In the recent past the European Union has been facing disaffection from a significant proportion of its citizens. The financial crisis, wars around Europe, terrorist attacks and the large-scale arrival of refugees have led to resurgence in national egoism.
The suspension of Schengen, Brexit and the rise of populism and authoritarian parties in many Member States threatens the very existence of the Union.
What should have been a moment of celebration on 25 March 2017 actually revealed the shortcomings and limitations of the EU integration process.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has put forward, in his 'White Paper on the future of Europe', five scenarios for an EU at 27, hoping to stir a debate leading to the European Council meeting of December 2017 and to relaunch the European project.
Civil society organisations are in a key position between citizens and European institutions, giving them the power to offer new perspectives for the Union and to propose concrete solutions for the future of Europe.
The Civil Society Days 2017 take up this challenge. As a framework, forming part of civil dialogue in line with Article 11 TEU, they are a unique chance for civil society organisations to contribute to this debate, thus bringing new impetus and show its continued support for to the European project.
It's time for civil society to raise its voice.
"The Europe we strive for!" will be organised civil society's call for a new political impulse to relaunch the EU on the basis of our values and roots and also give a clear commitment of civil society organisations to forge ahead.
It will focus on four themes:
- Populism, and how to develop a counter-narrative through education and culture;
- Technological revolution: transforming work, minds and society;
- Empowerment of civil society organisations, rights and the shrinking space for civil society;
- Urban and rural dimensions, moving towards more social and territorial cohesion.