“European Citizenship in Challenging Times” – strengthening community media as a solution

IMG_9855[1]Gabriella Velics, vice-president of CMFE, reports from Barcelona (31 May – 1 June 2016):
“European Citizenship in Challenging Times” was a two days conference organised by the European Commission, in partnership with EUROM, Solidarity Foundation, the University of Barcelona, under the “Europe for Citizens” programme 2014-2020.
The first day was dedicated to panel sessions and discussions on three topics:

membership, protection, participation. Grazyna Plebanek – philologist and writer from Brussels – reasoned the necessity of strong civil society as it strengthens people’s local bond. Also Friso Roscam-Abbing – Head of Fundamental Rights Promotion Department, Fundamental Rights Agency – underlined the need of human rights and civil rights education all over Europe as “freedom of speech and freedom of listen both are important and must be learned”. Assya Kavrakova – European Citizen Action Service – specified this kind of civil energy as “the oxygen of our ecosystem”. The need of strong local communities and local communication with civic participation was mentioned several times during the day.

IMG_9853[1]The second day was dedicated to “Europe for Citizens” programme strand 1: “European Remembrance”, and Civil Dialogue Meeting for members and beneficiaries of “Europe for Citizens” 2014-2020 and took place on two different venues. As CMFE is member of Civil Dialogue here are the most important points of the meeting:

“Europe for Citizens” programme implementation and evaluation
The programme established by Council Regulation (EU) n. 390/2014 of 14 April 2014 for the period of 2014-2020 contributes to citizens’ understanding of the Union, its history and diversity. The aim is to foster European citizenship and improve conditions for civic and democratic participation at Union level. The programme is divided into two strands: “European Remembrance” and “Democratic engagement and civic participation”. The purposes of the mid-term evaluation are: to meet the requirements of the programme’s regulation, to assess the results and outputs of the programme compared to its objectives and to assess qualitative and quantitative aspects of the programme implementation. The results of the evaluation will be used by the Commission: to reflect on the continuation or not of the programme in its current format or its merge with other EU funding programmes after 2020 in view of the communication on the continuation of the programme. The Commission will present the results of the interim evaluation in a report to be presented to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions by 31 December 2017. These results will be used to improve the implementation of the programme during the current MFF period and also feed into a communication to be presented by 31 December 2018 on the continuation and first orientations for a possible successor programme after 2020. The rapporteur of the intermediary evaluation of the Europe for Citizens programme is María Teresa Gimenez Barbat, MEP, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Priorities of the programme for 2017-2020
For the 2017-2020 period, priorities have been designed to stimulate debates on dates of European significance and topics having a strong resonance in present times (for the European Rememberance strand) or anchored in the social, economic and political reality of the European Union (for the democratic engagement and civic participation strand).
Specific priorities for European Remembrance (Strand 1):
1. Commemorations of major historical turning points in recent European history (see table)
2. Civil society and civic participation under totalitarian regimes
3. Ostracism and loss of citizenship under totalitarian regimes: drawing the lessons for today
4. Democratic transition and accession to the European Union

Year of application: Eligible commemorations
2017: 1917: The social and political revolutions, the fall of empires and their impact on Europe’s political and historical landscape and 1957: The treaty of Rome and the beginning of European Economic Community
2018: 1918: The end of the WWI – the rise of nation states and the failure to create a European cooperation and peaceful coexistence; 1938/39: Beginning of WWII; 1948: Beginning of the Cold War; 1948: The Hague Congress and the integration of Europe; 1968: Protest and civil rights movements, invasion to Czechoslovakia, student protest and anti-Semitic campaign in Poland
2019: 1979: European parliament elections – also 40 years since the first directly elected EP in 1979 and 1989: democratic revolutions in Central and Eastzern Europe and the fall of the Berlin wall; 2004: 15 years of EU enlargement into Central and Eastern Europe
2020: 1950: Robert Schuman Declaration; 1990: German reunification; 2000: Proclamation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

Specific priorities for European Remembrance (Strand 2):
1. Understanding and debating euroscepticism: (e.g. understanding of Euroscepticism, explain the benefits of EU policies, EU achievements and the cost of no Europe)
2. Solidarity in times of crises: (e.g. solidarity vs. responsibility, common solutions in a constructive way)
3. Combatting stigmatisation of “immigrants” and building counter narratives to foster intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding: (e.g. promote tolerance, respect of common values, foster civic participation of third-country nationals legally residing in the Eu)
4. Debate of the future of Europe: (e.g. concrete ways to create a more democratic Union, channels of e-participation)

Workshop Contribution
Closing the day there were workshops where participant had the opportunity to discuss recent topics and situation. “Combatting immigrants stigmatisation and promoting intercultural dialogue in a context of rising populism” workshop was animated by Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp, IEP-Berlin (The truth about lies on Europe, project). CMFE representative – Gabriella Velics – shared the idea of community media as a perfect tool not only for local communication but a place for participation and collective action with strong commitment to inclusive and intercultural practices. Many community radio and TV organisations have been working with the variety of language and minority groups and serve integration, strengthening local bonds of new citizens, Refugee Radio Network, Radio Rozana and also Radiofabrik Salzburg was mentioned as good practices reflecting and dealing with recent times.