Bulgaria: Four group works
Group Active Citizenship / Online Voting
"If we want to improve the EU, we have to take the initiative ourselves, for the EU, that's us".
That's the conclusion of one group project in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. "We do not only have rights, but also obligations. Initiative is also informed and competence expected. Therefore, we believe that the rules should be written in simple language".
Four groups have focused on transparency and active citizenship. The one that has been working with transparency, suggests that we should demand "Regular financial reports from the MEPs on their activities and their financial status before their voters".
Another group requires more support (financial, advisory, exchange) for cross-border actions - as exchanges, sports weeks, artists initiatives or camps.
One group criticizes that "small countries" like Bulgaria are never given the role of coordinators in scale projects. "They act primarily as a partner". You want to have the possibility to realize the coordination of larger, transnational projects, they say.
With references to experience in Bulgarian, one group meant that Internet voting was
"A weapon in the ongoing battle against corruption".
we should view transparency as a basic part of any democracy?
- Live broadcast over the Internet of all meetings of the EU institutions -> access after application.
- All sessions in the European Parliament should be open to EU citizens.
There should be a possibility for participation.
- Every EU citizen should have access to all documents from EU institutions.
- Investigative journalists should have the right to get access to email lists and phone calls within the EU institutions.
- Better information and adequate information on transparency for all EU citizens.
- Regular financial reports from the MEPs to their electors on their activities and their financial status.
Active citizenship in the EU
How can we make it easier to find funds under the program Erasmus+ and other EU programs and ensure the sustainability of the project?
The application forms offered at present are too complicated and provide barriers and inhibitions of motivation of potential candidates is our suggestion would be.:
- Simpler forms for Erasmus +, because the information requested is repeated.
With regard to the sustainability of the project effective monitoring by the EU is necessary.
In principle, there are low budgets available to the national agencies in the smaller EU countries (in terms of population number). By European rules such countries are therefore at a disadvantage to take the role of coordinators in large-scale projects. They act primarily as a partner. Smaller countries should be given the opportunity to realize the coordination of larger, transnational projects.
Active citizenship in the EU
Our group has focused on 2 issues:
1. What actions and what supports are necessary to develop active European citizenship?
2. How can we make it easier to get support?
If we want to improve the EU, we must take the initiative, because the EU we are. We have not only rights but also obligations. Initiative also requires knowledge and skills. Therefore, we believe that the rules should be written in simple language.
We demand easier access to EU institutions and to their deputies who are to publish their reports online.
To achieve these objectives, we demand that the MPs discuss citizens' problems at the local level.
We insist that guidelines be adapted regionally.
For cross-border actions, we ask for support (financial, advisory, exchange). On the other hand, we must not be passive and just wait for offers, but to take the initiative and work on implementing. This could take the form of exchange, sports weeks, artists' initiatives or camps. This even builds up language acquisition and exchange.
Better language skills promoting mutual understanding and economic and cultural cooperation.
We insist that knowledge and diversity are promoted as a traditional European skills and virtues, so they can be effective and competitive in the future. Youth work should be prioritized.
A5: Do we need news types of democracy like internet voting, more opinion polls or large assemblies?
The group consisting of 3 Bulgarians and 1 Danes chose to concentrate on internet voting, given the fact that this had been a current discussion here in Bulgaria since the 2015 referendum, where Bulgarians voted for internet voting.
The new internet voting system is felt needed in the constant fight to counteract corruption.
(In the present system, powerful people as well as parties buy votes, whole villages, workers at factories, minorities etc.)
The aim of online voting would/should be:
- Empowerment: a way to empower people without restricting them.
Voting is still the most powerful way for citizens to have a voice in the leadership.
If voting systems are fair and easily accessible, citizens will feel a greater sense of value, ownership and responsibility.
Therefore it is important to reach as many citizens as possible with different election methods – including online voting.
Online voting is especially important for young people.
It suits them better than other types of voting because they are accustomed to using new technologies, which they always have in their hand. They don't want to waste time going to polling stations, not to speak about queuing. They are so comfortable with taking decisions by clicking.
For a nation's citizens living in other countries:
Every country has a diaspora living elsewhere. An online voting system will allow and empower them to vote both on a national and in due time perhaps on a European level.
Once again, this is especially important for the young generation which is encouraged to study and work abroad.
People living in remote areas and disabled people:
An online voting system will give them access to take an active part in election processes.
Again a matter of minimizing corruption. Online voting has to be run by a third party. It should eliminate the chance of election mismanagement or fraud.
Swift and accurate:
An online system using electronic ballot means that there will be no mismarked, invalid votes. Results are automatically calculated, eliminating the need for manual tabulation.
The group is aware of the fact that any system can be "hacked" or framed, but online voting systems cannot but diminish the chances of fraud or corruption and, first of all, allow people a more active attitude towards decision-making.
The Danish member of the group was preoccupied with the question of how the weaker part of the population – those who for one reason or another are not able to handle computers. A fair voting system must be assured for that group as well, so that they are not excluded from active citizenship.