Active citizenship is the glue that keeps society together. Democracy doesn’t function properly without it, because effective democracy is more than just placing a mark on a voting slip.
You can read here 25 examples of how our members engage in active citizenship and get an idea how you can act as well!
We will publish one story per week, so please tune in!
By: Hans-Joachim Wilms
“In Germany we have lots of experience of the breakdown of the German Democratic Republic, and all the trouble that it brought. I tried to apply that experience to the process of enlargement, together with colleagues from the newer Member States.”
He argues that promoting European unity and solidarity is particularly relevant to German citizens. “Germany caused a lot of problems and suffering in the rest of Europe during World War II,” he explains. “That is not forgotten. We still have an open commitment to fulﬁl.”
By: Kathleen Walker Shaw
As European officer of the British GMB trade union, Kathleen Walker Shaw works in Brussels on behalf of her 610 000 members, alerting EU decision-makers to their interests. “I try to make the link between people who are seeking justice at local level, and the people who should be listening to them,” she says.
For example, since 1994 she has been active in the campaign to save the UK’s Remploy factories, which give work to thousands of disabled people. The GMB fought to change EU legislation to allow public authorities to award contracts to ‘supported’ businesses – now embodied in Article 19 of the Public Procurement Directive.
“It took us 10 years to get it into the Directive, and another two years working at national level to make sure they got it right. It was a non-mandatory clause.”
Nonetheless, 29 factories closed in 2008. Ms Walker Shaw believes disabled people should be able to choose supported employment if they wish. “These are rightfully proud workers with impressive skills,” she points out. “We were amazed at the amount of community support they had. It was uplifting.
By: Yannis Vardakastanis
Mr Vardakastanis is blind. Perhaps this was what motivated his life choices, shaped by active citizenship and the will to promote participation. Individual participation is needed at all levels, and his contribution is a prime example of how grass-roots activism can make a difference, bringing organisations that represent the needs and wishes of people with disabilities closer to key political figures and policy-makers at the local, national and international level.Read More...
By: Pavel Trantina
Among the scouts was Pavel Trantina, Vice-President of EESC Group III and former President of the Czech Council of Children and Youth. An EESC member since 2006, Mr Trantina specialises in youth issues that include education, employment and volunteering.Read More...
By: Dana Štechova
Active citizenship, especially for women, is very often also a question of time, says Dana Štechová. “If people are completely occupied with their daily problems and struggling to earn a decent salary, it is often more difficult for them to afford to take on extra activities, such as volunteering or helping others.”Read More...
By: Cveto Stantič
The Slovenian town of Nova Gorica, Cveto Stantič’s birthplace, is separated from its Italian neighbour Gorizia by nothing more than a border, established after the Second World War between Yugoslavia and Italy. Now, since Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, the twin towns form part of one single trans- border metropolitan area.Read More...
By: Anne-Marie Sigmund
“The European Citizens’ Initiative enshrines, for the first time in history, a direct cross-border, transnational democratic procedure,”says Ms Sigmund, who wrote the EESC opinion ‘The implementation of the Lisbon Treaty: participatory democracy and the Citizens’ Initiative’. The initiative is a milestone for the EU and a tool that gives citizens of several countries a transnational right of participation.Read More...
By: Madi Sharma
“It’s not the politicians who make a difference in the world, it is people at the grass roots who want to remedy an injustice or improve a situation. But many of them don’t know how to take the firststep,”Read More...
By: Luca Jahier
What is active citizenship and why is it important? These questions are at the centre of our concept of civic engagement and of participatory democracy, and in the EU, more than 100 million of our citizens are engaged in one aspect of active citizenship, namely: volunteering. This contributes to a more cohesive, productive and creative society which complements the state and the private sector.Read More...
By: Oliver Röpke
The European Citizens’ Initiative – an opportunity to be seized
What is active citizenship and why is it important? These questions are at the centre of our concept of civic engagement and of participatory democracy, and in the EU, more than 100 million of our citizens are engaged in one aspect of active citizenship, namely: volunteering. This contributes to a more cohesive, productive and creative society which complements the state and the private sector.