A New Narrative for the Future of Europe – Can Civic Engagement Shape the Outcome of the European Elections? (April 12th 2019, Bucharest)

The 2019 elections for the European Parliament had a lot at stake in safeguarding the stability and proper functioning of our Union. The gap between the democratic institutions in Europe, their representatives and Europe’s young generation has been growing. The rise of populism and far-right movements across the continent have yet to receive consistent answers from EU leaders.

In search for a new vision and future objectives in the EU-27 formula, we wanted to understand what drives the young generation of Europe to be more engaged in protests, active citizenship or civic movements than in more traditional forms of political participation. A higher voter turnout generally requires a proper understanding of the values these civic movements stand for (pro rule of law movement, anti far-right, defending academic freedom or the more recent pro climate protests).

In recent years, EU citizens have started to use more frequently their voice under the form of democratic gatherings or protests, in order to hold the decision-makers responsible and make themselves heard by national and European authorities. The messages of these new forms of democratic participation must be further used as an opportunity to re-shape and influence the future of Europe, respond to populism and Euroscepticism and ensure a forward move of the European project.

We debated in the 2019 edition of the Eurosfat forum whether and how civic actions, street protests or civil society initiatives could influence the European elections of May 26th, 2019. We looked for ideas to understand how civic movements which have recently occurred in Romania, Poland, Hungary or Slovakia can re-engage in the European elections or how they can contribute to bringing together citizens and policy-makers, so as to influence the future of the European Union in a positive way.

The debate brought together activists and representatives of civic movements from Central and Eastern Europe, politicians, journalists, representatives of NGOs and academia, students (about 100 participants). In this context, we enjoyed the presence of Dragos Pislaru (2020 Alliance USR PLUS, Romania), Victor Negrescu (Social Democratic Party, Romania), Berg Dániel (Momentum Party, Hungary), Milosz Hodun (Counselor of Nowoczesna Party, Poland), Kit Gillett (Journalist), Catalin Tenita (Geeks for Democracy, Romania), Tudor Bradatan (Declic community, Romania), Elena Ghioc (Initiativa Romania), Mihai Tudorica (Association for Community Relations, Romania).

Some insights of the debate: Why young generations are more reluctant in taking part in traditional forms of political participation but instead they are ready to join demonstrations? What are their main expectations from the future European Parliament? Are the new civic movements the actors of change in Europe? How citizens can better organize themselves in order to enhance their participation in politics and in the decision-making process? Can a civic movement influence political movements while maintaining its “civic” core?

Please access the forum’s official website (2019.eurosfat.ro) for more information on the event.

For more information on future events, please follow regularly the organizers’ websites.

The conference was organized in the framework of the project: ‘A new narrative for Europe: Bringing more union into the European Union’, funded by the European Commission, Europe for Citizens Programme, Strand2: Democratic engagement and civic participation.