Streets protests and civic mobilization – Current challenges to social resilience – views from the civil society

On October 5th, the Center of European Studies of the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, together with the Romanian Center for European Policies, organized a large cross-country event on street protests and civic mobilization, in Bucharest, Romania.

The aim of the event was to bring together Romanian and foreign experts and representatives of the civil society, in order to discuss about the most recent trends and various forms of civic mobilization, as well as their impact on the future of Europe. The event was attended by more than 80 participants and addressed recent civic unrest in Europe, analyzing the roots and bringing together the most active citizens and civic groups involved in the recent movements. The overall aim of the event was to demonstrate that the European project can move forward and respond to Euroscepticism and other challenges in an effective manner, engaging young activists from different EU countries in a democratic exchange of ideas. The conference was included, as a panel, in the Bucharest Security Conference 2019.

The event placed specific emphasis on each speaker’s own experience with civic mobilization in the wider Union and also in the EU neighborhood: 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?

As such, the speakers were asked to focus on concrete examples and personal experiences. As we had two guests from Germany, one of them referred to the situation of the anti-EU and pro-EU street protests in recent years and how they unfolded in the case of Germany, while the other focused more on the recent EP elections results (with a visible increase in youth turnout). The debate also envisaged a non-EU example of civic mobilization from the Republic of Moldova.

The event welcomed 5 speakers from 4 countries: Alvaro Oleart, PhD, postdoctoral researcher at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam (Netherlands); Philipp Raab, civic activist (Germany); Gustav Spät, civic activist (Germany); Andrei Lutenco, Center for Policy and Reform (Republic of Moldova) and Luca Ciubotaru, legal professional and community organizer (Romania).

Some insights of the debate: Does the EU experience any increase in social resilience based on recent examples of mass civic mobilization? Or are these just some elite-based events that do not have any consistent feedback on the overall quality of our democracies? How to build resilience in local communities? How do you make them react on a long term, since protests can’t last forever?

The conference was organized in the framework of the project: ‘A new narrative for Europe: Bringing more union into the European Union’, funded by the European Commission, Europe for Citizens Programme, Strand2: Democratic engagement and civic participation.