Tue Dec 10th, 2013 at 09:46:47 AM EST
It took some querying, but I've now received the definite programme of the Closing Conference of the European Year of Citizens 2013, which will start coming Thursday in Vilnius, Lithuania, which I'll attend. The draft programme was already available, the definite programme is here (pdf) and can also be explored at the EYCA website.
In comparison to the draft programme, some additions were made to the speakers and some changes who chairs the sessions. Also prime minster Algirdas Butkevičius has been added. As described in the first diary, there are several panel sessions to attend. A central event for the conference will be the handing over of the policy recommendations which "contribute to making Union citizenship at the heart of the political agenda".
For those interested, the conference will be live streamed through the internet, probably at this website.
Below the fold some further info and some brief thoughts about my ambassadorship for ET during the event.
The conference is organized by the European Commission, in close cooperation with EYCA: European Year of Citizens Alliance (Facebook, Twitter). By itself, EYCA is also a creation by the European Commission:
eurolocal-cas » Blog Archive » European Citizenship is more than rights! (EYCA: European Year of Citizens 2013 Alliance).
On 11 August 2011, the European Commission proposed to designate 2013 as the "European Year of Citizens" to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the European Union Citizenship under the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. European civil society organisations and networks members of the EESC Liaison Group have created a civil society Alliance aiming to advocate on MEPs for a broader understanding of European citizenship within the proposal to designate 2013 the European year of Citizens. The Alliance benfits from the support of the European Economic and Social Committee and is aiming, in the long run, to mobilise and coordinate wide civil society engagement in the activities which will be scheduled during the European Year of Citizens 2013, to initiate a European-wide debate on issues relating to the exercise of European citizens rights and to citizens' participation in the democratic life of the EU.
It should thus be less surprising, then, that EC Vice-President Viviane Reding, also Commissioner of Citizenship is part of the programme and will receive the EYCA policy recommendations.
Chairman of the EYCA is Jean-Marc Roirant (French wiki) who also heads the European Civic Forum, an organization responsible for these kind of programs:
Popular support for the European project has dramatically decreased over the last years, whereas European issues are increasingly piercing the public sphere and discourses all over Europe. This paradox of political disenchantment requires more work than ever on democratic values and standards which underpin the European building process.
Should this be priority of the EU? Are teachers, educators and civil society organisations equipped to "teach European citizenship" and build active, informed and responsible citizenry in the context of rapidly changing social, political and economic environments? What is the role of non-formal education providers and EU organisations? Should we have a common module on EU citizenship in our schools?
The niggling concern I have with this kind of language (and this sort of project) is that it so obviously puts the horse behind the cart. It's the responsibility of EU organisations to engage citizens by dint of setting political frameworks for a social and economic environment positively effecting EU citizens. Dispelling political disenchantment via educational programs, while the same EU currently bears responsibility for social and economic harm, that seems a sure way to generate further mockery - at minimum.
I suspect and fear that the conference will bring a variety of examples in the same vein.
During the conference, besides impromptu networking, I'll focus on working through the policy proposals of the EYCA. Further, I'll aim for a better understanding of the existing structures to interface with the EU. Where possible and at relevant venues, I'll attempt to put in some critical questions - the demise of Presseurop comes to mind, or the European Citizens' Initiative, etc.
I also incorporate askod's input:
A swedish kind of death:
more genuine[e] questions about how the systems as presented should be understood in light of the ongoing constitutional crisis. Even if their standard model appears to be limited to a run of the mill liberal democracy, they might have interesting thoughts outside of the prepared presentation.
I'm not, or was ever, keen for an activist stance with posing outright rebellious questions to Reding or others on the EU's current economic policies for example. Personally, I feel more comfortable with my role as an inquisitive but critical journalist.
Finally, while attending the conference, I'm well aware that I'll also be presenting European Tribune. In introductions, I'll present ET as a left-orientated forum for the sharing of information and discussion on European and international news, with a large focus on political, economic and environmental topics. I'll mention we have input from across the world, and while discussion is mostly in English, any language and nationality is welcome. Where I can, I will mention Jerome as a core founder, his focus on financing offshore wind and his directorship at Green Giraffe. If I left out something essential, let's hear it in the comments.
The conference seems well organized and includes all modern advances of the blog age - wifi should be freely available during the conference and in the rather luxuriously looking accommodation that was provided. It looks like I'll be able to pop in during the days to provide a number of updates.