On September 6th, as part of the Jubel Festival 2019, the European Citizen Action Service and the Representation of the European Commission in Belgium organised the workshop ECI as a tool for democracy. The interactive workshop aimed to raise awareness on the European Citizens’ Initiative as a tool for participatory democracy at EU level and it benefited from the contributions of experts and organisers of ECIs.
In his opening speech, Samuel Maenhout, Information and Communication Officer of the Representation of the European Commission in Belgium, highlighted how the new ECI regulation, which will come into effect in January 2020, foresees major improvements and it will make the tool more user-friendly. He affirmed that the Representation of the European Commission in Belgium’s activities are aimed at linking citizens and institutions, following the same goals of the European Citizens’ Initiative.
A panel of experts and organisers of citizens’ initiatives gave participants a closer insight on the topic by sharing their expertise. Specifically, the panelists presented the different aspects and objectives of their citizens’ initiatives, as well as the challenges encountered during their campaigns. Following their remarks, the audience actively engaged in a discussion over the topic by exchanging views and experiences.
The participating ECI organisers were:
Dénes András Nagy, Policy Advisor, Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), The Minority SafePack Initiative
Virginia Fiume, Coordinator at Eumans and campaign coordinator ECIs ‘Respect for the rule of law in the European Union’ and ‘A price for carbon to fight climate change’
Lavinia Scudiero, representative of the Grow scientific progress: crops matter Initiative
Timothée Galvaire, representative of the Ending the aviation fuel tax exemption in Europe Initiative
The workshop was a useful event for raising awareness about the European Citizens’ Initiative among citizens as a tool for participatory democracy at EU level. A long interactive exchange between the panellists and the audience followed the panel discussion. In such debate, participants remarked on the importance of the ECI as an instrument for citizens to contribute in the future of Europe, as well as on the necessary improvements that the new regulation will bring on from January 2020. Finally, the participatory event was useful for presenting and promoting the use of the ECI Forum among citizens and organisers of citizens’ initiatives.