European Civic Forum

5 years of Okruzenje TV programme, winner of the 2016 European Citizenship Awards

The 5th anniversary of Okruženje took place in a room crowded with journalists and an unanimous appreciation of the sole regional TV programme: this is a project that must continue.

Until now, Okruženje was realised with a great number of guests who could witness its development and shaping through these five years: from a modest rookie production to a high-quality programme; from just a few broadcasters to 11 public and commercial TV channels which are now showing the episodes; from regional to European Vicinities and ultimately, the medal for the Media Initiative of the year at the European Citizenship Awards, given by the European Civic Forum and Volonteurope.

This special event saw speakers who supported the project from the beginning and those who recognised the importance of Okruženje for the region.

Hannes Swoboda, chair of CDRSEE Steering Committee, said that he is looking forward new series of Okruženje and that he hopes one will say in the future that the idea of Okruženje was a good practice for bringing the region closer to the European Union.

According to Hedvig Morvai, executive director of the European Fund for the Balkans which support Okruženje for 5 years now, this project is a genuine initiative stemming from civil society which managed to open the doors of the media, but also to cross these doors and get recognised in the whole region and beyond as something valuable. “Quality always makes its way through”, she says.

Morvai also explained that Okruženje is a key project for the European Fund for the Balkans. “This is our common project and I think that Okruženje is an example of good practice which can potentially be listed and implemented in other regions and under other circumstances. Today, Europe is facing major issues and challenges, and we as a region striving to be part of the EU, must build a more collective, constructive and clever way of thinking about Europe’s future. In this sense, I see Okruženje as the perfect tool for it”, she concluded.

Germany’s Ambassador in Serbia, HE. Axel Ditmann added that his country is still enthusiastic about supporting Okruženje, noting that it has an ideal format in which people can discuss about all relevant questions not by trying to convince each other, but to confront each other’s perspective, to understand different citizens in order to reach a compromise. “The regional cooperation is not something built solely upon governments’ efforts and supranational institutions. It is also necessary that people talk to each other, that there is an exchange of views among civil societies, this is key in the process”, according to him.

  Vladimir Sestovic, representing the European Civic Forum and part of the European Citizenship Awards team, also assisted to the event. He stressed the unanimous recognition of the initiative by the judging members, even if most of them were not from the region. Okruženje gives a great contribution to mutual understanding through an open dialogue and such programmes are essential, not only in the region, but also in Europe.

Towards an EU Strategy to Promote Civic Space ?

Original article from Civil Society Europe 

On 16th November, several members of the European Parliament working on civil liberties, human rights and development cooperation and representatives of European CSOs met for a breakfast exchange on shrinking civic space in Europe, at the initiative of Vice President Sylvie Guillaume and Civil Society Europe. The meeting started with a presentation of the  results of a survey conducted by Civil Society Europe together with CIVICUS.  The survey results confirmed some worrying developments, i.e.  58, 7 % of the respondents considered that conditions for civic space have deteriorated in the last year, which were also confirmed in the debate. The debate brought to light the need to work proactively to address these worrying trends by developing a wide debate between the European Parliament and Civil Society leading to the development of a strategy, as well as benchmarks. Also, there was a call by Heidi Hautala, a member of the Committee on Development, to mainstream civic space in the different EU policies including, for instance, budgetary issues. There are a number of opportunities at hand to address more consistently civic freedoms and fundamental rights such as the follow-up by the European Commission of the proposal by the European Parliament of a EU mechanism on the implementation of the rule law, democracy and fundamental rights in the EU, led by Sophie in’ t Veld, and the upcoming EP report and study on shrinking civic space in third countries. Members of the European Parliament present and civil society organizations agreed to follow up with concrete initiatives to make this issue high on the EU agenda. More information is available here.

Join us for the first European Civic Academy

The first European Civic Academy (8-9 October, la Rochelle, France) will look into the complex questions raised by citizens’ disenchantment, practice, and expectation with regard to democracy and in relation to the “democratic deficit” in Europe.

The vote for Brexit is the latest illustration of the risk of the disintegration of the European project.

For a long time now, democratic disenchantment has constantly been on the increase because of the growing gap between electoral promises and what elected representatives actually do, by the corruption that occurs where the vested interests of economic and political forces meet, by the lack of transparency of decision-making processes which affect peoples’ lives, by growing social inequalities, by institutional disregard of popular mobilizations about access to rights, by the fear of exclusion, by growing poverty, and by growing state racism.

For an increasing number of the population, this leads to questioning democracy as a relevant instrument to make their aspirations and claims heard and to be taken into account. Regressive populism is blossoming on this fertile ground. Its leitmotif is denying equal access to rights for all.

While decreasing electoral participation is often an indicator of growing democratic disenchantment, we are also witnessing the mobilisation of citizens’ to cast their votes, in last year’s elections in Greece, Scotland or Catalonia.

Similarly, while social conflicts are on a globally decreasing trend, the economic crisis triggered massive democratic citizens’ mobilisation, about a wide range of concerns and in forms of action from the local to the global level. These mobilisations around our values have an empowering effect, yet they remain fragmented, thematically and geographically.

There is a need for a better understanding of this combination of obstacles and opportunities in their complexities, and in their interactions, in order to overcome the fragmentation of forces for social and democratic change.

To register, please fill in the form here. Full programme and list of speakers is available here.

2016 European Citizenship Awards – vote now!

The European Citizenship Awards 2016 are a joint initiative between Volonteurope and the European Civic Forum, two European networks which promote active citizenship and recognition of the importance of social justice to the cohesion of communities across Europe. The Awards celebrate the democratic and civic engagement of individuals, organisations, citizens’ groups, media platforms and social enterprises, recognising innovative initiatives and contributions which give real substance to European values, create ownership of public space and improve the lives of our communities in terms of democracy, social justice and universal access to rights.

The joint initiative comes at a time when the European project is facing many challenges. Through the European Citizenship Awards 2016, the two networks will recognise and give visibility to outstanding initiatives and civil society actors who put European democratic citizenship into practice and have a real, positive impact on the lives of their communities – be it at the local, regional, national or European level.
The importance of ownership and belonging are at the heart of European Civic Forum and Volonteurope’s understanding of European citizenship. To do so, four categories of initiatives illustrate this concept of democratic citizenship:

  1. Campaign of the Year: rewarding awareness-raising or advocacy campaigns organised by both informal and formal groups of citizens, including NGOs, with a real and proven impact on community life or public action, and a high potential for driving transformative change;
  2. Social Enterprise of the Year: rewarding businesses or not-for-profits founded on the basis of social goals, which are written into the enterprise’s vision and mission, the pursuit of which brings in positive social change in communities;
  3. Volunteer of the Year: rewarding individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to democratic life and to the development of a community or cause, be it through a volunteering role in an NGO or in another form of an organisation or community association (including informal groups); and
  4. Media Initiative of the Year: rewarding professional media and media-based collaborative initiatives which give citizens effective tools to engage and bring about positive change in their communities; successful media initiatives will have used different tools for engagement and enhanced citizens’ participation, fostered an informed citizenry and enabled the development of a common civic space.

A judging panel selected four nominees for each categories, following precise rules of procedure and clear selection criteria.

Have a look at the detailed descriptions for each candidate within the four categories and select your favorites. This is where your participation counts. You are now invited to choose your favorite candidate in each category and so give them a chance to be our 2016 Laureates.

The ECF is looking for an Communication and Advocacy Officer (Internship)

The ECF secretariat is composed of a small but dynamic and multi-task team, responsible for the implementation of the work programme and the day-to-day management of the network. We are currently seeking an intern to assist the secretariat team in the field of policy and advocacy development, working in close cooperation with the network member organisations and partners.

MAIN TASKS:

Joining the ECF staff team based in Paris, the intern will contribute to the network communication and advocacy:

  • Support internal working groups on (1) Civic participation and (2) Civic Education and provide technical and policy assistance to develop monitoring tools on civic space developments across Europe (asses the state of the freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression);
  • Contribute to the drafting the monthly newsletter in English (monitoring European policies and agenda and writing articles particularly in areas such as justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, civil dialogue, transparency)
  • Contribute to the preparation of the annual magazine “Activizenship”
  • Contribute to the preparation of the European Civic Academy (to be held in La Rochelle on 8-9 October 2016)

CANDIDATE PROFILE:

  • Graduate of European Studies, Political Science or equivalent
  • Thorough knowledge of the European Union and its policies
  • Excellent oral and writing skills in English and French
  • Computer and social media literacy;
  • A first experience within NGO/volunteering sector would be an asset

TEMRS AND CONDITIONS

  • internship convention by a French university needed
  • Length of the internship: 3 months (renewable)
  • paid internship according to the French law
  • starting date: 27 June 2016
  • the intern will be based in the ECF office in Paris, located 167 bd. de la Villette

HOW TO APPLY

To apply, please send a cover letter and a CV in English to Alexandrina Najmowicz, ECF Director (anajmowicz@civic-forum.eu).

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS

Please send your applications by e-mail before the 16th June at the latest.

You can find the original call by clicking here.

What makes an active citizen?

What makes an active citizen? Is voting in elections enough? Or does it mean volunteering every week and only buying fair trade fruit?

A cursory search reveals that there is no real agreement on what it means to be an active citizen. Volonteurope has teamed up with European Civic Forum to answer this question, but we need your help to do it!

 

Help us get to the bottom of what it means to be an active citizen by completing this 10-minute survey by 5 June 2016 (available in 7 languages):

English

Finnish

French

Greek

Italian

Polish

Spanish

GONG: Croatian government’s triple attack on autonomous Media, Civil Society and Culture

ECF member GONG (based in Zagreb) closely follows the situation of government’s attacks on civil society, the media and culture in the country. Below is their latest update. 

Since assuming office on January 22, 2016 the vice-president of the Croatian Government, Tomislav Karamarko, president of HDZ and the leader of the ruling coalition in Croatia, has been putting into action his plan, announced during the election campaign, to silence all dissenting voices in the country, in line with his statement that citizens “would be free to think their minds within their own four walls, yet not in the public sphere”. At the same occasion he promulgated the concept of national identity to be adhered to by all citizens: “They will have to respect the values on which the Croatian state is founded – Homeland War, our war veterans and all killed, the political doctrine of dr. Franjo Tuđman and the great deed of Gojko Šušak.”[1]  A renowned revisionist historian, Zlatko Hasanbegović, in the position of Minister of Culture has been specifically mandated to do so, and is carrying out this assignment zealously. The Minister’s harmful interventions continue despite recent rhetorical retreat on part of Karamarko, upon strong international criticisms related to the commemoration of Jasenovac boycotted by key representatives of the Jewish and Serbian minority, as a reaction to the Government’s toleration (if not even implicit endorsement) of rising pro-fascist rhetoric and aggression against national minorities  in the public space[2].

Attack on institutional support for media pluralism 

The attack on non-profit media by the Minister of Culture started only five days after he assumed office, with the dissolution of the Commission for Non-profit Media that was in charge of the Ministry’s grant-making and oversight of grantees in the non-profit media sector. At present, it is the Minister himself that is reviewing and approving requests for reallocations of non-profit media projects still underway, based on contracts signed last year, which is yet another opportunity for blocking existent financing of non-profit media. What followed in February and March was complete cutting of funds for non-profit media from the State Budget for 2016 and beyond, including the disappearance of the budget line for non-profit media already planned as part of the European Social Fund Operational Program for 2016.

Simultaneously with the attack on non-profit media, rapid changes of leadership and editors on public television and radio have taken place, as well as an unprecedented march on the Agency and Council for Electronic Media, organized by pro-Government war veterans and attended by deputy speaker of the Parliament Ivan Tepeš, where pro-fascist and xenophobic insults were shouted, demanding resignation from the Council’s chair Mirjana Rakić. The aggressive rally was not sanctioned by the Government. Rather, the Minister of Culture had proposed and the Government adopted and sent to Parliament the proposal to dismiss the entire Council for Electronic Media. This was the reason for public statement expressing concern issued by OSCE’s representative for freedom of the media[3]. The Parliament’s review of the Council’s report and action related to the Government’s proposal and appointment of the new Chair are pending.

At present, the Council for Electronic Media is the only alternative source of state-level public funding for non-profit media. Prospective changes in the composition and agenda of the Council will likely reflect the Government’s intentions to change the Ordinance of the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media. At present, the Ordinance directs 7% of total funds acquired through public TV subscriptions and fees from electronic media towards non-profit media (the rest is divided between public and commercial local TV and radio stations), yet the future Ordinance might cut off this percentage to the legal minimum of 3% (or even lower in case media laws get revised). In the absolute amount, in 2015 non-profit media received 5,3 million HRK (700 000 EUR) from the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media and 3,2 million HRK (420 000 EUR) from the Ministry of Culture. Thus, it is evident that cutting off or stalling these funds is not a question of budget savings and efficiency, but rather a case of silencing critical voices.

Attack on institutional support for civil society development

The National Foundation for Civil Society Development, the only public institution providing institutional support to CSOs as well as CSO platforms, support centers and community foundations is facing a 70% cut in its funding from lottery sources. Namely, each year, since 2004, the Government adopts a Regulation on the Criteria for Defining Beneficiaries and Mode of Distribution of Revenues from Lottery Sources.  So far, the National Foundation has annually received approximately 14% of these revenues. In the 2016 budget, the National Foundation’s budget was increased by 5% in comparison to the previous year, with projections of significant increases in 2017 and 2018, primarily in relation to expected dynamics of co-financing and bridging funds for CSO projects funded from EU structural funds (ESF).

However, less than a month after the Parliament adopted the State Budget, the Government issued a Proposal of the Regulation for 2016, whereby the percentage earmarked for the National Foundation was cut to only 4,41%. In absolute figures this amounts to 30 million HRK (4 million EUR) less funding.  The proposal was prepared and suddenly introduced into procedure without prior consultations at the level of the Government’s Council for Civil Society Development – the inter-sectoral body specifically designed for dialogue on civil-society-related policy development.

This campaign is spearheaded by the leader of a marginal ultra-conservative party Ladislav Ilčić – a partner in the ruling coalition, and the leader of the homophobic referendum In the Name of Family, Željka Markić, who is also closely related to Minister Hasanbegović. On the basis of ideological differences, they are targeting the National Foundation as it has, among others, also disbursed grants to pro-democratic CSOs gathered around Platform 112, who were amongst the loudest opponents of the homophobic referendum campaign and the attempts to introduce an ultra-conservative abstinence-based sexual education into the formal education system.

In their attempt to silence those organizations, they are willing to destroy the entire infrastructure for civil society development, including program and institutional funding that is currently disbursed among CSOs supporting vulnerable social groups (44% for persons with disabilities, war veterans, children, social and health service providers); 21% for CSOs active in education, youth and culture;  10% for CSOs working on environmental protection, sustainable development and social economy and 16% for CSOs promoting democracy and human rights. It is noteworthy that only 7% of the Foundation’s grants is allocated to CSOs and coalitions targeted by minister Hasanbegović and the neo-conservatives – primarily Platform 112, Antifascist League, GONG, Center for Peace Studies, Documenta, CESI and LGBT organizations.

Due to the public protest and lobbying on part of CSOs (targeting Government junior coalition partner MOST), the adoption of the Regulation for 2016 was removed from the agenda of the Government’s session on April 6, while the session of the Council for Civil Society Development was summoned for April 22 at which a new version of the Regulation was presented with moderate rise of 7% of funds allocation for the National Foundation for Civil Society Development, due to  a compromise between HDZ and its junior coalition partner MOST. The allocation is still only a half of the National Foundation’s original lottery revenue, envisioned in the State Budget 2016, putting in serious jeopardy the total annual programming of the Foundation. While the Council session was underway, the Government held a telephone session at which this very Regulation was adopted, literally behind the back of the Council for Civil Society Development, without any notice or explanation. That resulted in immediate resignations of five members of the Council, including the President, representing civil society organisations from sectors of youth, culture, social services, democracy and human rights and environmental protection. Such brutal violation of the democratic procedure is a clear sign of the Government’s ignorance of civil dialogue, as a fundamental  principle of state-civil society relations that have been carefully developed over the past 15 years of Croatia’s democratisation. 

Further attacks on the institutional set-up for inter-sectoral cooperation are expected in the form of change of leadership in the Government’s Office for CSOs, the director and the composition of the Board of the National Foundation (Government appointees pending) and the composition as well as the procedure for appointing CSO members to the Government’s Council for Civil Society Development (thus far, they were appointed through sectoral elections, without Government interference).  In the worst-case scenario, significant legislative changes and re-programming of the EU funds are likely, to shift lottery and EU funds towards government agencies and exercise direct political control over National Foundation and Government Office for NGOs.

Attack on institutional support for civil society in the area of contemporary arts and culture

The Kultura Nova Foundation was established as a public foundation in 2011 in order to support CSOs working on contemporary arts and culture. It represents an innovation in the governance design enabling structured dialogue and participation of artists and activists in defining program priorities of the Foundation. Over the past 4 years Kultura Nova has demonstrated outstanding efficiency and transparency and has turned into a vital source of not only funding but also program development support to the entire non-institutional cultural scene in Croatia and its international partners.

In terms of the governing bodies, the Law stipulates that the Foundation has a Managing Board (5 members) and a Director. Both are appointed to a 4 year mandate. The Board is appointed after a public call issued by the Director and open to representatives of CSOs working in the field of culture and prominent public persons and experts with experience in CSO development. After the Call, the Director compiles a list of applicants, submits it to the Minister of Culture who creates a list of proposed candidates and seeks approval from the Government. The Director is appointed by the Board.

For more than three months now, the Foundation does not have a functioning Board, since the mandate of the members appointed in January 2012 has expired. Despite the timely public call for Board Members issued by the Foundation’s director in September 2015, the new Board was not appointed by the former Minister of Culture, due to the dissolution of Government.  Again, only a few days after assuming office, on January 27 Minister Hasanbegović sent a memo to the Foundation’s director ordering her to annul the call issued in September and to issue a new call urgently.

The second call for Board Members was announced on February 3. All 31 applications were forwarded to minister Hasanbegović. On April 8th, the Foundation received a memo from the Ministry of Culture informing, the Foundation that the minister had not defined a list of proposed 5 members of the Board and that the Foundation is to issue an urgent third call for applications. This call was issued on April 15 and will end on April 30. At the same time, the Foundation Director’s mandate will expire on April 30, resulting in the complete stalling of all activities of the Foundation since the Foundation will not have either of its two managing bodies – the Board and the Director.  In such cases, the law stipulates that the Ministry of Administration appoints a Commissioner until the Foundation’s governance bodies are appointed.  It is also worth mentioning that the budget for Kultura Nova for 2016 is only some 9 million HRK (1,2 million EUR), and the procedural stalling is a tactic for bringing the institution down through attrition, with immediate negative effects on the continuity of independent, non-institutional cultural production throughout Croatia.

 

[1] http://dnevnik.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/karamarko-hdz-je-najsnaznija-infrastruktura-za-promjene-u-hrvatskoj—334314.html

[2] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36059463

[3] http://www.osce.org/fom/226861

The 2016 edition of the European Citizenship Awards is officially launched!

The European Citizenship Awards 2016 are a joint initiative between Volonteurope and European Civic Forum, two European networks which promote active citizenship and recognition of the importance of social justice to the cohesion of communities across Europe. The Awards celebrate the democratic and civic engagement of individuals, organisations, citizens’ groups, media platforms and social enterprises, recognising innovative initiatives and contributions which give real substance to European values, create ownership of public space and improve the lives of our communities in terms of democracy, social justice and universal access to rights.

Since 2006, Volonteurope has run a major European awards scheme: the Active Citizens of Europe (ACE) Awards. European Civic Forum introduced, in 2014, its flagship European Democratic Citizenship Awards. This year, the two networks are joining forces to launch the European Citizenship Awards 2016. The joint initiative comes at a time when the European project is facing many challenges. Through the European Citizenship Awards 2016, the two networks will recognise and give visibility to outstanding initiatives and civil society actors who put European democratic citizenship into practice and have a real, positive impact on the lives of their communities – be it at the local, regional, national or European level.

The importance of ownership and belonging are at the heart of European Civic Forum and Volonteurope’s understanding of European citizenship. This understanding, based upon the Council of Europe’s vision:

    • Includes all the aspects of living in a democratic society, such as education, culture, sustainable development, fight against discrimination, integration of minorities, participation of disabled people, gender equality and especially the equal representation of women and men in decision-making processes; and

 

  • Guarantees every citizen and civil society representative – including the most underprivileged groups – the right to take part in the democratic life and the shaping of public policies at all levels.

« Initiatives with a high potential for driving transformative change »

 

To this effect, we are looking for eligible nominations from all current member states of the Council of Europe, in the following four categories:

 

  1. Campaign of the Year: rewarding awareness-raising or advocacy campaigns organised by both informal and formal groups of citizens, including NGOs, with a real and proven impact on community life or public action, and a high potential for driving transformative change;

 

  1. Social Enterprise of the Year: rewarding businesses or not-for-profits founded on the basis of social goals, which are written into the enterprise’s vision and mission, the pursuit of which brings in positive social change in communities;

 

  1. Volunteer of the Year: rewarding individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to democratic life and to the development of a community or cause, be it through a volunteering role in an NGO or in another form of an organisation or community association (including informal groups); and

 

  1. Media Initiative of the Year: rewarding professional media and media-based collaborative initiatives which give citizens effective tools to engage and bring about positive change in their communities; successful media initiatives will have used different tools for engagement and enhanced citizens’ participation, fostered an informed citizenry and enabled the development of a common civic space.

Following the nomination period, open to all according to the rules of procedure, a judging panel meets in order to select four nominees per category, according to precise guidelines. Thus, the winners will be selected through a two-step process:

  • Shortlisting of four nominees per category by an international panel of judges;
  • Final laureates for each category will be selected from amongst the shortlisted nominees on the basis of an online vote (30 May – 27 June 2016; 50% of the overall score) and decision of the judging panel (also 50% of the overall score).

The winners in each of the four categories will be invited to an Awards Gala taking place on  12 September 2016 at the City Hall in London; the venue for the event – the “London Dining Room” at the top of the City Hall, has been kindly offered by Team London at the Office of the Mayor of London, for which Volonteurope and European Civic Forum are grateful. London has also been selected as the European Volunteering Capital 2016, through an awards scheme coordinated by the European Civic Forum. Therefore, the location of the Awards Gala in the city will make the evening even more special. Volonteurope and European Civic Forum will cover the travel and accommodation costs of the winners.

In addition, the Award winners will be given the opportunity to present their initiatives, projects and achievements during the World Forum for Democracy, taking place on 7-9 November 2016 in Strasbourg. The winners may also be invited for interviews with various European media, thus offering them further opportunities to celebrate their achievements and promote their outstanding work, ensuring that the values upon which the European project has been founded are upheld and respected across the continent.

We look forward to receiving your nominations! To apply, fill in the online form by clicking on the link below. Cant’t find the inspiration? No problem, just have a look at our past winners, it should help.

howtoapplypicture

 

Hearing Union Citizenship in Practice: Our common values, rights and democratic participation

The ECF took part in the hearing on Union Citizenship in Practice: Our common values, rights and democratic participation organised by the European Commission and the European Parliament on 15 March 2016 in Brussels. The key objective of this hearing was to present the outcomes of the public consultation and recent flash Eurobarometer surveys, gather further input and reflect, with all actors concerned, on concrete avenues to advance EU citizenship and promote European common values and democratic participation.

Through panel discussions and open debate with the audience have been addressed specific issues related to the exercise of free movement and consular protection rights, as well as ways to enhance participation in the democratic life of the EU. While EU citizens seem to become more aware of their rights and the ways to exercise them (87% say they are familiar with the term “citizen of the EU” but only 56% claim to know what it means…), they also claim more efforts to get a stronger say on EU policy making (88% of the respondents in the public consultation), mainly through consultation and dialogue mechanisms.

The ECF welcomes both the consultation and open hearing opportunity as a step forward towards shaping a holistic and more inclusive citizenship policy, which should no longer be reduced to fostering “individual mobility rights” but should tackle citizens’ participation in policy making, both individually and through civil society associations.

From this perspective, the ECF deplores that this later dimension of citizens’ participation has been completely missing in the debate and strongly hopes the 2016 EU citizenship report will take good account of citizens’ expectations to see their right to have a say on European policies reinforced both by better use of existing consultation and the creation of new dialogue mechanisms.

For us, citizenship and the common good should become a cross-cutting dimension of European policies and a key priority in all areas of the Union’s action, by means of:

  • measuring the social and environmental impact of all EU policies and legislation,
  • giving citizens and civil society organsiations the opportunity to voice concerns about those policies and the extent to which they reflect the EU founding values,
  • taking these into account when discussing political strategies, framing policy proposals, implementing policies.

You can click here for further information on the hearing.

Activizenship #2 is out !

The second issue of Activizenship has just been released ! In the continuity of the recent developments about fundamental rights and civic space in Europe, this second number focuses on the Hungarian case and the raise of the concept of Illiberal Democracy, “labelled” by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Activizenship magazine was launched as an attempt to capture current trends and transformations affecting civil society’s activities across Europe, to connect ideas and experiences about the role of civic movements and organisations in revitalising democratic and political space. Even if civil society has played a major role in many circumstances where the issues of Equality, of Solidarity, of Democracy were at stake, we witnessed over the last decade worrying trends which, left unanswered, might put a serious threat on the future of open societies, on the future of Europe as a community of values and an area of freedom, security and justice for all. Unfortunately, this trend goes hand in hand with the rise of authoritarian drifts in some of the Member States. Hungary is the most emblematic case, seemingly followed by Poland recently, in an attempt to build an “illiberal democracy”, undermining fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, mainly by limiting the independence of the judiciary, reducing media freedoms and intimidating criticism by civil society.

This new issue also tries to focus on civil society’s role in promoting common European values, as an answer to the regressive forces currently gaining strength. In both their action-oriented and advocacy-oriented capacity, they contribute to keeping our societies inclusive and democratic. When their critical role is disregarded, denied or threatened, the whole democratic space is shrinking, both at EU and national levels. The last chapter of Activizenship #2 gives the voice to activists and NGOs working on the ground on a daily basis.

This Activizenship issue features a few pages of ComicsForEquality previews. This project has been awarded Media Initiative of the Year within the last European Democratic Citizenship Awards organised by the European Civic Forum.

Click here to access the document online or contact us to receive a printed copy.