The Romanian Center for European Policies organized on November 23rd 2018 the debate entitled ” Democratic Challenges in the European Union and the Role of Civic engagement”. We searched for ideas so as to understand how the recent massive civic movements in Central and Eastern Europe and also those taking place in founding EU Member States can relaunch the participation in the European elections or contribute to the scenarios concerning the future of the European Union.
We discussed with civic groups, activists, students, NGOs and journalists about solutions to the challenges of the European Union, how democracy can and must be defended through civic actions, protests, disclosures, press inquiries and so on (more than 180 participants). Moreover, we discussed about the democratic challenges in the European neighborhood, but also about the role of activism and civic organizations in the Republic of Moldova or Turkey.
The discussion brought together activists and representatives of the civic movements from Central and Eastern Europe, Germany, Greece and the Republic of Moldova.
Bart Scheffers, Open Society Foundation: ’We have to ask ourselves what we can do to improve the situation in our countries, in Romania, in Hungary, or in any European country: the solution can be related to education, in debating what we can do, as citizens, to improve the rule of law, what are the costs of corruption and how it affects us. Corruption, the weakening of the rule of law, a less and less free press are aspects which affect us all as citizens’.
Cristian Doroftei, OccupyGuguţă, Republic of Moldova: ’We want to teach people not to be afraid to express their requests and needs and to fight for their rights. They should also not be afraid to protest if they feel dishonoured. We need both civic and political education. We will continue to fight for the rights of the citizen and the rule of law in Moldova’.
Katia Oknis, The European Moment: ’We are the generation that has benefited the most from the European Union. And now we have similar problems in Germany, and in Romania, and in other countries. There is an increase in populist, extreme right movements and also attacks on the European values we believe in. We have to remain and work together for a Union of the citizens and defending our rights’.
Marius Schlageter, The European Moment: ’The European Union needs to reform, and we, the young generation, must be part of this reform. We have to fight against the populist movements. We have the Summit in Sibiu; then, after two weeks, the European elections will take place, when we have to vote and ensure that we are properly represented in the European Parliament’.
The conference is part of the ’Future of Europe: Bringing more union into the European Union’ project, funded by the European Commission, Europe for Citizens Programme, Strand2: Democratic engagement and civic participation.