Rethink European Democracy! Democratic Engagement and Advocacy Capacities at European Level
This publication was realized with the financial support of the European Commission.
Supported by a grant from the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe.
Rethink European Democracy! Democratic Engagement and Advocacy Capacities at European Level
Contributions: Daniel Peslari, Diana Prisacariu, Iulia Sandor, Laura Carlier, Livia Mirita, Lora Ventsislavova Krasteva, Manuela Tuglui, Mariana Tintarean, Mariarosa Amato, Nataliya Nikolova, Niccolo Milanese, Rosen Dimov, Ruba Huleihel, Silvana Summa, Teresa Pullano, Zoltan Gabriel Korodi Design & Layout: Erika Kramarik
This guidebook can be freely accesed at the following websites: www.euroalter.com and www.transnationaladvocacy.eu
Part I. Democratic engagement Transnational advocacy in the EU
Advocacy What Mean?
The Charter of Fundamental Rights and its use by citizens and civil society
How can NGOs advocate at the European Parliament?
Part II. Advocacy Capacities at European Level Rethinking democracy
What does an organization need to be effective in the advocacy process?
The Common Good
Re-Locate Europe: Think East
The Advocacy Campaign
Rethinking citizenship beyond the nation state
Priorities Selection and Analysis
The Policymakers’ Premise
A significant step towards 21st century democracy in Europe: support transnational lists!
Being active citizen on a European level for your own community
European checkmate: democracy at gunpoint
Eurocrisis calls for a new politics fit for the age
Between Translation and Action - New forms of political mobilisation
“Living in a Golden Cage” Italy and the migrants from Libya
Women, work and family
Conclusions and suggestions
Activism, Collective, Commons: Interview with the Romanian Group for Social Action
The EU as a pool of opportunities to advocate for citizens’ rights
About the project Strengthening Romanian Civil Society’s Capacity to Advocate at European Level
European Networks Seminar
European Networks and Federations Seminar - Advocacy vs Lobbying
Introduction We all learn, over the years, that while there is no perfect system of governance, democracy is the only system that has proved its viability. It can be criticized, attacked and discussed, but it can’t be denied. Aristotle said that democracy is preferable; it’s less evil than all the other forms of governance, as it splits the power among many people. As any good thing, functional and verified in some places some of the time, in our places it might fail. Leaders everywhere are tempted with power. Politicians may engage in petty corruption and fall into full-sized business scandals, cheapening the system that elected them to office. It is not just corrupt leaders who should concern us, it is also an apathetic public. The biggest threat to Romanian democracy, for example, does not come from uninformed voters, but from those who have no interest in voting or the democratic process at all. “I’m so sick of politics. I don’t want to hear about politicians any more – they can do whatever they want to. I’m busy making money; I don’t have time for politics,” are words which are heard more and more often in Romania and other European countries. Educated people, who know what democracy represents, are tired of politics. Yet this negative attitude sustains the activities of irresponsible politicians, because no one is interested in holding these leaders accountable. This general lack of involvement in civil society is social suicide. Skipping the vote and justifying apathy by the incompetence of politicians is a destructive plan so we should be able to find new ideas and strategies to re-create a dialogue between the citizens and the political leaders. Not to forget that being given that European union plays an important role in our lifes we should be aware of the importance of the decisions taken by the European institutions and make sure they are ta-
This general lack of involvement in civil society is social suicide. Skipping the vote and justifying apathy by the incompetence of politicians is a destructive plan so we should be able to find new ideas and strategies to re-create a dialogue between the citizens and the political leaders.
Introduction ken transparently and after a dialogue with the civil society. A well-informed civil society actively engaged in the decision-making processes is the base on which meaningful democracy is constructed. When a community or country is developing toward democracy and a free market economy, its progress is reflected by how well citizens understand their responsibility to make their opinions heard in public, and by how well they are able to identify and recommend solutions to the problems they encounter.
Part I. Democratic engagement
Democratic engagement Transnational advocacy in the EU Niccolo Milanese Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union spells out more clearly than ever previously that the European institutions are obliged to seek the opinions and views of citizens and NGOs and should maintain an ‘open and transparent’ dialogue with them. In reality, this ‘dialogue’ is subject to three major obstacles. On the one side, the European institutions are sometimes adverse to allowing a genuine debate, do not solicit the views of citizens and civil society or only solicit those parts of civil society they are familiar with, easily have contact with, or agree with. On the other side, the great majority of citizens and NGOs in Europe have little idea how to go about trying to influence European policy, and many also have little idea of why it might be important or relevant to their concerns. The third problem is that although procedures for citizens and civil society exist to interact with the European institutions, they do not all function well, some are costly, and many are complex. There are as many reasons to engage in trying to change EU policy as there are reasons to be discontent with the current state of the world at any level, but more specifically, we can say there are two major reasons that might be of interest to civil society organisations. The first is related to human, social and fundamental rights and the rule of law. The countries that have taken part in the accession process and become full members know well that the European Union enlargement policy has dramatically improved the rights situation at least in the new member states. But once the accession process is complete, the pressure for continuous reform abates, and there is a strong danger of rolling-back on former commitments (as in the case of Hungary)
There are as many reasons to engage in trying to change EU policy as there are reasons to be discontent with the current state of the world
Democratic engagement and there is little drive to extend rights beyond the European minimum. Thus there is a need for civil society to engage with the institutions to protect social and human rights gains, and to advocate for an ever higher-European standard. The second reason is the interest of the creation of a transeuropean citizenry for the advancement of social and political goods. A transeuropean citizenry and network of civil society will compare legislation across countries and insist on bestpractice being extended from one country to another across Europe. But it will also open up possibilities for political change which are impossible at a national level. The European institutions, by their very existence as a target for lobbying, open up the possibility of creating such a new political subject. The mechanisms for engaging with the European institutions are multiple. The European Parliament is the representative body of the EU, and therefore its members have the obligation to listen to citizens and NGOs, and it is relatively easy to approach them by email, telephone or in person. Beyond this, the Parliament has a petitions committee which anyone can approach and which may lead to a resolution in the parliament. The parliament also has working groups on most areas of interest to civil society, and they can be approached through their members. The European Commission is obliged to hold open public consultations about most parts of policy. In addition to these public consultations, the Commission has â€˜expert groupsâ€™ and
Democratic engagement ‘stakeholder’ groups, and has aided in the creation of a number of civil society ‘platforms’ which should represent a federated view of their members throughout Europe (needless to say, this does not always happen, but that is precisely why pressure needs to be put on them). Beyond this, the Lisbon Treaty makes possible for the first time to launch a ‘Citizens Initiative’ whereby 1 million signatures from 8 European countries can solicit a legislative response from the Commission and a debate in parliament. The European Council remains one of the most important decision-making bodies of the Union, and one of the most closed to public and civil society input. But ultimately it is the heads of state of all European countries who make up the council, and they can be influenced in country. There is nothing to stop, and every reason to encourage, civil society across Europe working together to influence national leaders. This barely happens at all at the moment, and the politicians seem in some ways to be ahead of the civil society (witness the clear expressions of support for Sarkozy or Hollande in the recent French elections from other EU leaders). Politicians should not be ahead of civil society in this way! It is a clear sign we must work together with urgency to set the political and social agenda as we see it, because we see it from close up and deal with it every day: we are in the best position to know the situation, and we should not think our only role is to pick up the pieces of failed policies.
Democratic engagement Advocacy Advocacy, as it relates to public policy, is the process by which legislation is introduced and influenced. Advocacy means effi cient communication with policymakers on the part of civil society. Efficient communication implies a clear and sustained message, put forth by aff ected interested groups and transmitted to policymakers in good faith that it will be considered. The efficient advocacy process requires a systematic approach. It is dependent on an informed and committed advocacy group. Ideally, all groups affected by a public decision should analyze the possible solutions and approaches that might best be employed to persuade the policymakers. Policymakers are, in the simplest terms, concerned about votes and also resources. So, mong other issues, every advocacy program must relate its proposed solutions to policymakers’ interests, such as votes and public resources.
Who can develop advocacy campaigns? An advocacy campaign can be appropriately developed and applied by interested groups of civil society with all three of the following characteristics: • they are legitimate, • they are representative, and • their daily mission its aff ected by the public decision.
Democratic engagement Why is it that only interest groups should approach What is gained through advocacy campaigns? the advocacy process? Policymakers are interested in issues related to general interest problems – implying a broad group of benefi ciaries. Interest groups are the most effi ciently positioned to bring specifi c issues to policymakers’ attention.
Why should we initiate advocacy campaigns?
A successful advocacy process will: • promote an organization’s values, beliefs, and mission. • promote an organization’s “voice,” bringing to policymakers’ attention the issues that affect the organization’s members. • influence the reform process and public policies in an organization’s interest domain. • defend member interests.
Advocacy campaigns are usually initiated by structured forms of civil society, in particular, organizations that are being sustained by their members. These structures are formed with a concrete mission toward which all members voluntarily contribute. One responsibility of these organizations concerns the defense of its members in relation to public policy. Advocacy campaigns can advance the protection of an organization’s members.
Democratic engagement What Does Advocacy Mean? Civil Society Very often, when we are questioned about what civil society represents, we answer by using very general terms â€“ that we are civil society, private citizens in the public decision-making process. Civil society is the space in which policy dialogue occurs outside of formal politics. Civil society may take an active or passive role in actual policymaking, and may be sub-divided into smaller groups around diff erent interests. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business associations, academia, and the media are all part of civil society. Public Policy Public policy addresses a range of issues, and is built in the interest of a community, region, state, etc. Issues are analyzed and incorporated into a legislative plan that contains objectives and established deadlines in order to solve problems, introduce reform, and generally make life better for the majority of citizens. Civil society helps bring these issues to the attention of policymakers. Examples of issues that may be taken up by civil society are small- and medium-sized enterprise development, health, social welfare, environmental protection, labor, or demographic change. Th e responsibility for changing public policies rests on political parties. Parties are given the mandate and authority by voters to develop and apply policy. Citizen Involvement in Public Decisions Democratic governance implies the involvement of citizens in public decisions. Th is does not mean that involvement is an obligation for everyone who benefi ts from public decisions; rather, it is an exercise of citizensâ€™ constitutional right to direct the policies that aff ect their lives. In Romania, the transition from a centralized system to a
Democratic engagement democratic one has, unfortunately, not concentrated on programs and priorities built around improving the dialogue between policymakers and citizens. Policymakers have often taken the misguided view that, once elected, they are no longer obligated to ask for voters’ opinions. Citizens have given their trust to elected offi cials, believing that these leaders always think and act in support of citizens’ interests; consequently, they do not feel the need to have direct involvement in the policymaking process. Attempts to organize public meetings, debates, and other consulting formulas have often been made without committed organization advised by experience elsewhere leading to discontent, distrust, and frustration for citizens and policymakers. Lacking professionalism and strategy, this approach was unstable, expensive, and had little effect. The current Romanian legislative framework, which is more transparent, encourages civil society to take an active part in the development and implementation of public policy; meanwhile, group interests are being identified and addressed. Other features include: • A transparent policymaking process that directly sustains the anti-corruption program through citizen participation. • Direct contact between policymakers and voters through public consulting on major legislative reform. • Policymakers have access to case studies from civil society. • Through public consulting mechanisms, the legislative process is more public, which will lead to an improved image of legislative structures in Romania. • Citizens are convinced that they are more directly involved in the policymaking process.
The current Romanian legislative framework, which is more transparent, encourages civil society to take an active part in the development and implementation of public policy; meanwhile, group interests are being identified and addressed.
Benefits for Civil Society Th e public consulting mechanisms allow civil society the possibility to express their views regarding legislation in a professional debate.
Democratic engagement It will be less diffi cult for civil society to participate in the reform process, and civil society may be more willing to accept compromises they know have been reached equitably. Civil society will no longer be able to express its disapproval concerning a disappointing reform project if it has not already made an attempt to express its point of view. Civil society will be more responsible regarding the legislative process.
Democratic engagement What does an organization need to be effective in the advocacy process? Foremost, an organization needs committed members to be effective in the advocacy process – from identifying issues to conducting a campaign. Individual members who are determined to defend their interests voice their concerns to the organization’s strategic core (the administrative council, board of directors, or management), to raise support. If a concern is shared by the majority of members, it will likely become an advocacy campaign theme. The organization should be prepared to act by developing some fundamental abilities: Strength to initiate The organization must have the capacity to act and to introduce recommendations into public debate. It must be oriented towards concrete and measurable results. Relationship with members The organization must have the capacity to work for and with its members. An organization’s members must have the capacity to teamwork. The organization must be able to create consensus among its members. The participation of an organization’s members will confirm the principle, “more people means more power.” Appropriate selection of advocacy themes The organization must identify, analyze, categorize, and rank those issues that affect the interests of its members. An organization’s leaders must have the capacity to solicit feedback from members in this process. Once identified and ranked, these issues will constitute the thematic map for the organization’s advocacy activities. Members will want to become involved in advocacy activities that are appropriately selected by an organization.
Democratic engagement Research The organization must have the ability to collect pertinent information from its members and outside sources to sustain and refresh the identified advocacy theme. Without timely information, an organization will be unable to draw the interest of policymakers. With this input, policymakers will be able to see that the problem is real, contemporary, and must be solved. The organization might use external sources for accomplishing this research. Strategy and action plan development The organization should develop a strategy and an advocacy action plan. It should integrate knowledge and resources (informational, human, time, logistic, and financial) for implementing the most appropriate strategic actions toward a defined set of goals. Management The action plan should be implemented in the most efficient way. The action plan should be informed by an evaluation of the organizationâ€™s capacity to mobilize members in advocacy efforts, the available resources, and the leadership and management that will be needed in the process. Evaluation of lessons learned In developing strategy and an action plan, an organization should examine lessons learned from previous experiences. It should also assess its evaluation capacity and include an evaluation plan with its action plan. The ability to transmit this information to its members, so the knowledge may be used in future actions, is key to good evaluation practices. Evaluation of experiences is one of the most important elements of the advocacy process. Celebrating and recognizing the common effort Advocacy coordinators must recognize that successes and
Democratic engagement failures are shared by everyone in an advocacy campaign. Each person has an active role, regardless of how small their contribution to the process, even if they are simply a supporter. Recognizing the advocacy process as a common effort will generate membersâ€™ sustained support for future actions, attract new supporters, and show policymakers and civil society that the group is a viable force. Celebrating the end of various stages in the advocacy process is useful for members â€“ and policymakers and other supporters, too â€“ even if the result of that stage was not quite satisfactory. It helps everyone to mark progress in the advocacy campaign. This approach will also raise the public profile of the organization, which will be useful in future advocacy campaigns.
Democratic engagement The Advocacy Campaign Forming the Advocacy Committee Developing an advocacy strategy in membership-based organizations is absolutely necessary if “the defense of member interests” is truly the goal of an organization. For the most eff ective advocacy, an organization should establish an advocacy committee to guide the advocacy strategy and process. The committee comprises organization members, who may also be part of the organization’s administration and management. The committee does not need more than five to seven members, but they should represent the organization’s most important areas of interest. The advocacy committee’s role is to develop and apply the organization’s advocacy strategy. Committee members must possess certain qualities and capacities in order to ensure the advocacy program’s success. The committee should: • Become acquainted with legislative mechanisms • Focus on solutions and be capable of overcoming obstacles • Be creative • Develop their leadership capacity • Cultivate good communication and persuasion skills • Maintain good relations with policymakers • Work toward cooperation with diff erent groups • Take responsibility in the organization’s name • Be committed to the cause • View failure as part of the process of achieving a goal (without looking for scapegoats) • View success as a result of the group eff ort • Maintain vision (both long- and mid-term)
The advocacy committee should be led by a person chosen and accepted by the comprising members. This person’s responsibilities are oriented towards organizing and evaluating the advocacy process, and coordinating the organization’s advocacy committee. The advocacy committee should have financial and logistical resources at its disposal, and, depending on the organization’s size and the scope of the advocacy activities, a bigger or smaller executive team. The committee’s executive team implements the strategy and plan developed by the advocacy committee. The executive team should have: • Developed abilities in the investigation and research of member problems • Developed abilities in public relations and mass-media communications • Background in marketing • Ability to develop and maintain good relations with political experts and policymakers • Abilities in process development and management • Ability to work with a team • Ability to document and report on activities • Ability to liaise and coordinate with other similar organizations • Ability to identify relevant areas of the legislative process as it relates to member interests
Democratic engagement Building an Advocacy Campaign Relation + Information = Access Access + Process = Results Results + Monitoring + Communication = Credibility Credibility x Time = Power
Priorities Selection and Analysis In this stage, issues for action are prioritized using information obtained from members. Priority issues are identified when: • The issue is relevant to the majority of members. • Solving the problem would have immediate benefi ts for members. • The problem can be found on the public agenda; this is a guarantee that the • problem is also being considered by policymakers. • There are viable solutions/recommendations identifi ed for the problem. • There are enough resources to start the advocacy process. Issues that are relevant to only a small number of members, or that require a long period of time and many resources, should be eliminated, especially if there has never been another legislative agenda developed within the organization before. An organization should work on issues for which it can conduct a successful advocacy process. This success will prove to members that advocacy delivers benefits. In this stage, solutions are not developed extensively. Pos-
Democratic engagement sible solutions are developed only when they are assessed by the following criteria: • Will the solutions improve the conditions for members? • Will the solutions generate support for the organization from the majority of members? • Are the solutions in line with the organization’s mission? • Are the solutions realistic and actionable? • Are the solutions understandable for diff erent audiences? • Would the solution create unfair conditions for other interest groups? • Is this a problem that has been identifi ed by the public? • Would the solution’s approach be in members’ interest? • Would the solution attract other members in the future? Once all of these elements have been considered, the legislative agenda can be approved by the organization’s leadership team, and it becomes the strategic advocacy document of the organization. A short publication that outlines the legislative priorities and identifi ed solutions can be distributed to members, policymakers, and other special interest groups. Taking into account that the environment in which an organization exists is extremely dynamic, the legislative agenda must be periodically re-examined and updated in order to reflect members’ priorities. Once initiated, this review will have a continuous character, and will help in maintaining the relationship between the organization and its members. The document can be used in attracting new resources, and in helping an organization identify itself as a legitimate and respected element of civil society. The advocacy committee regularly reviews and develops programs, applicable tactics, useful instruments, and necessary resources in respect to each theme of the legislative agenda (also considering the identified priorities). The committee will develop a budget for a strategy that is realistic and relevant (and regularly reviewed).
Democratic engagement The Policymakersâ€™ Premise If individual policymakers want to remain in a leading position they must gain the support of the public/civil society. Support cannot be obtained without costs. Support can be given in exchange for benefits from the government, or in the aim of influencing the government. If the government as a whole does not have support, it will lose its authority. Without authority, the government cannot implement its decisions. To practice politics means to negotiate, to make transactions, and to compromise between different sides and positions. Civil society groups are included among these sides and positions. Advocacy campaigns are an ensemble of actions concerning a certain theme, directed towards political actors in the aim of influencing public decisions to the benefit of those advocating a certain position.
Democratic engagement Being active citizen on a European level for your own community Nataliya Nikolova Active citizenship wide paradigm which promotes the debate on rights and responsibilities to uphold ,is giving us twofold opportunities for action; the process of exercising our citizenship not just legally recalling it, indulge ourselves to know more about the institutions, bodies on a European level, where we have the right to ask for information and as well we are targeting in it as citizens, to lobby and to have own representatives. However ways of promoting, being active citizens is as well to be a member of a civic organization, being a volunteer , where we can initiate projects, write petitions, being in contact with our MEPs, being involved in the new legislative act of the EU - European Citizenâ€™s initiative. Coming from a post communist country sometimes prevent you from being active for your own community due to lack of working local mechanisms for influence in the current local institutions. Nowadays the whole mechanisms of who exercise power, and who can provide policy, for the average European citizen, has the answer European commission. However the whole process of taking decisions, negotiating on it, initiating policies, submitting proposals for them, is not so simplified, and knowing better the consultative bodies, and networks can give us not just overall picture but provoke us of being active. The European Economic and Social Committee(EESC) is a consultative body where all the EU countries have representatives- members. Overall there are 344 members who are appointed for a term of five years. The representatives of Eu-
Democratic engagement ropean social occupational interest groups are devided into 3 groups ´- Employers , Employees Various Interests´where we can find representatives of NGOs and the civic society organizations. Members are nominated by national governments and appointed by the Council of the European Union for a renewable 5-year term of office. The currant mandate is for the period 2010-2015. Consultation of the EESC by the EC or the Council is mandatory in certain cases, and in others is optional. However the EESC also adopt opinions on its own level. Due to the Single European Act(1986) and the Maastricht Treaty (1992)the topics of interest and issues that can be reffered by the EESC were extended- including regional and environmental policies. Various opinions are delivered per year by the 6 sections of the Committee Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment (NAT), Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO), Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC), External Relations (REX), The Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT) and Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN). Forward the process of approval by the members of own opinion during the Section meeting and during the montly Plenary of the EESC , it is being sent to the Community decision making bodies (EP and EC) and later on published in the in the EU’s Official Journal. Quite often speaking about EESC many civic organizations recalled to it as a bridge between institutions and civic society. Good input and opportunity for active members of NGOs, platforms, networks is to follow the work of the Committee. Its sections publish all the opinion in progress and finally approved. Thus could also give as input on what policy is the EU working , and like that we can easily contact its members , representatives of various interests and country as well. Full data and contacts can be found on the website www.eesc.europe.eu
Democratic engagement The Committee of Regions is another consultative body, which gives voice to 344 members- regional and locally elected representatives from the 27 EU countries. Most of its members are mayors, vice mayors and locally representatives. It has like the EESC plenary (6 per year), and comprises of 6 sections covering areas like employment, civil protection, transport and trans European networks. The work in the various sections requires consultations with other stakeholders, which as well supports the diversity of this body’s decisions and opinions. Knowing well whose mayors and representatives are part of a specific group work and section can gives us good impetus to connect and present our statement on specific issues. Very often the work of the COR and EESC is supported not just by the EU administrators and secretariat but as well by experts in specific area. For the purpose of the publicity of one opinion COR is organizing public hearing. which can also be a platform for sharing own concern on the specific topic. The Fundamental rights platform is another bridge for the civic society organizations to collaborate and to be consulted. It was launched by the Fundamental Rights Agency in 2008 and nowadays involves more than 300 organizations ´representative of interests groups, networks, and local organizations from all EU member states countries. The set goals “ to act as the main channel for the FRA to engage civil society and to ensure a close cooperation between the Agency and relevant stakeholders” is being exercised in various events, calls for proposals, and the annual meeting. The members of the Platforms can influence the FRA agenda – submitting opinions and like this to influence the Annual work of the FRA- It is also in accordance with the Council Regulation, art. 10 (1). Within the work of the Fundamental rights platform there is
Democratic engagement an advisory panel, who supports the work of the Director and gives advices for the various conducted meetings and events. The work of the platform can be followed online and in June is expected to be launched the third expansion of the platform with new members. Being a member of it requires as also code of conduct, which can give you as well guidelines for the membership. Another and may be more direct opportunity for influence for the active citizens and members of various organizations , can be the new form of public participation within EU mechanism of influence – the European citizen’s initiatives. Introduced by the Lisbon Treaty and launched from 1April 2012 this new form of active participation, and a new instrument will allow 1 million citizens from at least one quarter of the EU Member States to invite the European Commission to bring forward proposals for legal acts. The areas in which the EC can be intervened and propose new legal act has to be from its area of competence. However the requirements which says that the organizer’s of a citizen’s committee should be composed of at least 7 EU citizen who are resident in at least 7 different members states, and that should have 1 year to collect the necessary statements of support, certified by the competent authorities in the Member states, the ECI is a promising
Democratic engagement instrument for influence on one side the status quo and as well to support the European idea. Although this instrument is new one, and will need time for evaluation, we can see its promising benefit for the development of a more open dialogue between the institutions and the civil society. Brief evaluation of the tools which enables us in collection of the online signatures, the development of a user friendly and comprehensive guide, the easy way of find initiative which to support and like this to be an active member for your local community, can support the statement that something new is on the way and it can bring the policies of the EU closer to citizens because of the citizens. Being active in the meaning of knowing your rights and responsibilities, knowing how to influence the elective bodies and institutions of the EU, can support the active participation a twofold process. Reversing slogans like Think global act local for some people look like a well released public campaign when we can memorize slogans for the benefit of it. However â€˜act localâ€™ nowadays requires being aware of many EU instruments and tools, because of the Europeanization of the Member states policies. Letâ€™s try not to act on words but trough the mechanisms of the instruments of the EU brought our initiative, mission to a success story.
Democratic engagement Activism, Collective, Commons: Interview with the Romanian Group for Social Action
An interview with four of the founding members of The Group for Social Action (GSA), an intellectual, activist, leftwing platform, launched in Cluj (Romania) at the beginning of 2011. The group brings together young intellectuals, activists and artists. Diana Prisacariu (European Alternatives): What is the reason behind the coming to life of the GSA platform and what means have you used to reach it? Ciprian Bogdan: Lately, we have noticed the existence of a significant number of people affiliated with the left-wing, yet they were not visible, nor organised enough in terms of numbers. The initiative of the GSA intended to correct this slip by founding a platform for this mass of critical voices, a mass which is both ‘heterogeneous’ (in terms of background and opinions) and open to dialogue at the same time. We actually tried to keep to one of the fundamental left-wing principles, a type of solidarity able to foster different opinions and visions. Adi Dohotaru: GSA was created to be a space of encounter for various left wing ideological options. Still, in the long run, we intend to contribute to the ignition of political debates and generate solutions for a “more democratic and more equitable society at the dawn of a post-capitalist world”, just like we mentioned in our declaration of principles.
Democratic engagement Lucian Butaru: We are mostly interested in contributing to the description of the problems. Nowadays, we deal with a kind of monopoly of the right-wing, which excludes alternative solutions from the very start. This process is meant to offer the necessary instruments to the “indignant” protesters. Norbert Petrovici: Cluj (Romania) is the place that has lately witnessed the birth of an important intellectual, leftwing movement and we needed a way to come up with a debate and social activism platform. Thus, GSA became a left-wing network among others, yet with a clearly stated aim to create meeting places or participate in any other solidarity proposals. Diana Prisacariu (EA): What are the main causes hindering a recognition of the left-wing legacy already in place in Romania? Which are the mechanisms that make right-wing monopoly prevail in the Romanian cultural environment? Ciprian Bogdan: It is not the nostalgic “return” of the left-wing tradition that matters, but rather the search for answers to the structural problems of contemporary society. Yet, if the relationship to the past is to be taken into
consideration, it can be said that one of the impediments against taking on various elements of the left-wing heritage is their often conflictual intrinsic plurality. There exist different left-wing traditions that are often not compatible with each other, even on a fundamental level. Furthermore, some of these traditions were compromised because they protected, or, at least, they did not dare to be critical enough of the post-war societies of Eastern Europe. With regards to the present perception across Romania, the big public associates left-wing principles to the national-communist experiment, and, recently, with the unpredictable, sometimes almost conservative attempts, of the Social Democratic Party. Lucian Butaru: Therefore, the Romanian left-wing intellectuals find themselves in the awful situation of fighting a multiple war: first, against the comical representations of the left-wing parties widely spread among the population via various media channels controlled or influenced by the right-wing intellectuals; second, against the present left-wing orientations that, due to the nationalistic, conservative and, sometimes, nondemocratic appearance, partially stick to the comic representations presented by the right-wing orientation; third, against the inequalities inherent to capitalism.
Democratic engagement Adi Dohotaru: Yet, if we are really keen on “bringing back” Romanian left-wing traditions, we can always refer to the XIXth century - first half of the XXth century movements. There used to exist a variety of movements like progressive anarchist, social-democratic, Marxist, feminist, etc. worth being analysed and looked at closely. There aren’t too many Romanians who remember our socialists (as opposed to the liberal and conservative movements) fiercely demonstrating for universal voting right, workers’ rights, rights of the farmers associated in agricultural cooperatives to receive land, women’s rights to be hired in the public sector, freedom of expression, or minorities’ rights. These ideas led to the appearance of numerous socialist magazines, hundreds of unions, protests, public campaigns, strikes, etc. This heritage, even if less important than in other European countries, remains unclaimed for two main reasons. On one hand, the quality of the historiography before 1989 is rather doubtful, since instead of critically analysing and filtering this heritage, it presents it in a declamatory, triumphalist and propagandistic manner, spoiling it of any real content. On the other hand, Romanian right-wing intellectuals and citizens reject this heritage because a major confusion between the democratic socialist left-wing and authoritarian Bolshevism is still perceived. This confusion is most often a type of manipulation technique used by the post-revolutionary right-wing discourse in order to articulate its cultural and ideological hegemony. To be straightforward, according to the discourse of this historiographical vulgate, any movement questioning capitalism (or rather “the free market” in their opinion) is antidemocratic and of an authoritarian persuasion. Norbert Petrovici: I cannot see an explicit stake in regaining a local or even national left-wing tradition, even if many ideas of the end of 19thcentury-beginning of the 20th century represent important theoretical ideas. I find the centre-peripheral type analyses extremely interesting, as well as the particular
Democratic engagement way of theorising the peripherisation of the Romanian countries. In my opinion, it is much more important to build regional and global networks that activate and produce alternative knowledge, allowing for a post-capitalist order to be taken into consideration. Diana Prisacariu (EA): The effects of the financial speculations in Southern European economies are much more discussed than the present situation in Eastern Europe. What are the defining aspects of the economic crisis in Romania? What was the response of the government to the blackmail of the financial markets? Ciprian Bogdan: The Romanian ruling class settled the issue of the financial crisis using a neoliberal logic: the one who pays for the crisis is the state itself, including the state employees and retired people. Another issue is the fact that the right-wing ruling politicians used the global financial crisis into a pretext for the “reformation” of the Romanian society, which is turning into an aggressive attack against the principles of the social state taken for a ghost of the communist heritage and, at the same time, of the lack of competitiveness of the Romanian society. Lucian Butaru: It is hard to say if the
actions of the present ruling class were governed by financial blackmail of or by their own lack of competence. It is nonetheless possible that the truth be right in the middle, due to the fact that, once the regional differences are surpassed, most of the governments keep repeating the mistakes of the inter-war crisis of austerity during a consumption crisis. The answer can only be one, no matter the point of view that we have on the situation: and that is ideological-political mobilisation. The “post-ideological” monologue following 1989 is not only boring, and the cluster of parties towards the center is not only a token of “maturity”, both situations set the alarm bells ringing. Democracy itself is in danger, not only welfare and calm of everyday life. Norbert Petrovici: The Romania of the beginning of the ‘90s used coherent neoliberal policies of austerity and minimization of the investments in welfare. This is also due to the constant application of consensual politics coming directly from Washington, as well as to the fact that our theoretical imaginary assimilates neoliberalism to capitalism. The new IMF agreements for surpassing the present capitalist crisis have left the main austerity politics unchanged so far. Yet, we are definitely dealing with a radicalisation of the neoliberal programme
Democratic engagement in terms of public policies due to the non-governance of the labour market, privatisation of the academic, health and public order systems, and new politics of spatial competition that only deepen the spatial gap. Diana Prisacariu (EA): What does being a left-wing activist mean in a place like present day Romania? Lucian Butaru: Most of us are novices in the field so we’re experimenting and trying to learn from the mistakes, both ours and those of others. Adi Dohotaru: To us, activism is an intense form of promoting values, social campaigns, truths, etc. Why should we challenge anything? We chose challenge and activism because in Romania, and not only, citizens are not deemed competent enough to make decisions, as opposed to elites who, based on presupposed natural aptitudes and qualities, hold a pre-eminent right to access them. Our activism is intended to change this perception, and, if possible, contribute to solving specific problems. For example, GSA together with the Civil Organization Workgroup - Grupul de Lucru al Organizațiilor Civice (www.gloc.ro) – has lately participated in various social protests that had a real impact, from blocking illegal construction sites to demanding access to housing for roma communities. Norbert Petrovici: Being an activist has so far come down to putting big efforts on justification, creating equivalences, demonstrating communality, showing capability of creating goods that are commonly managed, testifying to the other’s humanity and to the fact that no human being can
Democratic engagement be commoditised and assimilated to a profit resource. Diana Prisacariu (EA) : What do you think of the movement of the indignados, recently sweeping Europe? What do you think are the main reasons behind the poor participation in Romania? Adi Dohotaru: The “indignants”’ protests, most of them young, coming from the EU countries was wrongly and emphatically entitled “European Revolution” because neither major speeches, nor destructuralization of the system were uttered. Despite all this, we took part in the demonstrations in Cluj, Romania, which barely counted 100 people, because we primarily wanted to sympathise with the Spanish youth whose chances of a decent future are threatened by the increased lack of opportunity in the labour market, due to the inequalities of Spanish society, etc. Secondly, we participated in the movement “Real Democracy Now” (the phrase that pushed GSA to sympathise rather than the pompous one “revolution”) to socialize with other young people that experienced hardships in accommodating to our extremely mercantile society. At this moment, the best framework that we can come up with is provided by GSA lectures and workgroups on the creative techniques of citizens’ implication in public affairs. The idea behind these techniques is to present and imagine a deliberative democratic framework to the nowadays capitalism and parliamentary democracy. This GSA seminar will start this fall and aims at a public made up of students, young intellectuals, NGOs, representatives of some associations of landowners, union members, journalists, etc.
The “indignants”’ protests, most of them young, coming from the EU countries was wrongly and emphatically entitled “European Revolution” because neither major speeches, nor destructuralization of the system were uttered.
Democratic engagement The EU as a pool of opportunities to advocate for citizens’ rights Rosen Dimov, LLM in EU law National barriers to participation and advocacy are removed, opening the door of an emergent transEuropean civil society.
Very often the national mechanisms to defend one’s rights, especially in newcomer EU member states, do not proof to be sufficient for the complete protection of citizens. Therefore, residents of transitional democracies in the Post-Communist bloc, may take advantage of the tools and measures provided by the Union in order to seek justice for their individual or collective claims. The Fundamental Rights Agency, based in Vienna, is the latest innovation in the promotion of human rights. It provides assistance to national and European authorities with regards to the provisions of the EU Fundamental Rights Charter, bridging those bodies with the expertise of cooperating civil society organisations within the Fundamental Rights Platform. The EU equivalent of local and national ombudsmen is the European Ombudsman. Vested with huge moral power, (s)he can deal with complaints of citizens about mal-treatment by the European institutions. By exception, that authority does not extend to the EU Court of Justice. A loud voice over a citizen’s claim can be vocalised at the EU stage by the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions. After considering a petition admissible and undergoing an investigation, the Committee takes action (ie political) and informs the claimant about it. Yet, whatever response is given, it does not have a judicial effect. Thus, in order to pursue juridical justice, citizens can refer to the EU Court of Justice that handles complaints of citizens regarding violations of their rights under EU law. To that respect,
the court can be helpful and process the matter in cases such as excess of power by EU bodies, national authorities not implementing the EU legislation, a legal entity whose misconduct injures the legitimate interests (under Community law) of another legal person, etc. The Court is also able to issue a so-called preliminary ruling that gives the referring national court or tribunal an obligatory interpretation over a stipulation in Community legislation. Following the accession of the EU to the European Human Rights Convention, the EU Court is bound by the judgements of the Court of Justice in Strasbourg and serves as the last resort in the judicial setup before the complaint can reach the Stasbourg court. Another approach for fostering the advocacy for rights and interests of citizens across Europe is lobbying. Interest representation might provoke negative connotations but is well rooted in the EU system. Over the years the European Commission and the Parliament have increasingly sought the opinion of various stakeholders (regional bodies, civil associations, economic enterprises, etc) that the current estimation, according to the official register keeps track of over 4 000 units of interest that are tabled (and possibly heard) before those institutions.
Before a legislative act is adopted, the lobbying entities fuel the Parliament and the Commission with future-driving proposals that are laid down on qualitative and quantitative data. In exchange for that help civil society organisations receive funding of approximately 2% of the EU budget, while the other interest groups simply get their expectations fulfilled and bear the fruits in the follow-up. Lobbying at the EU level contributes also to the passive citizens who benefit the improvements in policy and legislation. National barriers to participation and advocacy are removed, opening the door of an emergent trans-European civil society. The latter being diverse, groups of less concentrated interests happen to be less represented, or even underprivileged in the dialogue with EU institutions. Overwhelmed by a huge amount of variant-quality expertise pieces, the Parliament and the Commission may opt for a counter-citizenry partially efficient response. In the long-run this legislative measure may make citizens victims at all stages - from the consultative process to the moment when law is adopted and enforced to the detriment of their interests. Therefore, the ultima ratio solution would be consistent communication and cooperation through platforms such as European Alternatives.
Democratic engagement About the project Strengthening Romanian Civil Society’s Capacity to Advocate at European Level Zoltan-Gabriel KORODI - LGBTeam Participation in this project enlightened lobbying and advocacy terms. It was not just definition enlightenment but also practical enlightenment. The first seminar introduced the advocacy term and was backed up with good practice examples. Applied on LGBT issues it was recommended searching of allies in non LGBT NGOs in order to have a common ground in launching a petition starting at local, regional, and national and if not solved at European level. It was made clear that strong campaigns are needed in order to get a big part of the civil society involved in a petitions success; also European networks should be created. The most important attribute of an European network should be its credibility, which in some cases is absent because they lack the bottom-up way of construction. Another important step in order to have better European networks is that NGO’s get involved at every level and at any time because “fresh” ideas are needed. Presentation of how the European parliament, European committee and European Court of Human Rights work and are managed was the second seminars main objective. There were presented ways in which each of them can be approached, also the ombudsman’s attributions were clarified. Third seminar had a more interactive and constructive mode to define advocacy and lobbying. The terms were put
one against the other and their pros and cons were presented, resulting in advocacy being “the winner”. Advocacy is cheaper, easier and more approachable by NGO’s. The climax of the seminar was the part in which the 3 types of NGO’s participating had to develop an advocacy plan with the learned skills. Last seminar in Cluj Napoca was as interactive as the third one but it focused on functional mechanisms for European policymaking. Three case studies were presented and debated. The LGBT NGOs built a mechanism to legalize same sex marriages in all European member countries. The steps of policymaking were better acknowledged by working on a possible campaign. From the moment of the current situation identification and to the moment on how to face
a fail of the campaign, the steps were clearer and easier one by one. The visit to The European Parliament in Brussels gave us the opportunity to feel the real vibe of advocacy and policymaking. Also the time spent in Brussels gave me the opportunity to meet two LGBT federations (ILGA Europe and YGLIO) and to get closer to the idea of advocacy. All in all it was a great opportunity for me, as LGBTeam president, to learn about ways in which I can make better use of my resources and enlarged my vision on how things could get better for the LGBT community that I represent. Last but not least, on a personal level, I got to meet great and interesting people.
Democratic engagement European Networks Seminar Diana Prisacariu BA Student-Faculty of History and Philosophy Member of the Transeuropa Network The first seminar was built around the topic of successful European Networks and Federations and took place on November 22nd at the County Library in Cluj-Napoca. The two international experts invited were Niccolo Milanese (director of European Alternatives and co-director of European Alternatives European Economic Interest Grouping) and Segolène Pruvot (expert in UrbAct, a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development across Europe). The event was attended by 8 of the 9 partner organisations and by a series of other stakeholders, such as students (mostly members of our local Transeuropa Network team) and internationals (such as ERASMUS students and interns in Romanian NGOs and CSOs). We were also happy to discover the interest of environmental organisations, such as InfoOMG and representatives of the Salvați Roșia Montană Campaign, who participated and got actively involved in the seminar. The seminar began with the presentation of the projects ‘objectives and main activities, made by Diana Prisacariu, member of European Alternatives and the Transeuropa Network, and was followed by the introduction of the 2 international experts and the activities of each of the participant organisations, as well as of their motivations to take part in the Transnational Advocacy project. The discussion continued with a presentation and debate on the Map of the Procedure of Implementing a Legislative Proposal in the Commission, held under the coordination of
Niccolo Milanese. The presentation and discussions were preceded by the mapping of the tools for dialogue and consultation available at EU level, based on the working documents produced by DG Comm. The next stage of the seminar included the presentation of the structures and of the underlying premises that have led to the success of the 2 European networks and Federations, European Alternatives and UrbAct, presentations made by Niccolo Milanese and Segolène Pruvot, respectively. The discussions following the 2 introductive speeches then took the shape of a Q&A session that successfully blended technical questions (eg Who are the exact stakeholders who can apply for UrbAct funding?) to more sensitive questions (eg How can successful relationships with the decision-makers within the Commission be developed by UrbAct representatives?) In a later stage, each of the organizations present at the seminar made a description of their activities and of their main queries concerning the possibility of forming transnational networks capable of effectively influencing European policymaking. Some of the descriptions
were longer and involved small Q&A sessions between participants, and other somewhat briefer, but all of them included mentioning the strong belief of the need to go beyond the local and national paradigms in advocacy-making. Such descriptions were made by Oana Bajka from the Intercultural Institute from Timisoara, by Oana Teona Banu for Turn Cultural Association and Zoltán Gabriel Korodi for LGBTeam. Recommendations were made by Niccolo Milanese for the LGBT and activist organizations present at the event. He also suggested to the representatives of the TURN Association – organisers of the International Romani Art Festival about existing transnational associations that they can join so as to improve their visibility at a European level, such as, for example, the European Festivals Association,. Controversy erupted when discussing the situation of the Roma community in Timișoara, and the way in which local realities interacted with the objectives of the International Romani Art Festival. The mutually agreed upon conclusion was that the Festival had a positive impact on a high and diversified number of
Democratic engagement locals, though it was very difficult for it to operate a strong change in mentalities and in what policymaking is concerned during the short run. Detailed examples of good practice fostered by civil society in what Roma rights are concerned were also given by participants themselves â€“ such as, for example, the fight led by GLOC (The Working Group of Civil Associations) so as to empower the Roma community that was forcefully evicted from central Cluj to the cityâ€™s garbage dump in December 2010. GLOC is formed around two major associations, one of which is Amare Prhala and the other the Desire Foundation. The afternoon session of the seminar included a workshop, entitled The influence of civil society networks on European legislation and policymaking. Successful advocacy tools and mechanisms. The participants worked in 3 teams, each focused on the discovery of the best tools available for a good collaboration between NGOs and CSOs, on one hand, and local, national and European stakeholders â€“ on the other hand. One of the main conclusions arising from this exercise are that, for Romanian NGOs and CSOs to be able to form transnational coalitions, they must know the activities and the mission that they are following at a local and national level. From this point of view, the Transnational Advocacy project was a useful tool for target-
ed NGOs and CSOs to meet, discuss and network for the middle and long run. Another important conclusion was that coalitions of NGOs and CSOs from as many fields of activity as possible should be formed and become active at a local level in relation to the local authorities. Such a platform is due to be created, for example, in Cluj during the spring 2012 around GAS. This platform will act as the link between the citizens and key stakeholders in different positions, from electric and water companies, to owners of entertainment facilities and tennant associations. Last, but not least, an important tip to be shared between the participants is the importance of using new media and other Internet-based platforms so as to form and interact in transnational networks, built up of associations all throughout the European Union and the candidate countries (the latter, as part of a future similar legislative framework as the former). In conclusion, the European Networks and Federations seminar represented a first and important incentive for the future of the Transnational Advocacy project, as a result of both varied forms of participation and of the feedback received from the same participants on the interesting character of the project and the possibility of meeting their peers throughout Romania.
Democratic engagement European Networks and Federations Seminar - Advocacy vs Lobbying Iulia Sandor MA Student-Coomunity development & Urban planning Member of the Transeuropa Network The 2nd seminar on European Networks and Federations of the project Strengthening Romanian Civil Society’s Capacity to Advocate at a European Level had as experts Letizia Gambini and Radu Seuche from the Brussels-based European Youth Forum. The event took place in Cluj (Romania) on February 12th, 2012. The seminar focused on the theme ‚Avocacy versus Lobbying’ . A number of 22 enthusiastic participants from different backgounds took part at the event: partner NGOs or just students interested on the subject and, of course, members of our local Transeuropa Network team. The beginning of the seminar was marked by a short decription of the entire project, made by Daniel Peslari, member of European Alternatives and the Transeuropa Network in Cluj Napoca, followed by the presentation of the 2 trainers. The experts were happy to offer some further details regarding their positions as experts at European Youth Forum. Then, the part that followed was very funny and pragmatic in the same time as we had a teambuilding that helped us to get to know each other better and also we shared ideas and interesting things related to the organisations we represented. The seminar continued with a brainstorming with regard to what lobby and advocacy mean. Everyone expressed an opinion and, at one point, out of the ideas it could be noticed a negative perception of lobby. A divergent discussion among participants aroused whilst some of them tried to find out the possible reasons why lobby is generally perceived in this way.
Democratic engagement Letizia and Radu interfered to clarify the two concepts. Since both aim at influencing the decision making, the essential difference between them concerns the level of transparency and the stakeholders. Advocacy is the process of influencing public policies in a transparent way while lobby is a direct method of influencing the political actors in favor of interest groups. Later during the day, the theoretical part was consolidated by a practical exercise through which the participants better understood the procces of planning an advocacy campaign. Four teams were formed in order to work on planning an advocacy campaign after which the results were shared and exchanged among participants for providing feedback and improvements. The process of advocating was deconstructed and reconstructed within different scenarios that concerned different problems present at the community level. Hence, the most important steps of planning were marked: the importance of legislative agenda, prioritizing when defining a problem, to monitorize, research and documentation, formulate the opinion and scan the possible stakeholders including the political ones, draw out an implementation and communication plan, allocate the resources, implement, evaluate and do not forget to celebrate. The participants showed greater interest in advocacy than lobby, probably because of the more activist approach and also because lobby implies oftenly negotiation and conflict mediation among the political actors. The seminar prooved to be very succesful as it showed the opportunities on how civil society can engage in and improve its capacity at influencing the public decision making. One other aspect worth mentioning is also the fact that the participants shared their contacts among them and are looking for future fruitful colaborations.
Democratic engagement The Charter of Fundamental Rights and its use by citizens and civil society Diana Prisacariu BA Student-Faculty of History and Philosophy Member of the Transeuropa Network
The second seminar in the project Transnational Advocacy had as main topic The Charter of Fundamental Rights and its use by citizens and civil society. The seminar took place in the Glass Hall (Sala de Sticlă) of the Cluj-Napoca Town Hall, on December 10th, 2011. The date was chosen due to the international celebration of the Human Rights Day that takes place in most countries on December 10th. On this occasion, LADO/The League for the Defense of Human Rights, organised the Migration and Human Rights Festival. Therefore, European Alternatives established a partnership with LADO for the organisation of the seminar, a partnership that has proved to be very useful from many important points of view, especially a good coordination of events organised by local civil society – bringing together different audiences, as well as different paradigms on the protection of human rights. The two international experts invited to lead the Charter of Fundamental Rights seminar were Rosen Dimov (FLARE Network) and Nataliya Naskou Nikolova (EcoSoc – The European Economic and Social Council). Due to an increased level of audience, formed by both project partners and many other stakeholders, such as LADO, their members and network of collaborators, Transeuropa Network members, as well as to the dynamism and deeply prepared exercises provided by the two experts, the resulting quality and intensity of the discussions
The two international experts invited to lead the Charter of Fundamental Rights seminar were Rosen Dimov (FLARE Network) and Nataliya Naskou Nikolova (EcoSoc – The European Economic and Social Council).
Democratic engagement increased compared to the first seminar. Thus, the programme began with an introductive speech on Overall framework of human rights, held by Rosen Dimov, followed by ice-breaking exercises between the approximately 35 participants present at the seminar. The seminar continued with a conference on Institutional mechanisms for human rights defence at the EU level and Civil society organisations and Brussels, held by both experts, Rosen and Natalyia. A Q&A session, followed by a coffee break, left the stage for an interactive debate based on the Personal stories of the trainers, a series of key moments in Natalyia’s and Rosen’s relations with the European Commission and FLARE (Rosen) and the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee (Nataliya). Then followed a presentation made by Natalyia Naskou Nikolova on the Communication and interaction channels to Romanian representatives in the EU apparatus. The most interesting and interactive part of the seminar, that built on the lessons learnt and the synergy developed by the audience, despite the strong differences existing within this same audience, was made by the Exercise - How to file a complaint before the EU Court? How to lodge a petition in the Committee of Petitions? The methodology used in the exercise included teamwork on three case studies that represent hot and very hot topics for Romanian civil society: the Salvați Roșia Montană Campaign, the rehabilitation of the Central Park/Parcul Central Cluj-Napoca and the situation of the Roma community evicted from a central area of Cluj to the city’s waste dump (the Pata Rât Case). The teams were created randomly and worked on the topics for about two hours. Besides moderating the discussions and debates among the three teams and providing concrete solutions for the several dead ends that arose as part of these discussions, Rosen Dimov and Natalyia Naskou Nikolova also kindly added an im-
Democratic engagement Like in the case of the first seminar, we were very pleased by the commitment of the environmental activists present at the event. Consequently, we decided that their networking capacities, as well as their interest in shaping the discussions towards their areas of interest and in finding solutions for the identified problems, deserve to be better covered by the Transnational Advocacy project.
portant set of documents, consisting especially of .ppts and images as a clear set of materials to be further used by the participants and for dissemination according to interest and necessity. Like in the case of the first seminar, we were very pleased by the commitment of the environmental activists present at the event. Consequently, we decided that their networking capacities, as well as their interest in shaping the discussions towards their areas of interest and in finding solutions for the identified problems, deserve to be better covered by the Transnational Advocacy project. Therefore, due to the kind support of CEE Trust, we included two more environmental organisations, Re.generation Bucharest and Green and Wild Cluj into the next steps of the project.
Democratic engagement How can NGOs advocate at the European Parliament? Manuela Ţuglui
European Citizens’ Initiative can be applied starting with April 2011 and allows citizens to propose a legislative initiative that can provide the basis for a new directive.
The fourth seminar of the project Strengthening Romanian Civil Society’s Capacity to Advocate at European Level took place on March 10, 2012 in Cluj-Napoca and approached the topic of the relationship between the civil society and the European Parliament. The main question was how civil society could interact with the European Parliament in order to gain access to decision-making structures and law making at European level. The seminar was conducted by Lorenzo Marsili, one of the founders and co-directors European Alternatives. Lorenzo Marsili is in charge with devellopping the political positions of the organization, working in the European initiative for media pluralism and he is interested transnational bottom-up democracy. We reaffirmed the importance of art. 11 of the Treaty of Lisbon which refers to direct and indirect public participation. European Citizens’ Initiative can be applied starting with April 2011 and allows citizens to propose a legislative initiative that can provide the basis for a new directive. It is a tool of which European civil society should benefit and may even increase the ability of NGOs to work in coalition. It requires activation of a pan-European activism to cope with problems that transcend borders. NGOs can create coallitions, can seek support from larger organizations and can pool resources. Also, if a campaign message is transmitted in a clear and accessible language beyond the specialized organizations, it is possible to obtain the support of organizations that are not experts in the field, but are interested. Thus, the civil society can create powerful networks of organizations that could contribute to changing policies.
Democratic engagement How can NGOs obtain support for their cause in the Parliament, to promote their solutions and indirectly influence decisions at local or national level? There have been described several mechanisms that can be used by NGOs. Thus, by collecting statements of support from MEPs for a commission on a relevant topic, monitoring and addressing the partyes interested an NGO can get support for their cause. Other tools that organizations can use: press releases, open letters signed by MEPs, public positions of MEPs to popularize, to support that theme, a hearing in the Parliament by an MEP, regional consultations, conferences and visits of MEPs in the Member States. During the seminar, representatives of NGOs participating formed groups which then developed the advocacy campaigns seeking to influence MEPs and putting on the European agenda issues such as the environment and relocation and ghettoisation of Roma in Cluj-Napoca. Campaigns have sought concrete steps to increase access to European institutions. Participants discussed issues of European significance: natural resources over-exploited to the detriment of local communities, Roma communities that local authorities in different European countries have evicted or relocated. The workshop facilitated understanding of practical mechanisms to promote causes to the European Parliament, placing issues that seemed anchored only in national or local context in a European perspective.
Part II. Advocacy Capacities at European Level
Advocacy Capacities Rethinking democracy Laura Carlier
There was one question that kept playing through my mind during this project. We were visiting different countries, all democracies, but all so different. I couldnâ€™t help but wonder what democracy really is? Some say it is the rule of the people. But when we look at most countries that call themselves democracies, it is in fact not the people that rule, but a select group of individuals that represent the people. The people vote for parties and individuals to get them in to power, but more and more often, this means a coalition of parties comes in to power. And as soon as there is a coalition, the parties will have to let go of some of their goals in order to reach a consensus. It is no longer directly what the people want that matters, but more, how can we rule without losing the majority vote in parliament. But in the end, a government will still try to make decisions whilst trying So that is representative democracy, but does that then define democracy as a whole? I donâ€™t think so. It is just a form of democracy. So how would we define democracy? According to the Cambridge dictionary, democracy knows two core values: Freedom and Equality between people. But of course also those have their limitations. Look at equality for instance. An example that clearly shows this is the admission of Romania to the European Union. Although Romania is a full member of the EU, Romanians still have loads of disadvantages when wanting to settle in another EU country, compared to other EU members. Another problem with equality as a core value is that even though every person has a vote in democratic countries, it is the masses that are heard most. As it is usually the
Some say it is the rule of the people. But when we look at most countries that call themselves democracies, it is in fact not the people that rule, but a select group of individuals that represent the people.
People have to be equal and free. But there is a limit to our freedom, in order to protect ourselves from each other.
majority vote that decides the outcome. This leads to minorities having less chances of being heard, which in my opinion gives them an inequality. Also, when looking at for instance communism, everybody is equal, yet a communist country is hardly ever called democratic. Apparently, just being equal is not enough. And thus we threw some freedom in the mix. People have to be equal and free. But there is a limit to our freedom, in order to protect ourselves from each other. I am of course talking of the law, of the fact that we are not allowed to steel or murder one another. I would say those are good limitations. The question of what defines a democracy is a difficult one. Because although democracy canâ€™t exist without values like freedom and equality, just being free and equal still doesnâ€™t imply your also living in a democracy. And is it really the people that rule within a democracy? Can we export the concept of democracy to any country? Perhaps democracy needs to take a different form in different circumstances? And institutions like the European Union show that democracy is no longer just within one country. The EU has 27 member states so democracy within the EU has actually crossed borders and has become international. Could this be a step towards a Cosmopolitan Democracy? And would we still need the state in democracies? All these questions donâ€™t have an easy answer. Perhaps the European Union is a step towards a more global democracy, but for now we see that global issues like the environment and terrorism are also the most difficult for countries to agree upon. Which might suggest that it is the fact that states are involved, that is the problem. Should power be given to all the people in the world, another solution could be reached. Personally, I think democracy can take up different forms and grows and changes over time.
Advocacy Capacities The Common Good Livia Mirita, University of Westminster As I am coming form an inherently flawed democratic system, it is a very daunting belief that politics can bring about change. Therefore, democracy in its entirety is nothing but a myth to me. And, although I am fighting (with myself ) against the acceptance of the concept of a functioning democratic system, its realisation is still nothing but utopia. On the other hand, this project, Rethink European Democracy, did allow me to come to the realisation that I am not alone in my struggles, and that my ideal political system has more than one viable alternative, and, ironically enough, they all centre around changing the existent state of affairs. In a world riddled with globalisation where information is accessed instantly and communication is possible with minimum effort, the international market is unprecedentedly open to commerce and it has led to rampant profit seeking, thus creating a consumerist society with by-product characteristics such as corruption and ignorance towards keeping economic equality. And these characteristics are still allowed to exist unchecked and ultimately, they have influenced politics and destroyed its reputation. Thus, although it is a matter of perception, being in politics has tremendous influence on my swinging the balance towards negative and dismal thoughts on politicians and co, and to me, they need a complete shift in ideology, but this can only happen when the world allows them to. Consequently, I still need to persist in my ideal view of the world, because
Advocacy Capacities subsequently, only by joining forces with likeminded people will, in the long term, prove to be efficient in our attempt to change the world. Practically, this means that the concept of democracy, in order for it to work, it needs to be applied and respected as a whole, following every element of its definition. We the common people, and especially young people, matter most in the issue of changing the world, as only the intensity with which we act according to our belief system can work towards bending the global mentality. Therefore, the common good that the European Union and the rest of the world should concern themselves to keep and share is youth, as only they (or us) can provide the necessary energy to create an actual, visible and tangible CHANGE in European and global democracy. And although my utopia is subject to a lot of criticism, it is on the extreme side of a spectrum, and the modern world is apparently and sadly reacting only to extremes. How do you feel now when you know you possess the power to actually change the world? Better. And it is about time we exercise our influence.
Advocacy Capacities Re-Locate Europe: Think East Livia Mirita, University of Westminster In the center of Bucharest looms a giant monument of Romaniaâ€™s haunting communist past: the Palace of the Parliament built by Ceausescu. While Bucharest struggles to move from painful memories to a brighter European future, the streets of Brussels host the architects of European integration. The region of the founding members of the EU and specifically its heart Brussels, have been the historic scene of the European project. However, the several waves of enlargement have pushed the European horizon East. After over fifty years of European integration, it may be difficult to imagine the European Union institutions anywhere but in Brussels. Yet fifty years ago, it was also hard to imagine Romania blossoming into a democracy and becoming a member of the EU. The House of the People is today the venue of the Romanian Parliament and Senate.
Advocacy Capacities Still this formidable and majestic building is for the most part empty. Its vast halls and unused rooms have space to house the European dream. From this observation an idea was born. What if European institutions follow the direction of enlargement and move East? We argue that relocating a number of European institutions from Brussels to the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest would greatly benefit the EU. There are a number of arguments in favor of this shift. When Brussels became the de-facto capital of Europe, a committee of experts deemed it to be an appropriate choice for a number of reasons. The main reason was that Belgium is a small country that could not take advantage of the presence of the institutions as leverage over other states. Connectivity with other capitals, infrastructure, and its symbolic status as a crossroads between two sides of Europe were also taken into consideration. Today other cities host European institutions such as Frankfurt, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. This is an indication of some degree of decentralization, however in our opinion the institutions are still centralized in the West. Therefore we advocate relocation of some institutions to other parts of Europe and especially the new member states. Although we propose the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, this idea is applicable to many other locations in Europe. Unlike Belgium, Romania is most certainly not a small country. However, within the context of de-centralization we believe that moving a number of institutions there would not disturb the balance of power, especially if the initiative is expanded to other locations. With regards to connectivity, shifting institutions would create a wider network with Central and Eastern Europe which would benefit both regions. Bucharest also has a symbolic status as a bridge between the Latin and Slavic regions of Europe. We will now present three major benefits of our proposition as well as possible objections to them. Local benefits: Moving the institutions to Bucharest would breathe new life into the city. An influx of Europeans from all
Advocacy Capacities over the continent would transform the city into multicultural hub. Cultural exchange and living side by side would lead to consolidating European identity. It goes without saying that the economy of the city would be empowered and local institutions and services such as schools and hospitals would evolve and improve. Objection: This project may encounter rejection on both sides: EU representatives and Romanian citizens. The former may not have an immediate sense of belonging to the city and would therefore be reluctant to engage and invest in its long term development. The latter may feel overwhelmed by the influx of foreigners into their city. Language barriers will certainly be a challenge to both sides. However, we argue that although the city may not currently be equipped to absorb such an impact, it is a step towards gradual improvement and long term growth of Bucharest. Furthermore, the economic burden of such an endeavor will have to fall on the EU more so than on the Romanian national budget. Enhancing Romanian Democracy: National democracy in Romania would benefit from being in close proximity with European institutions. Although Romania has made impressive strides from its communist past, it is still a young democracy. We believe that co-habiting
the same building as citizens from â€œmatureâ€? democracies will help consolidate democratic culture in Romanian politics. This can happen by means of both formal and informal cooperation. Objection: This same proximity may somewhat undermine the particularity of Romanian democracy and replace it with European mechanisms. Furthermore, other European states are not necessarily perfect democracies whose citizens internalize democratic ideals more than their Romanian fellows. It is also questionable whether the EU fosters democratic inter-governmental cooperation or technocratic governance. Yet we argue that the newly relocated institutions will benefit from the Romanian experience as much as Romania can benefit from the EU. Improving EU integration: The double sided exchange of influence between Romania and the EU can also spread to other member states. Such an exchange will foster greater participation and better super-national cooperation. This will work towards empowering new member states and other states that were not traditionally close to the decision making center. Furthermore, citizen participation and a general sense of belonging will be enhanced in the new accessions. Objection: Yet on the other hand, one can argue that a shift in location
Advocacy Capacities does not necessarily contribute to the Europeanization of new member states. The mere logistics of relocation may prove to be an ambitious and lengthy process with no real implication on the actual process of integration and decision-making. However, we argue that this endeavor will be a fundamental change to the traditional structure of the EU both on a practical and symbolic level. Furthermore, this change is in line with the 2004 and 2007 enlargements and the growing of the European community. The symbolic value to new member states is immense; they will feel closer to the idea of Europe. Our proposition furthers the vision of a transnational Europe moving towards a decentralized federal structure. This is an important shift away from the outdated notion of the Westphalian state with power concentration. Moreover, relocation of European institutions would devolve power to a local and regional level and increase citizen participation. Relocating the agents of European integration will bring together Old and New Europe to a place of common identity yet to be built. Let us now return to the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest. What was once a symbol of a leaderâ€™s madness can be reborn into a monument of European diversity and the shared destiny of its member states. Relocating Europeâ€™s institutions can also pave the way for better integration of future accessions when the time comes.
Advocacy Capacities Rethinking citizenship beyond the nation state Teresa Pullano This interview is the first feature anticipating the Transeuropa Journal, which will be distributed during Transeuropa Festival in May. Online version of the journal will be available soon on www.transeuropafestival.eu Engin Isin is the Chair in Citizenship studies and Professor in Politics and International Relations at the Open University, in London. He also directed the Center for Citizenship, Identity and Governance. Of multiple origins, he has worked for fifteen years at York University, in Canada, before coming back to Europe. Deeply rooted in a cosmopolitan experience, the work of Isin focuses on the possibility of overcoming the often narrow horizon of the nation, in order to open up the possibility for forms of community more intense and free. The interview takes place in London, for a conference around the work of the French philosopher Ă‰tienne Balibar and the idea of a form of citizenship without (national) community. Q: The idea of a form of citizenship that goes beyond the nation seems today to be the privilege in large part of liberalism and much lesser of critical theory or movements. You understand political theory as a form of activism, therefore which is the idea of political and social emancipation that could be associated to the transpassing of national frontiers?Â My aim is to develop categories that enable us to think all men and women as political subjects, thus avoiding reducing them to national groups, identifying themselves through natural elements, such as race, gender or ethnicity, such as being black, being a woman, being homosexual. National constructions are the perverse effect of the generic character of notions such as hu-
Advocacy Capacities manity and the state. We have to rethink the idea, formulated by Hannah Arendt, of ‘the right t have rights’. For Arendt, we need to think the citizen outside of the categories of nation and humanity and within the framework of the state. The state is the supreme protector of the political subject. Arendt stresses how the state and the nation have been associated and conflated, creating numerous problems. Stateless people are therefore deprived of any kind of protection. Form here stems Arendt’s critique of human rights, which fail to provide protection to the people when and where they need it. In political life, when you are deprived of a nationality status, being just ‘human’ doesn’t help. As a consequence, even if it is great to acknowledge civil rights, you still treat a ‘negro’ as a ‘negro’. But what Arendt is unable to ask is how to treat a ‘negro’ as a political subject. Q: The idea of citizenship is very ambiguous, it can play a conservative role, justifying the status quo and class as well as social differences, but it can also act as a tool of emancipation. How can we conciliate these two aspects? The fiction at the basis of European citizenship is the one of a political subject that goes beyond any form of belonging to
Advocacy Capacities traditional, tribal and kinship relations. The autonomy of the liberal individual is the reason of the superiority of the West over the rest of the world, according to the classical interpretation by Max Weber. Liberalism, bourgeoisie and capitalism make a triangle that structures the foundation of the state, especially the nation-state. This is therefore the narrative of the dominant class, that described its dominant subject as the ideal subject of politics. Presented as going beyond any kind of affiliation, this is instead a very specific and rooted subject. At the beginning, he was male when women were not considered as political subjects. But that has changed as a result of struggles. He was a property-owner: the inclusion within the sphere of politics of the working class or of those who do not own property is also a recent achievement as a result of struggles. He was heterosexual and of bourgeois morality. He was white. Yet these grand narratives reveal instead a specific subject, affiliated to a very specific ‘tribe’. A particular group, constituted by bourgeois, white, male, heterosexual and property-owner constituted itself as dominant group. Saying that implies nevertheless incorporating the struggles for the ‘other’ forms of citizenship with respect to this dominant citizenship. This means the opening towards ecological, gender and cultural identifications. It is not possible to think citizenship without its ‘others’. The project is thus the one of delineating a ge-
nealogy of citizenship in order to redefine it. In this way, citizenship can be seen as that form of political subjectivity that allows the others, the dominated and subjugated, to make claims. This is must be the source of a new inflection on the meaning of the ‘right to have rights’ to the city and to the polity. Q: In your attempt to redefine contemporary political subjectivity, you tried to develop a new idea, the one of ‘acts of citizenship’. Is this a new way to envisage collective action and political engagement? Can you tell us what you mean with this term? The question we need to ask is: what enables new subjects to constitute themselves as subjects of politics? The notion of “acts” is one of the least theorized concepts in social theory. I started to think precisely about the notion of “acts of citizenship”. I have an activist background, thus I was asking myself: what compels people, what motivates people, what mobilizes them to say: it’s not only unjust what I am observing but it is also intolerable. That’s the foundation of an act. We can rethink the well-known act of Rosa Park. My point of view is psychoanalytical-political: while many people recognize injustices, what did mobilize Rosa Park and nobody else? It’s not enough to notice injustice, but one has to find an injustice intolerable. This is what it means to “act”. In this sense,
Advocacy Capacities an speech is not an act. Socially, theoretically, politically, there is room to theorize that: what mobilizes people to take risks? As activist, if you donâ€™t feel that you are putting something on the line, we know that it is not genuine. We need thus to distinguish between deed and opinion, between deed and word. This is not devalue the word, which would be a hypocritical act, but to give the deed some theoretically autonomous, irreducible power. What constitutes an act? This cannot be answered individually, it calls for collective work. Q: Which are the alternatives to the Western idea of citizenship? Today, the hermetically sealed political community, that is the nation state, is inadequate in the way we organize our practices around the world and it is bleeding at its edges. There are various responses to that: you can try to revive various forms of new nationalisms; or you can try to recapture it at another scale, that is the idea of cosmopolitan democracy; or, in alternative, you can try to think that this is the moment when we can think differently what it means to be a political beyond the domination of Western based, Eurocentric political theory, instead of jumping to cosmopolitan democracy, thus re-inscribing within euro-centric, Greek, Judeo-Christian tradition of thinking about the political. The space in which we are moving into is a space of experimentation. Cosmopolitan citizenship, world-citizenship closes such a space. This is the time to rethink what it means to act politically. But, is it possible to think collectively with Chinese, Indian etc colleagues and activists? Is it possible to institute practices genuinely organized across countries without opening this up to Western domination? This is the political question to ask. If we want a critical thinking, we need to take language seriously. In this sense, I ask myself if it makes sense to use the term citizenship, which belongs to Western political grammar, to talk about political subjectivity. At the same time, it is impossible to find another word without engaging seriously with the issue of citizenship.
Advocacy Capacities Europe and those are the one who conQ: In a context of transformation of stitute a sort of collective that dominates national frontiers and of repositioning of Europe, that is the EU. The dilemma of the Western countries in international rela- left: how do we organize rights in a time of tions, especially with respect to emerg- neoliberal domination? We can talk about ing powers, how do you interpret the rights at the European scale, in general crisis that Europe is now going through? terms, but in the end we need to deal with Today, Europe is a particular site of the way in which member states organize struggle. We need to think about Europe concretely rights and interests in Europe. as a site of struggle. As a site of struggle, Europe though is not the EU. EU is one it is open and various claims are being actor among others. the EU does not exmade. We need to understand what par- haust the European project, even if we do ticular forces are making claims and trying not have to underestimate its significance. to take control of that Europe which is the Especially on the left, we do not have to site of struggle. We can distinguish external think that the EU project exhausts the Euforces and internal ones. We cannot think ropean project. There is not only one way about Europe as a site of struggle withoutÂ of enacting European politics. asking what is to be non-European, what Q: Todaysâ€™ Europe seems to be very far is the European other? Europe itself is not hermetically sealed, as a site is not geo- away from being a sort of world avantgraphically stable and already constituted. garde for cosmopolitanism. Europe is not It bleeds into Asia, Turkey, it flows into Af- only becoming more and more isolated rica or North-America. It is an amorphous and provincialized, but nationalisms and form, whose extensions goes beyond populisms are being revived everywhere what it is geographically We have to think within it. How can we envisage a differabout Europe not as a geographical entity, ent perspective on Europeâ€™s future? The financial crisis is coming at a time but as a site, not limited in itself. What is at stake with that? The reorganization of when already in constituted states of Eudifferent forms of capitalism. We do not rope neoliberalism has been flaming the have to refer to capitalism with a capital C, fires of nationalism in various ways. One but capitalism is multiple, fractured, with of the contradictions of neoliberalism is tensions and contradictions. From within that, by producing self-sufficient subjects, Europe, one way to approach it is the so- opening markets, autarchic economic and called member states. Those are the ones political entities, it has generated numbers organizing interests and making claims on of insecurities. One of the consequences is
Advocacy Capacities new forms of nationalism, providing a narrative of neo-security. Neo-securitarian agenda thus goes together with the neoliberal one. In Greece, neoliberalism has been imposed with a vengeance. Greece is an intensified site of struggle, but we should not see what is happening as limited to Greece. The crisis is going to choose other points of intensification, such as Spain, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Italy etc. What is at stake is what does it mean to redefine the EU citizen as a bearer of European rights. This is significant for us to articulate. The more it is articulated as a financial crisis, the more we need to articulate it as a political crisis. We need to ask questions: euro, as a zone of finance, we need to think as: as citizens of Europe, what does eurozone own to its Greek citizens? That is not how that question is posed to bureaucrats and politicians dealing with the eurozone and how to stabilize it. How does European citizen manage to disappear? Beyond and outside parties, what mechanisms and devices can articulate that question? What subject of history can we imagine at the moment who will enable us to ask that question not as a financial one but as a political question?
Advocacy Capacities A significant step towards 21st century democracy in Europe: support transnational lists! Niccolo Milanese On March 14th the European Parliament will vote on a proposal to allow transnational lists in the European elections. At present the European citizens can only vote on national lists: EU citizens vote for candidates in the countries that they are resident in. The proposal calls for EU citizens to have a second vote: for a transnational list of 25 MEPs elected across the Union. The transnational lists would be composed of candidates from at least one third of member states, to ensure that the list is genuinely transnational. It is increasingly clear to many people in Europe that the crucial decisions about our future are being taken at a European level, and at the same time the European level of decision-making seems to many ever more remote, unresponsive and unconcerned with the views and welfare of citizens of Europe. The moment is opportune, as well as urgent, therefore, to make a decisive change in the way in which we are represented at a European level. For the moment, national political parties have total dominion over the electoral process for the European elections: they select the candidates, they run the campaigns, and they finance the campaigns. It is unsurprising that the campaigns for the European elections thereby remain highly national affairs, and the candidates selected are selected largely on national issues. The ongoing debt-crisis in the EU has shown more than ever the inextricable interrelations between the countries of
Advocacy Capacities Europe, and that resolving our common problems relies on seeing our common interests. Institutions build on national constituencies are proving largely incapable of giving citizens a say over these common interests, as they remain beholden to short-term national interests. As such the national institutions and national political parties are currently disenfranchising EU citizens. The election of transnational representatives would be an important step forwards in building democratic institutions which allow citizens to express their will at this common transnational level, to give to the citizens of Europe the democratic choice over their common future. The resolution of the debt-crisis may be the most visible of the European political problems needing greater democratisation at the moment, but in reality there is almost no domain of political decision-making in Europe which does not have some transnational dimension: whether in economy, environmental policy, cross-border transport, communications, migration, welfare and the social model. At the moment decision making in these areas remains largely a process of consensus building amongst different national interests, whilst there is a much greater common interest of European citizens which is unrepresented in the process. The parliament has the right to take initiative in reforming European elections, but it does not have the last say. If it adopts the resolution next week, it will need to call a European Convention to redraft the European treaties to make transnational lists possible. That would also be an occasion to call for further
Advocacy Capacities measures to democratise decision making in the EU. It is by no means sure that the enough MEPs will support the resolution next week, under pressure from their national parties to keep EU-politics under their control. For that reason citizens from throughout the Union need to pressure their MEPs directly to promote the development of a more democratic system.
The resolution of the debt-crisis may be the most visible of the European political problems needing greater democratisation at the moment, but in reality there is almost no domain of political decisionmaking in Europe which does not have some transnational dimension.
Advocacy Capacities European checkmate: democracy at gunpoint European Alternatives Position “There is no alternative” is an imposture commonly used to cover with a mantle of inevitability clearly partisan economic decisions. Rarely has this false refrain sounded so convincing to so many people as when the governments of Italy and Greece have been given the alternative: obedience or bankruptcy. This blackmail is the result of political decisions not to take an alternative course and to obey the ‘logic’ of the market. But alternatives have always existed, they just haven’t been articulated loudly and clearly enough. Regardless of the specific opinions on Monti and Papademos and their respective governments, we cannot but remain highly preoccupied by the reduction of political and democratic life in Europe to a contest with only one possible winner. Whether Monti is a valid response or not to Italy’s crisis, the terms of the appointment are an extremely dangerous precedent: at the gunpoint of financial markets and their threat to strongarm Italy into a default. A group of elites, whether they are the leaders of France or Gemany, the ‘Frankfurt’ group, or the business and bank leaders who profit from the current system, have managed to steal power from the citizens of Europe by a deft employment of the economic crisis to hijack the European institutions and the process of European integration, which now appears more than ever to citizens and politicians in debtor countries like a strait-jacket in which no one can take decisions against an inexorable economic logic. The pretence of national sovereignty has been broken. European nation-states, in their blind attempts to block moves
towards a federal union in the interest of retaining what little remains of their sovereignty, have ended up with consigning this very sovereignty to financial markets and unaccountable elites. This is obvious in the case of “peripheral” countries, but sounds no less true in the case of “core” countries, and especially France, able to independently decide to follow the same recipes of austerity forced on Southern countries, but unable to implement any alternative model against the threat of loss of “triple a” status and ensuing financial chaos. Sovereignty holds for core countries only in so far as it is employed to respond “I am what you want me to be”. But there is no sovereignty without the possibility of being otherwise. Closing the space for alternatives Equally worrying is the overt attempt at closing the space for an alternative that had been maturing over the last year through the Arab spring, the pan-European protests of the indignados, the Occupy movement, and the success of a discourse condemning inequality and the rule of the 1%. It is perhaps only a coincidence that the occupation of Zuccotti Park has been stopped by the New York police the same day that Monti has been nominated prime minister in Italy. But it is a telling coincidence, and one that uncovers the desire to physically close any space for a critique of the existing economic and financial model and the responses offered so far to the crisis.
But it is a telling coincidence, and one that uncovers the desire to physically close any space for a critique of the existing economic and financial model and the responses offered so far to the crisis.
There is a double danger in such situation. On the one hand,
Advocacy Capacities the message sent to public opinion is that there really is no alternative to austerity and to further dismantling of the European social model to repay the ills of the financial sector. The good of the banks becomes equivalent with the good of the people, and any policy diverging from the recommendations of the European Central Bank or the IMF is portrayed as impossible and immature. On the other hand, with the near totality of political parties in Italy and Greece supporting the new technocratic governments, the large sectors of the population resisting such equivalence and remaining convinced that alternative policies exist and are viable are left bereft of political representation. A wedge is being driven between Parliaments and large sectors of public opinion. “They don’t represents us”, one of the slogans of the indignados, now risks becoming a reality for a majority of the population, with profound risks for the future functioning of national democracies. The struggle for European democracy The central importance of the European dimension in deciding of our future should now have become apparent to all. But there is no opportunity to regain the freedom to choose the course of our societies and to open spaces for
alternative politics to emerge if we are not able to demand and obtain a radical democratisation of the European space, against all tendencies to delegate power to elites or market consensus. The fight for democracy must be therefore at the European level: European politics must become political and democratic, where that means that different political parties and social movements must offer clearly different political programs and have the power to implement them. That means democratic control over the European economy. A greater harmonisation of decisionmaking over European economies is unavoidable. De facto these decisions are already being made. What is required are formal institutions which make the decisions, rather than informal clubs, and democratic procedures for the citizens of Europe to take these decisions themselves. The European institutions and European integration should be precisely what give people the power to make decisions. There must be a long term vision: either it is a vision of obedience and austerity for the many, or it is an empowering vision of European citizens retaking control over the economy and their common future. European Alternatives chooses the second of these visions, and a choice we suspect many of our fellow citizens would also prefer.
Advocacy Capacities Eurocrisis calls for a new politics fit for the age For the past two years, the national leaders of European member states have been meeting more and more frequently to buy themselves ever more time to deal decisively with the economic crisis engulfing the Eurozone and the wider European economy. From quarterly meetings to monthly meetings, to weekly conference calls … now the amount of time ‘bought’ by a meeting of heads of European states is no longer than 3 days, including a weekend. There is no clearer indication of the risk of impending failure of a political system. Democracy is, amongst other things, the best way of ensuring accountability and transparency. There must be more democratic control over the shape of the economy, and the end of the neoliberal dogma that the economy must be left independent of all political control or regulation. At the same time, the democratic control over the European economy must be genuinely European: it is no longer politically or socially sustainable for nationally elected decision-makers or national publics to make decisions that have enormous impacts for others in the European Union. European economic governance must be directly European for European citizens, and no longer fragmented through national institutions which create an institutional smoke screen that prevents effective deliberation on the European common good. The only alternative to increasing democratic control over the economy, in an economy like Europe’s, is to impose an institutional straitjacket restricting national political choices, and most likely favour the rich ‘creditor’ Eurozone economies over the weak ‘debtor’ countries. The reinforcement of what in principle was an inflexible straitjacket like the Stability and Growth
Advocacy Capacities Pact not only represents a misguided approach to learning from a crisis (where flexibility is exactly what is required), but will feel like a dictatorship to citizens, and there will be no guarantee for how long it will be tolerated. A citizens’ agora for a new social pact To achieve the necessary paradigm shift in European democracy, the process of treaty change will have to be considerably different from the experience of the Nice and Lisbon treaties. No longer can the European elites design a new treaty on their own and expect the public to go along with it. We have already seen the results of that approach, in much more ‘favourable’ conditions. The process must involve citizens from the outset, not only to have political legitimacy, but in order to constitute a European citizenry which conceives itself the same political community, with citizen who are willing to act to support one another and take decisions together, and have common political institutions to allow them to do so whilst guaranteeing their fundamental and social rights. For that, the best start would be to start a large scale and genuinely transeuropean public deliberation involving NGOs and citizens themselves as well as politicians and functionaries from throughout Europe to decide on a new social pact for an economy of solidarity. This transeuropean deliberation could be called an ‘agora’, with a final stage in the European parliament. The process of treaty change will throw up difficult questions, not least of the status of those countries reticent to engage in more European integration, such as the United Kingdom which has a ‘referendum lock’ on new European treaties. There is already a multi-speed Europe in many areas of integration: the UK and Poland have opt-outs of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; the Schengen area covers 25 EU and non-EU members etc. Further treaty change should allow the extension of this logic of enhanced cooperation in economic
Advocacy Capacities governance and its democratic control. Although we believe that the strong interest of the peoples of all EU countries is to be as fully integrated as possible, in order both to overcome the reticence of some holding back others, and to clarify the situation for everybody, these questions must be treated and decided. Indecision is having both a very tangible financial cost, and a much more serious democratic cost, where disengagement with all political institutions and mistrust is growing and deepening. Other difficult decisions will be on exactly how the European Parliament, or a system of European parliaments, exercises its democratic control on the European economy, and exactly the mandate and democratic scrutiny of the European Central Bank. These questions must be decided, and these institutions will only have a genuinely democratic character if the decisions are taken as a result of a wide public debate.
Indecision is having both a very tangible financial cost, and a much more serious democratic cost, where disengagement with all political institutions and mistrust is growing and deepening.
Advocacy Capacities Between Translation and Action New forms of political mobilisation Niccolo Milanese The various protests, occupations and viral internet campaigns that have seized the imagination of the media and many citizens since the Arab uprisings in 2010-2011 challenge the current system of power by articulating alternative political manifestos and practising (re)newed forms of politics. â€œOccupy!â€? is understood as a political protest against certain specific policies as well as a new way of being political, of doing politics that does not fit with the current political institutions. The consequence is that political mobilisation can now take the more traditional forms of holding placards, addressing politicians and decision-makers through protest, lobbying or raising awareness, but also organising a political alternative on the ground through alternative currencies, public agoras, protest picnics, flash-mobs, public-space university courses etc. The awakening of a new form of political consciousness faces many challenges, but there are two crucial ways that many of these challenges can be understood: as a problem of translation, and as a problem of action. One of the strengths of the new wave of political mobilisation is its transnational nature: new networks of communication, solidarity and understanding are being built across large parts of the world, from Tokyo to Beijing, Russia to Europe and the Northern Mediterranean to North America. The increased speed of communication between continents has contributed massively to the possibility of these transnational waves of protest. Nonetheless, the problem of translation between all these contexts is consistently underestimated. It is obvious to say that there are significant and massive po-
litical differences between Egypt under Mubarak and euro-crisis Greece; between Wall Street and Frankfurt. It is also apparent to many people that there are significant similarities – but these similarities have to be brought out through translation. The general slogans “Real Democracy“ or ”We are the 99%”, which lend themselves to twitter as well as other mass media, hold together a global coalition through their generality, but the concrete political situations behind them are often quite different. For the coalition to be effective in each political context without fracturing, a translation must take place which relates the specific to the general. The transnational coalition, to maintain its unity over the duration of time as well as its effectiveness, has to foster a shared awareness of different contexts and how they relate to the general sentiments. Europe has an almost unique role to play in this scenario: it is both a crucible of shared information and a kind of giant translation machine. Cultures and peoples from every part of the world are present in Europe, meaning it is a place for sharing political knowledge and information on the political situations throughout the world. At the same time, and perhaps unlike the United States of America which has a similar and older claim of being the ‘melting pot’ of the world, translation and diversity is built into the European self-understanding. It is therefore in a position to play the role of a universalising force which maintains diversity and pertinence to different political contexts. The second challenge is the other side of the translation challenge: it is the challenge of being politically effective in different political contexts, the challenge of taking action. Whereas translation is required to hold together the unity of a transnational
Europe has an almost unique role to play in this scenario: it is both a crucible of shared information and a kind of giant translation machine.
Advocacy Capacities One of the strengths of the movement is to do politics in a new way and to build outside the institutions, but this risks impotency if there is no strategy for engaging with existing political institutions which still hold power.
coalition, for that coalition to serve its purpose, it needs to have a genuine effect. There have been substantial victories over the past year for those people who associate themselves with a move towards democracy and equality, whether it being the overcoming of dictatorships in the Southern Mediterranean or the mainstreaming of a discussion of a financial transaction tax which used to be on the fringes of political debate. But there have also been many occasions where change has not been brought about. The Real Democracy movement in Spain, for example, was unable to change the direction of politics in that country. One of the strengths of the movement is to do politics in a new way and to build outside the institutions, but this risks impotency if there is no strategy for engaging with existing political institutions which still hold power. The movement needs to be clever enough to change formal political institutions at the same time as it limits their importance. The new democratic movement ignores frontiers where traditional politics is forced to stop and negotiate, but the new democratic movement has yet to use its full strength to not allow traditional politics to hide in the echelons of the structures it has built to protect itself. The challenge is particularly complex in Europe where political sovereignty is shared between a variety of actors and institutions: changing the politics of one country will not be enough to change the politics of Europe as a whole. This very feature of the European situation mirrors the actionchallenge of the democracy movement as a whole, which needs to be simultaneously specific and general in a globalised world where no political actor has total dominion over its territory, and only by doing both will achieve lasting and substantial change at any level. In this respect as well, Europe is the laboratory of a new politics beyond the nation state, which is simultaneously transnational and local.
Advocacy Capacities “Living in a Golden Cage” Italy and the migrants from Libya Mariarosa Amato Social and political transformations demanding new and deeper forms of participation, occurred during the so-called “Arab Spring” had, of course, a strong impact on migration flows towards Europe. Despite the evident necessity of a comprehensive and clear response to the needs of individuals forced to live their countries to save their life and avoid violence, the states of the Union did not adopted a common strategy, managing the issue on individual basis, as a domestic affair. Around 21.000 people escaped from the Libya crisis burst in February 2011, are currently living in Italy; all of them are asylum seekers. They were in Libya when the conflict started but they come from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, Bangladesh, Mali, Ghana. The government decided to assign the Italian “Protezione Civile” - Civilian Protection (a public entity in charge of facing the aftermath of natural disasters), the duty to find a proper accommodation to these asylum seekers. Consequently, thousands of people are spread throughout the territory, hosted in reception centers, living with the hope to obtain the refugee status and eventually start a new life without depending on someone else sustainment. It is important to stress statistics on this matter: only the ten percent of the international protection applications submitted in Italy end in the recognition of the refugee status; another
Advocacy Capacities twenty percent is given another form of protection (namely “subsidiary protection” and humanitarian protection), that provides shorter permit of stay. This means that the majority of these people, around the 70%, that have been staying in Italy for more than a year now, will get a refusal. “The examination process of our request for international protection is taking an unreasonable huge amount of time. We cannot live, work and move as any free individual wishes to do; also we spend our days with the constant fear of the rejection of our application. Many of us might not come from countries at war, but this does not mean we can go back to our place of origin, since we were staying in Libya for many years and we do not have any relatives or friends in our born country. They should consider this in deciding about our future”, says Ibrahim from Somalia. On these basis, a strong civil society initiative arose in order to push the government to grant to all these people escaped from the conflict in Libya, at least one year permit of stay “for humanitarian reasons”, regardless of the result of their application to get the refugee status. The campaign, called “Diritto di Scelta”, right of choice, has recently obtained the support of some institutional entities, like the region Emilia Romagna. It is time to provide a coherent and human answer to the claims of dignity of individuals whose only desire is to live their life in dignity.
Advocacy Capacities Women, work and family Silvana Summa This paper provides a general description of the womenâ€™s working conditions in Italy, it is focused primarily on female labour-force partecipation connected to policies and programs for womenâ€™s welfare. Attention is also drawn on gender discrimination in the workplace and finally on conflicts between work and family. The participation of women in paid work is increased respect to the past, working is now a normal aspect of womenâ€™s life but a lot of changes must still be made to improve their working conditions, both from the point of view of equal opportunities between women and men, and from the point of view of new social politics of the welfare state, that can help a woman when she is divided between work and family.The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women (Pechino 1995) represents a turning point in the debate against formal and informal discrimination in female employment. It has confirmed the right of women to have equal opportunities. Equality and equal opportunities are not synonymous: the first concept means that there is no discrimination in the workplace between men and women; while the second, equal opportunities, means to have the
same opportunities to access, permanence and career for men and women. In the last thirty years considerable progress has been made but disparity is still present. What is explicate in the conference is the confirmation of a gender culture, in order to revaluate female professionalism and to develop new policies of reorganization of working hours and society structure.The resolutions of the conference on women could be valid also for the italian context, in which female labour partecipation is marked by a few contradictions. In Italy, in fact, women are on the average more educated than their male colleagues; they study more and with higher school results. However this is not in corrispondence in terms of employment. Only in the first year of a professional career the level of employment, between young men and women, is the same as for time and remuneration. Around twentyfive years of age the gap starts to rise. Women are only present in few sectors, the majority of them in middle or inferior professional levels, and they receive, at a parity of working hours and skills, lower remunerations.The number of persons unemployed is higher among women and women are also more present in
Advocacy Capacities atypical kind of jobs. In addition to professional and economical reasons, there is also the maternity issue. From a social point of view the leading role of a man is to be a worker and for him this means his duty. This is not the same for a woman; she can be a worker but she is not in social disfavor if she is only a housewife or a mother or not interested in finding a job. The opinion that her having a job is just additional in a family, is still present, like another cultural belief, that mothers with little children should leave their work temporarily in order to take care of them in the first years of their life. A research of 2002 shows that 20% of women after a child birth stop to work because of a weak tutelage in the workplace or for a lack of childhood services, but also because of their own choice. Except for those women employed in the public sector ,who benefit from the law for maternity reasons, the remaining has a minimal or inexistent welfare tutelage. Our country has a birth rate amongst the lowest of the world, has non sufficient childhood services and those available are very expensive.In primary school a full time system is present only in some regions. The unemployment rate in the south of Italy is higher and childhood services are lower. Politics need to help women to remain on the job market and to return soon after maternity leave. There is also a need of interventions to improve the offer of welfare services and the work hours structure. Remaining on the job market having children, is really difficult. That is why differently from past generations, in the eighties many women decided not to have children in order to continue working and have a career. From this final part we can note that a woman has to decide to have a working career or to have a family and if she wants both, she has to find a â€œstrategy to surviveâ€? because the organization, the responsability and the duties in a family is not equaly divided and that is why the models of working partecipation are different between women and men. In view of the above,this gap takes origin from several different factors: material,economical, social and cultural. In Italy there is a prevalence to traditional and familist culture, present
Advocacy Capacities also in law and politics, which reduces housework to a woman’s responsability. Fathers don’t easily take paternity leave, even in workplaces where this is possible, confirming the idea that the education of children is a woman’s responsability. The expectation of being both a good employee and a good mother-housewife makes women feel insecure, guilty and also afraid to fail and that often affects the quality of their performance at work and their duties as a mother. Often the society regards a woman a heartless mother in search of a career, or a traditional non ambitious housewife . But why should women make a choice between these two visions? Why should they feel torn and divided and be forced to find jobs with minor responsabilities or parttime in order to take care of their family? If the combination of a job and a family is so hard, extra time for themselves will be hard to find.In the international scenary men and women spend, more or less, the same time in paid and not paid work. Italy represents an exception because women work more than men, italian women spend more time than other women in other countries in domestic works. In 2009, 77% of the family duties was on female shoulders, in 1988 it was 85%. Even if fathers are a little bit more collaborative
respect to the past, changes come slowly and the division of roles is still strong.In the last few years, in our country, the family is an important issue in juridical and moral debates, but less important in politics in terms of support to the family . Some targets, like female labour and division of house work in the family, can be reached.These targets are contained in the European Union’s recommendations: more kindergartens for children from zero to three years, incentives for the care of children, and fiscal incentives for female labour. All these actions have a financial cost but can produce good results in women’s employment, in productivity of the country economy , in the division of family work, in family consumption and in the emersion of illegal employment. If the female employment rate will grow there will be more jobs in the service sector, and more security and comfort for the families. In addition, families with two incomes will spend more in consumption, will save and invest their income. All these factors will protect women and children from family instability and from economy crisis. The public policy should satisfy individuals but also collective Leeds. Intervening now will cost less than intervening in the future.
Advocacy Capacities About corruption Mariana Tintarean “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a Government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.” (Kofi A. Annan) Corruption is a serious problem that threatens the stability and security of societies, undermines the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizes sustainable development and the rule of law. Corruption is no longer a local matter but a transnational phenomenon that affects all societies and economies, making international cooperation to prevent and control it essential and a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach is required to prevent and combat corruption effectively. Corruption is a frequently used concept in the last years not only in Romania but in the whole world, the effective fight against this phenomenon being considered a precondition of existence for the state of law and an indicator of good governance.Integrity in the public sector, corruption and fight against
it are terms that combine a series of behaviours, entered the vocabulary of politicians, NGO representatives, media and public in general whose sensitivity to this phenomenon has increased. Corruption has a domino effect because the more it is carried out the more it will multiply thus generating a vicious circle effect in the way that more corruption brings out even more corruption thereby making any attempt of counteracting it a laborious one. Because of this, major efforts are required from the whole society and pre-emptive actions should be carried out over curative ones. If in terms of education and prevention of corruption Civil Society and the Mass Media have an important role to play, when it comes to fighting and punishing acts of corruption, it is the duty of citizens such as you to support the competent authorities by: Active involvement in the process of uncovering acts of corruption facilitating this way the investigation and trial of offenders; Promptly communicating to the prosecuting authorities any kind of clues regarding acts of corruption; To notify the competent authorities that conduct criminal prosecutions in case of corruption acts by filing criminal complaints or denunciations, this way
guilty persons will receive sanctions provided by law; The Law is on your side. Any information regarding acts of corruption are and will remain public; they cannot be covered under the “umbrella” of professional secrecy; Moreover, if you are a witness, in case you or your family are threatened, your identity can be protected by the criminal prosecution bodies; Things cannot improve until you, the citizens, don’t get actively involved in the constant and aggressive pursuit of your citizen rights as an answer to abuses you constantly suffer when going to different institutions. Only an attitude like that can pave the road to reducing corruption and can contribute to the well being of public services. Combating corruption should be approached globally because corruption is found everywhere, both in rich and poor countries, and is explicit that it hits poor people beyond repair. It contributes to poverty, instability, and is a deciding factor in dragging weak countries towards infrastructure and state failure. Governments, the private industries, NGOs, the media and citizens across the world should join hands to combat this crime.
Conclusions An advocacy campaign should be mindful of the following basic principles: Method: The advocacy process is neutral from the political point of view, it is open for anyone to use. Message: Defining a proper message for a certain audience is the main instrument in the advocacy campaign. Information: Information represents power; its sources must be credible. Cooperation: The advocacy activity is a cooperative process; comprising groups and individuals have distinct and precise responsibilities. Decision-making: Though political systems are diff erent in each country, they all have in common the elements pertaining to human nature in the decisionmaking process â€“ the decision-makers, time, and information. Involvement: To take part in the decision-making process, a group must be constantly present. Even if a campaign is not successful in every legislative battle, policymakers and other political factors will be more aware of how their decisions affect their constituencies.
Suggestions Art and science: The advocacy process is both art (imagination, creativity) and science (communications, ability, and practice). Success: Even the most elaborate strategy can fail; both success and failure should be anticipated. Synchronization: Activities should be organized to make the best use of time and space; the message must be coherent and remain under the campaign’s control, even if many diff erent groups want to be involved in the process. Participation: Advocacy is one way to practice democracy. It is a way for civil society as a whole and for interest groups specifi cally to participate in democracy. Additionally, advocacy demonstrates that: • The democratic process has the power to change fundamentally the relations between policymakers and civil society represented by structured interest groups. • The interests of all groups that comprise civil society are not the same. Effective advocacy identifies and elaborates a connection between diff erent groups to create a coalition in support of solutions that benefit a majority of constituents. • To unify these groups into a structured coalition, organizations must use a professional, proactive approach.
Cluj-Napoca, 2012 ÂŠ European Alternatives
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Printed in Cluj-Napoca, 2012 ÂŠ European Alternatives
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Publication resulted from the projects RE: Think European Democracy! and Strengthening Romanian Civil Society's Capacity to Advocate at Euro...
Published on Jun 17, 2012
Publication resulted from the projects RE: Think European Democracy! and Strengthening Romanian Civil Society's Capacity to Advocate at Euro...