Report on the My!Europe project

Populism

Citizens from 18 EU countries have participated in the My!Europe project and its final outcome, the “20 Recommendations For More Democracy in Europe”. The project was supported by a grant from the EU “Europe for Citizens” programme during a period of 18 months – from August 2015 to January 2017. This summary is part of a report for the Europe for Citizens program.


The My!Europe project was set up by the Sonnenberg movement – i.e the German Sonnenberg Association, the International Sonnenberg Association, Sonnenberg associations in Denmark, Great Britain and the Netherlands – plus three more partners: The Danish Cultural Institute in Riga, Latvia, the University of Pardubice, The Czech Republic, and the Bulgarian Association of Teachers of German.

The idea was to discuss the possible role of democratic participation in the future of Europe, supposedly in the form of a “declaration”. Ideas - relayed from one conference to the next, and reflected step-by-step on this website – resulted in the “20 Recommendations For More Democracy in Europe” which can be found in English, German and Danish on this website (under the “Papers to read” button)

My!Europe received a grant in 2015 from the Europe for Citizens programme under the European Commission, covering eight conference events in seven different countries during an 18 months period, from August 2015 to January 2017.

More than 600 EU citizens took part in the conferences, coming from a total of 18 EU countries.

The following is part of the final report to the Europe for Citizens programme, and the format follows its reporting template. The web report gives a brief overview of the eight conference events – plus two more: The preparatory seminar (Event 0) and a final seminar in the European Parliament in Brussels where the “20 Recommendations” were discussed with MEPs (Event 9).

IHS fra luften

International House Sonnenberg, St. Andreasberg, Harz mountains, Germany
Event 0: Preparatory seminar
Participation: The event involved 10 citizens from 5 different countries (3 from Germany, 2 from Denmark, 2 from Britain, 2 from Latvia, 1 from The Netherlands).
Location / Dates: The event took place on August 24-25, 2015, at The International House Sonnenberg, Skt. Andreasberg, Germany.
Host and organising project partner: The German Sonnenberg Association and The Internatinal Sonnenberg Association.

Short description:  The aim of the seminar was to set up a steering committee, take stock of on-going conference preparations and discuss funding issues.

Allinge 1The first conference venue: Allinge on Bornholm, a Baltic island.

Event 1: Denmark
Participation: The event involved 53 citizens from 8 different countries (2 participants from Austria, 30 from Denmark, 2 from Finland, 9 from Germany, 5 from Great Britain, 1 from The Netherlands, 3 from Norway and 1 from the Czech Republic).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Allinge on the island of Bornholm, Denmark, Sept 7-12, 2015.
Host and organising project partner: The Danish Sonnenberg Circle.

Short description:  The aim of the event was to discuss develop the outline themes for a declaration, or a set of recommendations, for a more democratic EU, and to relate a summary to the next-in-line, i.e. the conference in Riga, Latvia, in December, as well as to the website.  

Originally there had been an idea to focus on both ”participatory European democracy” and ”Social Europe”, but during discussions it was decided to limit declaration work to the former of the two.

Group work played a dominant role at this conference, in addition to inputs from
MEP Jeppe Kofod (DK),
Tarja Cronberg, former minister of labour, Finland, and former MEP (FI);
Steen Illeborg, Honorary Director General, EU Committee of the Regions (DK);
Jørgen Hammer, Union of the citizens organisations of Bornholm (DK); and
Erik Lund Hansen, the Regional Municipality of Bornholm.

Allinge Webinar PhotoFirst webinar. Live questions from around Europe coming in on Facebook.

Additional information on the www.myeurope.today Denmark tab, http://myeurope.today/en/denmark/

 

Adevale rjqXRRDdmDyumMUCWkHlOt rp j1RZa GKZoT8Zl1 wFjEJwBZXAsjQXtOJNMyCqtYOxuR6dAOebWV9NvXDJwYCultural night at the My!Europe conference in Riga

Event 2: Latvia / The 3 Baltic States
Participation: The event involved 141 citizens from 14 different countries (59 participants from Latvia, 38 from Estonia, 12 from Lithuania, 9 form Denmark, 6 from Germany, 3 from Britain and from The Czech Republic, 2 from Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland and Spain, 1 from Greece, Italy and Poland).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Riga, Latvia, Dec. 10-11, 2015.
Host and organising project partner: The Danish Cultural Institute to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Riga.

Short description:  
The aim of the event was to view Europe’s present the point of view of labour migration countries, and to discuss the issues relayed from Event 1.

The conference was prepared through cultural and internet events, and discussions were supplemented by an international cultural night.

In addition to group work there were interventions by
prof. Mihails Hazans, a labour migration specialist;
Natalja Mickevica, a Free Trade Union law expert; and Daiva Kvedaraite from the Solidarity Trade Union of Lithuania and member of the European Economic and Social Committee.
Short introductions included, among others, an MEP , from Estonia and one from Latvia.

Additional information on the www.myeurope.today 3xBaltic tab.


Event 3: The Czech Republic

Participation: The event involved 125 citizens from 5 different countries (109 participants from The Czech Republic, 5 from Germany, 4 from Austria, 3 from Great Britain and 2 from Denmark).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Pardubice, The Czech Republic, on April 7-8, 2016.
Host and organising project partner: The University of Pardubice.

PardubicexFINALUniversity of Pardubice, The Czech Republic, lecturer Jan Capek, audience

Short description:  The aim of the event was to discuss Europe as seen from The Czech Republic, with emphasis on immigration and refugee issues.
Speakers included Czech/German writer Milena Oda, Irena Krasnická from the Ministry of foreign affairs, and Martin Rozumek from the Organization for Refugee Assistance.
Groups discussions focused on the first outline draft for a document on more European democracy.

Additional information on the www.myeurope.today Czech tab.


Event 4: Germany (May 2016)
Participation: The event involved 74 citizens from 9 different countries (53 participants from Germany, 6 from Denmark, 5 from Great Britain, 4 from The Netherlands, 2 from Romania, 1 from Poland, 1 from Bulgaria, and 1 from Sweden).
Location / Dates: The event took place at the International House Sonnenberg, Skt. Andreasberg, Harz, Germany May 4-8, 2016.
Host and organising project partner: Sonnenberg-Kreis e.V.

Short description:  The aim of the event was to discuss Germany’s role in the European Union and to continue working on the proposals on more democracy in Europe submitted by the Czech conference.

The conference included “views” on Germany from Great Britain (Ian King, London), Denmark (Prof. Per Øhrgaard, Copenhagen), Agnieszka Lada (Warsaw, Poland), France (Michael Stange,
Nimes) and Germany itself (Manuel Möller, Berlin).

Also, a group of refugees from the Skt. Andreasberg refugee centre presented their story about how and why they came to Germany.

Fluchtlinge2Refugees, Sonnenberg, May 2017

Group and plenum discussions: Two strong themes were EU’s role in keeping peace in Europe, and refugees and ”Willkommenskultur”. Other themes concerned transparency and the structure of EU institutions. Many asked for more explanatory material on the EU.
More information on the www.myeurope.today Germany tab.


Damian Gorman poetNorthern Ireland poet Damian Gorman

Event 5: Great Britain

Participation: The event involved 54 citizens from 11 different countries (19 participants from the UK, 13 from Germany, 9 from Austria, 4 from Sweden, 3 from Denmark, and 1 from each of the following countries: Malta, Latvia, The Czech Republic, Eire, The Netherlands and Rumania).
Location / Dates: The event took place at Kent University, Canterbury, July 31-August 8, 2016.
Host and organising project partner: The Sonnenberg Association of Great Britain.

Short description:  The aim of the event was to discuss European democracy in a framework of conflict resolution, drawing on experience from Europe and around the world.
Conflict analysis dealt with such cases as Cyprus, Moldova, Northern Ireland and terrorism as well as Brexit.
Speakers included Prof. Rosemary Hollis, London, poet Damian Gorman, Northern Ireland and Wales, MEP Jeane Lambert, and Senior Research Fellow Yeshim Harris, U. of Kent.


Group CanterburyGroup photo, University of Kent, Canterbury

During group works such issues as election of the European Commission, EU competences, and Europe-wide elections were discussed as well as ways to encourage citizens to meet people in other countries.
Additional information on the www.myeurope.today Great Britain tab.


Event 6: Bulgaria

Participation: The event involved 71 citizens from 7 different countries (68 from Bulgaria, 2 from Romania, 3 from Austria and from Denmark, 2 from Great Britain and Germany, 1 from The Czech Republic).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on Sept. 6-7, 2016.
Host and organising project partner: The Bulgarian Association of Teachers of German.

 Bulg sep. 08 201611 09 AM 1

Final presentation of group work, Plovdiv

Short description:  The event was entitled “EU and Bulgaria. Love and… calculation?” The aim was to discuss what it means to be a European and to deal with the mixture of hope and disappointment which many Bulgarians feel.

Introductory lectures by professors Bogdan Mirchev and Albena Taneva were followed by extensive group work based on the revised version of the My!Europe paper on how to improve democracy in the EU.

Some of the points emphasized were more transparency, active citizenship, and the application of new techniques to democracy.

Bulg sep. 09 201611 06 AM

Conference organizer Violeta Gecheva and her husband Mr. Gechev who
organized a round trip in central Bulgaria for foreign visitors

Additional information on the www.myeurope.today Bulgaria tab.

Populism kopi

High-school students present their view of the future of Europe

Event 7: The Netherlands
Participation: The event involved 72 citizens from 6 different countries (Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Luxemburg).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Soesterberg, The Netherlands, on Oct. 26-30, 2016.
Host and organising project partner: Nederlandse Sonnenberg Vereniging.

Short description:  The aim of the event was to discuss EU scepticism, the role of globalization and the option of a more social Europe. 
Two young historians, Matthijs Lok and Robin de Bruin, put the Dutch-European relationship into historical perspective, while a young Social Democrat, Bernard Naron, gave a critical analysis of today’s neo-liberalist restructuring of society, while a group of 20-odd high school students gave their view of the future of Europe, leading to a discussion with the grown-ups in the conference.
Group work emphasised “more heart” (more emphasis on values) and “more education” – i.e. more education on Europe, in schools and as part of public education.

Additional information on the www.myeurope.today Netherlands tab.



20 Recommendations kopiResult
Event 8: Germany / Final conference

Participation: The event involved 40 citizens from 7 countries (24 participants from Germany, 7 from Denmark, 2 from Great Britain, 2 from Bulgaria, 2 from The Czech Republic, 2 from Austria and 1 from The Netherlands).
Location / Dates: The event took place at the International House Sonnenberg, Skt. Andreasberg and Hannover, Germany, Nov. 22-25, 2017.

Host and organising project partner: The International Sonnenberg Association.

Short description:  The aim of the event, entitled “Rethink Europe” was to discuss Europe’s situation today, exchange views between representatives from the seven participating countries, and to finalise a common document – the title of which became “20 Recommendations For More Democracy in Europe”.

Main speakers: Prof. Albena Taneva, Bulgaria, MEP Sven Giegold (Germany) and Vincent Immanuel Herr (Herr und Speer, Germany).

Additional information on the www.myeurope.today front page.  

Jeppe Kofod FORBEDRET kopiEuropean Parliament, seminar room, January 25, 2017

Event 9: European Parliament
An additional event, not formally included under the Europe for Citizens grant, was a presentation at a seminar at the European Parliament of the “20 Recommendations”.

Participation: The event involved 8 representatives of the My!Europe conferences and 6 MEPs.
Location / Dates: The event took place at the European Parliament, Brussels.
Host and organising project partner: Jeppe Kofod, MEP, and The International Sonnenberg Association.

Short description:  The aim of the event was to present the “20 Recommendations For More Democracy in Europe” and discuss possible ways to move on towards more democracy with MEP.

Additional information on the www.myeurope.today front page.

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