No Pause on Citizens’ Rights and Democracy: Bringing the EU to the Regional Level
October 5th will mark the 18th edition of the annual EU Regions Week, bringing together decision-makers to discuss current challenges and celebrate municipalities and regions in their ability to invest in growth and uphold good administration. Though the circumstances of the 2020 workshops are bound to be a little different (with the event being held exclusively online), this edition comes at a pressing time for ‘restarting’ Europe, with numerous issues in need of immediate attention.
One of this year’s thematic, ‘Empowering citizens’, strives to promote cohesion and good governance, which have proven to be pressing issues in the light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps most importantly, thistheme attests to the need for a citizen-centric Union, reminding us that a Union closer to its citizens always starts at the local and regional levels, and must rely on multi-actor cooperation and innovation.
The event is an occasion for ECAS to reflect on common challenges citizens face in the context of the recent pandemic, while seeking to find innovative solutions to address them. Our team will namely participate in three EU Regions Week workshops:
Workshop: ‘@HOME: Hosts Open to Mobile Europeans’
Date: October 8th, 11:30 – 13:00
@HOME: Hosts Open to Mobile Europeans – the motto of our #EURegionsWeek workshop and of the first edition of the ECAS Awards for the most EU mobile citizen-friendly location – the first of its kind in Europe!
The workshop will offer a citizen-centric perspective on EU freedom of movement obstacles, both existing and new ones as a consequence to the Covid-19 epidemic. Together, we will:
REFLECT – collectively reflect on the effects of the suspension of the freedom of movement on EU mobile citizens (EUMC) based on our ongoing transnational empirical research which provides the mobile EU citizen-centric perspective on the aftermath of the ongoing crisis by surveying the opinions of EUMCs and CSOs across the EU;
RECOGNISE – introduce the ECAS Awards and this year’s selected local best practices & steer the debate towards envisioning how the Awards in 2021 can best contribute to the restoration of the freedom of movement;
REACT – discuss innovative ways of safeguarding the freedom of movement through transnational campaigning that can change the public narrative on mobility and training of civil servants to better understand and facilitate it.
We believe many of the obstacles to freedom of movement rights can be addressed through civil servant training. This need gave birth to the IMPEU MOOC, which aims to equip national public administrations with the tools to better serve the mobile EU citizens in their country. During the workshop, participants will also have the opportunity to learn about this great project and the yielded outputs for effective inclusion and citizen engagement.
Petar Markovic, Citizens’ Rights Training Coordinator, European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), Belgium.
Elena Avramovska, Researcher, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), North Macedonia. Marie-Hélène Boulanger, Head of Unit, Union citizenship rights and Free movement, DG JUST, European Commission, Belgium. Ecaterina Constantinova, Project Manager, Improving Inclusion of Mobile EU Citizens (IMPEU), Italy. Ken Godfrey, Executive Director, European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), United Kingdom.
*Please note that after registering for the EU Regions Week event itself, you will have to select from a dropdown menu the workshop in order to add it to your sessions’ list. You can find it by its title – @HOME: Hosts Open to Mobile Europeans. Registration closes on October 1st.
Workshop: My Citizen’s Voice in the EU!
Date: October 7, 9:30 – 11:00
Have a say on what the European Union can do for your region!
“My citizen’s voice in the EU!” will constitute a platform to share your ideas to foster better participatory democracy locally.
The European Citizens’ Initiative gives EU citizens the unique opportunity to shape the legislative agenda of the EU. Join us for an interactive workshop to share your ideas about the role of regions in making participatory democracy work in the EU and learn how the European Citizens’ Initiative works in practice.
The workshop will be divided into three parts:
How well do you know the European Citizens’ Initiative
Presentation of the European Citizens’ Initiative via an interactive quiz.
The European Citizens’ Initiative in action
European citizens’ initiative organisers and experts will present concrete examples of successful initiatives of particular relevance to regional and local representatives and the key success factors.
Interactive discussion on how the European Citizens’ Initiative works and how regional and local actors can be involved in the process
Representatives from the European Commission and civil society as well as European citizens’ initiative organisers will come together to stimulate a discussion around three main points:
Why is the European Citizens’ Initiative important for regions and for citizens?
How can we engage citizens locally to have an impact at EU level?
What can regional and local actors do to support the European Citizens’ Initiative?
*Please note that after registering for the EU Regions Week event itself, you will have to select from a dropdown menu the workshop in order to add it to your sessions’ list. You can find it by its title – My Citizen’s Voice in the EU. Registration closes on October 1st.
Workshop: No Lockdown for e-Democracy
Date: October 6th, 16:30 – 18:00
A new push for European democracy is a priority of the Commission. The “No lockdown for e-democracy” panel seeks to discuss how digital technologies can empower citizens, while tackling the challenges associated with it.
Experts will discuss:
empowering citizens to take part in the EU democratic debate
future path for European democracy
The fight against COVID-19 has led to many special measures. These can have an impact on normal democratic processes and democratic debate. E-democracy could help address some of these impacts, as well as generally supporting participation and open debate. This session aims to contribute to the conversation about the promises and challenges of e-democracy during the COVID-19 response and highlighting some e-democracy best practices of EU funded projects. In the introductory part, stakeholders will share with the audience best practices of EU-funded projects related to how digital technologies can empower citizens to take part in the European democratic debate. The main part of the session will be dedicated to discussing the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how we should adapt our digital democracy policies and practices to make our democracies more resilient in times of crisis.
Marie-Hélène Boulanger, Head of Unit, Union citizenship rights and Free movement, DG JUST, European Commission, Belgium.
Borut Cink, Programme Officer, All Digital, Belgium. Simon Delakorda, Director, Institute for electronic participation, Slovenia. Malgorzata Wochowska, Project coordinator, Federación de Municipios de Madrid “Supporting democratic Union and active citizenship in digital era”, Spain.
*Please note that after registering for the EU Regions Week event itself, you will have to select from a dropdown menu the workshop in order to add it to your sessions’ list. You can find it by its title – No Lockdown for e-Democracy. Registration closes on October 1st.
What is the European Week of Regions and Cities?
The European Week of Regions and Cities (#EURegionsWeek) is the biggest annual Brussels-based event dedicated to regional policy. It is organised by the European Committee of the Regions.
The event has grown to become a unique communication and networking platform, bringing together regions and cities from all over Europe, including their political representatives, officials as well as experts and academics. Over the last 17 years, it has done much to promote policy learning and exchange of good practices.
In 2019, the #EURegionsWeek reached a record high of more than 9000 participants and more than 330 sessions, which shows the event’s relevance and potential as a platform for political communication in relation to the development of EU cohesion policy, raising the awareness of decision-makers about the fact that regions and cities matter in EU policy-making.
What is the purpose of the EURegionsWeek?
Discuss common challenges for European regions and cities and to exchange ideas on possible solutions by bringing together political representatives, decision-makers, experts and practitioners of regional policy, as well as stakeholders from business, banking, civil society organisations, academia, the EU institutions and the media;
Provide a platform for capacity-building and the exchange of experience and good practices for those implementing EU cohesion policy and managing its financial instruments;
Facilitate cooperation and networking between regions and cities;
Feed into the debate on EU cohesion policy in a wider context, including recent research and views from third countries and international organisations.
Who can participate?
The European Week of Regions and Cities and its events are aimed at:
European, national, regional and local government officials and experts in the field of managing and evaluating cohesion policy programmes;
representatives of private companies, financial institutions and 1 European and national associations;
members of the European Committee of the Regions, members of the European Parliament, and national, regional and local politicians including young elected politicians (YEPs);
citizens, who want to express their views and contribute to the debate on the future of Europe and their regions and cities;
academics, researchers, PhD or masters students and practitioners in the field of European regional and urban policy;
journalists from European, national, regional and local media outlets.