BUILDING ON THE SUCCESS and carrying forward the legacy of civil society forums in countries holding the EU Presidencies over the last ten years, the European Civic Forum joins forces with the Citizen Participation Forum, the BlueLink Foundation and the European Citizen Action Service to organize a European conference “Citizenship – Participation – Policies: Building Europe from Grassroots up” on 29-31 May in Sofia.
Taking stock of the current state of democracy and civic space in Europe, this conference will spot positive examples of civic engagement and co-decision in policy making, placing civic participation in the broader context of European democracy with growing demands from citizens to have a real say in shaping their future in common.
As democratic representation is facing an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy and the gap between politics and citizens has been widening, in many cities, regions, countries, and often transnationally, new forms of engagement are emerging, outside the box of representative democracy.
Civic actors and movements build power upon strong local or regional support, but their claims need to be addressed in a wider context, as we live now in a multi-level governance system where policy-making responsibility is shared among a variety of actors at European, national and local levels.
How can the European Union better take into account its citizens concerns and expectations? What place should civil society organisations have in changing the way citizens are involved in decision-making? What are the challenges and opportunities of co-deciding with citizens at local, national and European levels? This event provides a unique space for civic actors to share and learn from different experiences, hear from a variety of stakeholders and envision ways forward towards a renewal of the European democracy along core values of equality, solidarity and inclusiveness.
Citizen Participation Forum is a network of over a 100 Bulgarian civil society organisations, working in different fields of society. The network is united by the idea to enhance citizen participation and CSOs’ involvement in policy-making and to foster institutions’ accountability.
The European Civic Forum (ECF) is a transnational network that brings together over 100 associations and NGOs across 27 countries in Europe, actively working on issues such as citizenship education, defence of human rights and the advocacy of democracy.
The European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) is an international, Brussels-based non-profit organisation with a pan-European membership and 27 years of experience. Our mission is to empower citizens in order to create a more inclusive and stronger European Union by:
- Promoting and defending citizens’ rights
- Developing and supporting mechanisms to increase citizens and citizen organisations’ democratic participation in, and engagement with, the EU.
BlueLink was founded as a pioneer network in Bulgaria in 1998. Today BlueLink is a well established hub of coordination, exchange of information and information technology innovation among environmental civil society organisations (CSOs) and groups. BlueLink operates from Bulgaria across Central and Eastern Europe, the EU, South Eastern Europe, the former USSR, and globally as a member of the Association for Progressive Communications. It is also a member of other coalitions, platforms and initiatives across Europe (e.g. of Justice and Environment).