At a turning point for Europe, and when there seems to be little to celebrate on Europe Day, the European Democracy Lab partners up with civil society organisations from across our Union to organise Citizens Take Over Europe. On this year’s Europe Day, we provided  an open space to discuss current problems and co-develop solutions from a political, social and personal perspective. Our day-long marathon on the 9th of May curated a rich program of online events from across Europe. The programme included artistic performances, political debates, readings, and podcasts to be broadcasted through our partners’ channels.

Our action on the 9 th of May, that kicked off the CITIZENS TAKE OVER EUROPE initiative, managed to solve this paradox with digital means. Within a few weeks, 45 civil society organisations partnered up to organise a digital campaign that concluded in a day-long marathon of over 33 live online events. On Europe Day 2020, we managed to create a transnational public space for political groups, artists, and engaged citizens to discuss the problems that Europeans are facing today, and especially in times of Corona. A public exchange of political visions, policy proposals, hopes and fears with a diverse set of Europeans that kept their physical distance, staying home – this was CITIZENS TAKE OVER EUROPE. As Niccoló Milanese (European Alternatives) pointed out in the opening of the day: »despite my social isolation, I am not alone«.

During the day, we had sessions on political visions like »A Green Card for Europe«

(New Europeans) or »A Green New Social Deal« (Eumans). We debated »The Future of (Global) Education in Europe« (Obessu) or »How to Design a European Citizens’ Assembly« (Civico Europa/Eumans). We had »Citizens Speak Out During The Crisis« (European Democracy Lab) and followed an exchange on »Women’s Rights – Covid – Future« from feminist organisations from across Europe. The CITIZENS TAKE OVER EUROPE initiative continues to gain supporters and members. The European Democracy Lab is one of the original initiators of the CITIZENS TAKE OVER EUROPE campaign. 

Reflecting on our action on the 9 th of May, we think that the kick-off demonstrated once more the vast potential of the digital public sphere. It is remarkable what a group of dedicated individuals with a couple of laptops can put

  1. together with today’s technology. With little to no extra funding for the project, the
  2. coalition prepared a multi-channel live conference that worked better than many
  3. costly high-profile events. Established organisations and actors, whose stated
  4. mission is the promotion of a European political union that »puts citizens at the

heart« of its democratic processes, should take seriously and support diverse coalitions like CITIZENS TAKE OVER EUROPE: digital communication tools that allow various, easy to use forms of online participation unfold their political potential in the hands of such bottom-up initiatives.
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Posted on

August 8, 2020