Open letter to the citizens and the heads of State and Government of the European Union
In this period of economic recovery and relative stability, we Europeans are forgetting that not so long ago we stood on the edge of an abyss, and that our reality is still crippled by geopolitical and financial uncertainties, with record-high debt levels in Asia and America capable of triggering another worldwide economic crisis.
And we also forget that Heads of State and government on their own, without concrete citizen participation, cannot face up to the numerous and complex challenges lying ahead.
On the 9th of May 2016, we launched an appeal for a new European renaissance. Our main concern was to avoid the implosion of the European project in an unprecedented political momentum characterised by the rise of populistic and nationalistic sentiments. Our conviction being that only a sweeping movement gathering citizens and opinion leaders from across the political spectrum, could generate sufficient political pressure to guarantee the unity of the 27 in the event the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum would yield a negative outcome. European leaders had indeed agreed to David Cameron’s demands not to prepare a plan B since, he believed, preparing for an eventual exit of the United Kingdom could have accentuated the risk of a negative vote.
Our appeal was then formidably received. Tens of thousands of citizens reacted across the continent. Heads of State and Government summoned us and, most importantly, followed our double recommendation: remain united in negotiation and initiate work on a draft roadmap for the future of the Union. The presidents of the European Commission and European Council asked us to lead a reflection on the contents of this roadmap and, generally, on the best way to articulate national and European sovereignty. The outcomes of this reflection were outlined in the report on « The European Way for a Better Future » which was presented to them in March 2017. The essence of our proposals has since been the object of substantial political adoption, by the President of the European Commission in his latest State of the Union address, as well as by French President Emmanuel Macron, in his landmark Sorbonne and Strasbourg speeches. The European Parliament also took it on board.
A number of our specific recommendations are now becoming a reality, such as the citizen consultations, the priority now given to AI by the European Commission, the improvement of information quality, the modernisation of the European social model, and the Erasmus in Schools project. This progress still needs to be supported by a budget enabling the democratisation of Erasmus, the maintenance of an ambitious program for culture and a lasting expansion of R&D efforts. We are therefore happy for our successes, but remain worried nonetheless.
The wish for a stronger Europe expressed by our fellow citizens in the aftermath of the British referendum risks deflating if words are not followed by additional concrete actions. The latest electoral results showcase a continuous rise of populist movements. Making matters worse, respect for the rule of law and the fundamental values, media pluralism and freedom of speech, appear to never have been this endangered within the Union. Yet the latter seems to be passively entering a new phase of lethargy, with Brexit fully enacted in only a few months.
Therefore, on this 9th of May, this European day, we call for a new revival from our leaders as well as from all citizens, opinion influencers, trade unions, and business organisations around the continent. Without a commitment of the June European Council on a clear plan and calendar for the revival of the Union, made of concrete actions having a positive impact on citizens’ daily lives, the next European elections will be marked by an unprecedented rise of populist forces. Accordingly, we encourage all Europeans to participate in the citizen consultations, in the hope they achieve to include even the most vulnerable and lead to a genuine consideration of all the different opinions expressed.
That being said, it is our deep conviction that we should aim to be more innovative and ambitious in this unprecedented period of transformation. And It is with this ambition in mind that we want to invent a new step in European democracy.
Indeed, we propose to create a perpetual right to participation in the political life of the Union, and invite all to join us in building civico.eu, a permanent civic platform, transnational and multilingual, allowing citizens not only to be consulted but also to drive a direct civic dialogue making concrete proposals emerge to continuously feed European institutions.
Today’s digital technologies, the progress made in automated translation, and the developments in relation to AI, allow for democracy to be envisaged differently. This is in no way about putting representative democracy to rest, but about complementing it through a democratic tool enabling continuous deliberative participation. Today more than ever, we are convinced that our fellow citizens must be empowered to form a genuine transnational civic force.
Seventy years to the day after The Hague Congress – true founding act of the European Union – we call for a new congress of the European consciousness before the end of the year, assembling citizens, opinion influencers, and leaders from across the European spectrum, to start jointly writing a new page of our common history. It is by equally entrusting swift and concrete advancements, a democratic renewal securing our fundamental values, and a gathering of good wills, that we will rekindle the trust between European citizens and European institutions in a spirit of renewed solidarity.
This is the fundamental condition to enable the transformation of the Union into a great democratic, cultural, social, environmental, and industrial power, capable of decisively weighing on the evolution of our planet, the safeguard of its citizens’ interests, and the advent of a better world.
Signatories of the CIVICO Europa appeal (civico.eu):
Guillaume Klossa (FR), CIVICO Europa ideator, corporate manager, author, and former sherpa of the reflexion group on the future of Europe (European Council); Alberto Alemanno (IT), Law professors, founder of the Good Lobby; László Andor (HU), economist, former European Commissioner; Lionel Baier (CH), film director; Miklos Barabas (HU), director, House of Europe; Enrique Baron Crespo (ESP), former President of the European Parliament; Mars di Bartolomeo (LU), President of the Luxembourg Parliament; Brando Benifei (IT), Member of the European Parliament; Sylvain Bonnet (FR), corporate executive; Mercedes Bresso (IT), Member of the European Parliament, former President of the Regions Committee; Elmar Brok (DE), Member of the European Parliament, former President of the Foreign Affairs Commission, PPE, European Parliament; Philippe de Buck (BE), former General Director of Business Europe, member of the Economic and Social European Committee; Thomas de Charentenay (FR), corporate manager; Daniel Cohn-Bendit (FR/DE), former President of the « Greens » group, European Parliament; Georgios Dassis (GR), syndicalist, former President of the Economic and Social European Committee; Piotr Dudek (PL), youth and universities coordinator, CIVICO Europa; Paul Dujardin (BE), General Director BOZAR; Isabelle Durant (BE), former Vice Prime Minister, Deputy Secretary General of the UNCTAD; Michele Fiorillo (IT), philosopher, network coordinator CIVICO Europa; Cynthia Fleury (FR), philosopher and psychoanalyst; Markus Gabriel (DE), philosopher; Christophe Galfard (FR), astrophysicist, author; Aart de Geus (DE), President of the Bertelsmann foundation; Felipe Gonzalez (ES), former Prime Minister, former President of the reflexion group on the future of Europe (European Council); Sandro Gozi (IT), European Affairs Minister; Danuta Huebner (PL), former European Commissioner, President of the Constitutional Affairs Commission, European Parliament; Ulrike Guérot (DE), Director, European Democracy Lab; Alain Juppé (FR), former Prime Minister, Mayor of Bordeaux; Charles Kaisin (BE), designer; Mathieu Labey (FR), entrepreneur; Christophe Leclercq (FR), media entrepreneur and founder of EurActiv; Jo Leinen (DE), Member of the European Parliament, President of the European International Movement; Andre Loesekrug-Pietri (DE/FR), founder ACapital, J.E.D.I. spokesperson; Robert Menasse (AT), author; Jean-Pierre Mignard (FR), lawyer; Alexandra Mitsotaki (GR), President ActionAid Hellas; Jonathan Moskovic (BE), co-coordinator of the G1000 project, founding member of CIVICO Europa; Ferdinando Nelli Feroci (IT), Ambassador, former European Commissioner, president of the IAI; Catherine Noone (IRL), Senator, President of the Irish citizens’ assembly; Johanna Nyman (FIN), former President of the European Youth Forum; Sofi Oksanen (FIN), author; Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins (PT), The Gulbenkian Foundation, former Minister; Erik Orsenna (FR), author; Rossen Plesneviev (BG), former President of the Bulgarian Republic; Francesco Profumo (IT), former Minister, President of the Compagnia di San Paolo foundation; Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic (NL/RS), General Secretary of Europa Nostra for the protection of the European heritage; Jean Quatremer (FR), journalist and author; Francesca Ratti (IT), former Deputy Secretary General of the European Parliament, founding member and president, CIVICO Europa; Maria João Rodrigues (PT), former Minister, Vice-President of the « Socialist and democrats » group, European Parliament; Robin Rivaton (FR), author; Petre Roman (RO), former Prime Minister; Taavi Roivas (EST), former Estonian Prime Minister; Wytze Russchen (NL), founding member of CIVICO Europa; Jochen Sandig (DE), Director of the Sasha Waltz and Guests dance company; Fernando Savater (ES) philosopher; Roberto Saviano (IT), author; Nicolas Schmit (LU), Labour, Employment, and Immigration Minister; Gesine Schwan (DE), President of the governance platform Humboldt-Viadrina; Dusan Sidjanski (CH-GR), emeritus professor of political science, University of Geneva; Denis Simonneau (FR), President of EuropaNova; Benjamin Spark (BE), artist; Farid Tabarki (NL), Studio Zeitgeist; Wolfgang Tillmans (DE), photographer and plastic artist; Kirsten van den Hul (NL), Member of Parliament; René van der Linden (NL), former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, former President of the Netherlands’ Senate; Guy Verhofstadt (BE), former Prime Minister, President of the «ALDE» group, European Parliament; Vaira Vike Freiberga (LAT), former President of the Latvian Republic; Cédric Villani (FR), mathematician, Fields Medal awardee, Member of Parliament; Pietro Vimont (FR/IT); founding member and director of operations, CIVICO Europa; Luca Visentini (IT), General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation; Leendert de Voogd (NL), enterprise manager; Sasha Waltz (DE), dancer and choreographer; Wim Wenders (DE) film director.
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