The ECF acts in many different ways in order to reinforce citizens’ participation in civic life. This was already the purpose of the campaign entitled A Plan C for Europe, launched immediately after ECF’s creation, “C” meaning citizenship, civic engagement and citizens’ consultations. Unlike those who consider that civic engagement is not an obligation in our communities, the ECF believes à contrario that it is an essential pillar for a correct collective functioning. This constitutes an indicator which measures each other’s involvement in community’s life. Under its different shades, citizens’ participation to political, economic, social and cultural life is crucial for people’s commitment to the values of Democracy.
Promoting participation at national and European levels
ECF members contribute to promoting participation in elections. Be it Asociatia Pro Democratia in Romania, GONG in Croatia, ARCI in Italy, the Institute of Public Affairs in Poland, Civisme et Démocratie in France, the European Institute in Bulgaria or Netwerk Democratie in the Netherlands, our members are strongly mobilised, together with various partners (media, institutions, education and research experts). Depending on the countries, they set up awareness raising activities on voting matters, but they also organise debate between different stakeholders about key issues. Beyond these activities, our members are also active in monitoring elections and in drafting recommendations for the election process.
ECF member organisations, such as the Ligue de l’Enseignement in France, the Centre for Citizenship Education in Poland, the Citizenship Academy in Portugal or CIVES Foundation in Spain are important stakeholders in the areas of civic and popular education, whether it concerns formal or non-formal education. This particular dimension of civic action plays an essential role in tackling populist, regressive forces, but also in giving a broader meaning to individuals, not only considering them as consumers. The ECF launched a working group, which will draw a state of art in the area of civic education in several Member States. When looking at putting together the positive experiences of its members, the ECF intends to develop new tools with a European dimension, in order to propose to
facilitators, teachers and NGO representatives.
The ECF settled a work group to make a inventory of civic education in the different members states. Trying to take advantage of positives experiences of these associations, the ECF wishes is to develop new european tools in order to propose new animators, teachers and associations leaders.
The issue of participatory democracy and its links with representative democracy is vital for civic participation. Again, ECF members have gained a significant experience. Thus, the European Association for the Defence of Human Rights, the French League of Human Rights, Dutch Netwerk Democratie, German Democracy International, Europe House in Budapest, Volunteering Matters in the UK and the Polish Institute of Public Affairs have been very proactive on these issues. A working group is specifically analysing consultative methods and practices within the European civil society, but the ECF is pushing this reflection further.
The emergence of massive social movements, calling for the access to rights urges us to broaden the perspective on citizens’ involvement in direct democracy
beyond the sole “institutional” actions. We therefore aim at thinking about the relations between these movements and organised civil society; a strong ambition yet to come.