In view of the attention that Fridays for Future received over the past year, the panel discussion ‘The End of the EU as We Know It? Street Protests and European Politics‘ on September 12th 2019 was a timely event for discussing the impact and role of civic activism, particularly concerning European topics. The speakers were Alexandru Damian from the Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE), Dr. Jochen Roose from Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Katja Sinko from the pro-European Campaign “The European Moment”. IEP director Dr. Katrin Böttger moderated the event, with over 50 guests, which was organized at Humboldt University of Berlin.
After years of experience with the organisation of demonstrations, one of the key invited speakers, Katja Sinko (the European Moment campaign), argued at the #BringEU discussion: ‘Frustration is a precondition for protest’. Alexandru Damian (CRPE) underlined that civic activism has different traditions in Eastern and Western Europe. With regard to demonstrations against corruption and power abuse in Romania, activists had been left expecting much more support at EU level. Jochen Roose (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung) added a long-term view – civic movements can indeed be considered actors of change in Europe, having contributed with fresh perspectives to political debates over a long time. Under certain conditions, they can even change societies.
A strong point of consent of the panel speakers concerned the relevance of further European activism. Even if social movements tend to lose their power over time, they are able to support individuals as well as political leaders. The discussion also underlined the fact that movements such as Fridays for Future have a huge potential for the mobilization of especially young Europeans.
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.