiskMonitor (Bulgaria) and Institut für Europäische Politik (Germany) and co-funded by Europe for Citizens Programme, Strand2: Democratic engagement and civic participation. The event was moderated by Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă, PhD (SNSPA representative in this project).
The aim of the event was to bring together Romanian and foreign experts and representatives of civil society to talk about the most recent trends and the various forms of civic mobilisation and their impact on the future of Europe. The event addressed recent civic unrest in Europe, analyzing the roots and bringing together the most active citizens and civic groups involved in the recent movements. Our aim was to show that the European project can move forward and respond to Euroscepticism and other EU challenges in a democratic and effective manner, engaging young activists from different EU countries in a democratic exchange of ideas. It was structured in such manner so that experts with different backgrounds and insights could reflect and share their views on the complex causes and consequences of civic protests in Eu member states but also in EU’s neighborhood. We decided to include the final conference as a panel in the Bucharest Security Conference 2019 so that we could attract a wider audience interested in these European topics. 
More than 80 participants took part in the discussions, from both Romania and other countries.
We thus combined the academic and policy approach, with insights from grass roots organizations. In May 2019 we organised an E-Online debate competition with 16 teams of youths from all 4 countries based on EU affairs themes and their opinions on key EU topics. We have promoted the online debate among our networks and multiple student teams from SNSPA took part in the debate. The winners of the debate (Gustav Spaat and Phillip Raab from Germany) were invited to the final the large cross-country event in Bucharest as key speakers.
The excellent presentations offered great insights and the opportunity to raise questions and comments. We were happy to observe the attention that our conference drew to a wide set of audience – students, academics, NGO representatives, public policy think tanks, as well as representatives of public institutions.

In proposing the main topic for the final event, we were mainly interested in each speaker’s
own experience with civic mobilisation in the wider EU and also an extra non-EU context. Can we speak about new forms of civic engagement in Europe? Does the environmentalist agenda change
something in young people’s approach to EU politics? These were the main questions that we aimed to tackle. Any issue connected to the impact of recent civic protests on EU democracy was welcomed. The idea was for our audience and our speakers to share thoughts relevant for the overall topic, but that are familiar to their own activities/ expertise. As such, the speakers were asked to focus on concrete examples and personal experience. As we had two guests from Germany, one referred more to the situation of anti-EU and pro-Eu street protests from recent years and how they unfolded in the case of Germany/ Berlin and the other focused more on the recent EP elections results (with a visible increase in youth turnout) in connection to the populists attacks and how citizens counter reacted to their narratives.  To this, we benefited also from non-EU example of civic mobilisation from the Republic of Moldova. Including this panel as part of the overall Bucharest Security Conference, which was attended by more than 100 participants over 2 days, we have tried to include a more citizen driven approach in the Transatlantic debate on security and foreign affairs.

Bringing a civil society view on social resilience and the Future of Europe

The speakers focused on the different forms of social resilience and ways to translate the messages
from the grass root level and connect them to the EU public policies, favoring a more bottom-up approach, closer to the EU citizens, in order to ensure that the European project can move forward and respond to Euroscepticism and other EU challenges in a democratic and effective manner. The overall conceptual framework of the discussion was ‘social resilience’ as experienced by each of the speakers in their own activities. One of the key questions raised by the panel was: Does EU experience any increase in social resilience based on recent examples of mass civic mobilization? Or these are just some elite based events that do not have any consistent feed back on the overall quality of our democracies?
At the end of the engaging debate, the audience raised many questions pointing to various other
subjects, such as links between politicians and activists, creating a subject that can end in a global protest, or building an international community to fight for the common rights.
One of the main conclusions of our discussion was that engaging civil society actors at the
international level and including their say in development policies can counter recent Eurosceptic worrying trends. Our final conference provided a space for civil society in different countries to discuss common challenges, while engaging in a dialogue with EU Institutions, local authorities, and associations of the private sector on how these can best be addressed through collaboration. Mr Andrei Lutenco discussed at length about government restrictions on civil society organisations in Moldova. Political activist are always under attack in undemocratic regimes. Crackdowns on human rights defenders are a troubling reality for many countries. Mr. Luca Ciubotaru also gave examples of this situation in the case of Romania’s 10th of August 2018 street protests, where politicians committed serial abuses over the protesters. Also, other speakers mentioned the visible decrease in funding for civil society, which impact directly on the how strong the voices of civil society can hold governments accountable. it was underlined that these conditions strengthened civil society mobilization, highlighting it as an example of resilience amidst the mistrust in national institutions.

Another issue addressed by the debates dealt with the absence of public debate about how difficult it
is for civic activists to organise events and keep the reactionary spirit alive among youth publics on long term. It was given the example of Romania where protests needed to last for around 3 months in order to get desired results. Other speakers also mentioned that the level of government responsiveness to civic protests was in recent years sporadic, weak and disorganised. There was little interest in promoting critical discussion of this process; hence the conspicuous lack of public scrutiny of the not-for-profit sector and its transformation.
One of the main conclusions of the debate was that the importance given to civil society demands
shows how healthy a society is. How will the situation look like in the next 5 years of the new Commission cycle for civil activists? The fact is that centralised states and concentrated markets are corroding civil society is one of the great challenges of our century. What then is to be done? In the final recommendations that the audience and the panelists discussed it was clearly highlighted that the regeneration of civil society can come only from civil society itself—from  citizens, volunteers, residents, carers, neighbours, parents, activists, mentors and donors—whose  agency and participation in the democratic life in the EU is voluntary, associational and relational in character. Members of the audience discussed also the urgent need of finding a structural solution for increasing civic mobilisation even in conditions of limited resources. It was outlined that civil society may face opposition in their countries of origin, but bringing a common voice to the international level is a way of finding a common future through social solidarity.