Civic activism has been impacted on a global and European level by the pandemic as well – we have seen many protests on divisive issues on the streets, further reduced civic and democratic space in many European countries, challenges to the efforts of organisers of European citizens’ initiatives and non-inclusion and non-recognition of the organised civil society in important processes, such as the elaboration of the Recovery plans and even the Conference on the Future of Europe.
While, in the year of its 30th anniversary, ECAS could have wished to pause and reflect on its past in order to pro-actively plan its future, in the current societal and political environment in the EU, this was not an option. We needed to continue to support citizens in exercising their rights and strive for a more inclusive and stronger citizen-centric European Union.
This is the reason why in 2021 we continued to provide tailored legal advice to citizens moving across Europe and exercising their EU rights as consumers, voters, small and medium size enterprises and to support through a variety of means organisers of European citizens’ initiative in challenging times. ECAS organised more than 14 events related to its mission in order to voice concerns and put forward proposals for improvement in its main areas of work: EU Rights and European Democracy. We have delivered 4 studies and publications on the impact of COVID-19 on freedom of movement in the EU; the potential of e-participation tools to foster democracy; the impact of populism on the EU institution and the role of the EU public sphere for democratic innovation.
Moreover, we have launched two new alliances – the Civic Hub for actors countering populism and the Alliance for citizenship competencies. ECAS is also leading the civil society consultations on digital transformation in the framework of the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe (a flagship initiative of Civil Society Europe) and took part on an expert level in two of the Citizens panels of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Although we needed to postpone our in-person anniversary celebration to next year due to the pandemic, we are still proud to release our Anniversary video today, which takes stock of what we have achieved and paves the way for the future through the eyes of our members, partners and close collaborators, to whom I warmly thank for sharing their experience in working with ECAS and wishes for its future! Many thanks to the Impact Media team who produced the video as well!
We are looking with optimism and great hopes towards 2022, when, in addition to our ongoing work on EU Rights and European Democracy, we will launch new initiatives, such as the first EU -wide crowdsourcing process on the subject of ‘air quality’, involving citizens in 10 Member States and cross-sectoral alliances to counter disinformation in CEE through our branch office in Bulgaria.
None of this, however, would have been possible without the involvement and outstanding contribution to our mission of ECAS’s Board, team and network members, and partners, to whom I would like to convey my sincere admiration for their commitment and professionalism and my best wishes for a very joyful Holiday season and a great start in 2022!
Assya Kavrakova, ECAS Executive Director