The opinion, requested by the Romanian Presidency, aims to look at possible ways through which people can acquire solid knowledge about the European Union, its foundations, procedures and actions, as well as its positive achievements and the concrete benefits it offers. This type of education would contribute towards building citizens' ownership over the European decision-making process and ensure that their vision, needs and priorities are adequately reflected in the European agenda at all levels.
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In each of the 27 EU countries, there are laws or organisational arrangements which exclude some voters with disabilities from participating in EP elections. If the best practices from across all countries were implemented, an ideal system would emerge in which every EU citizen with disabilities not only would have the full possibility to vote but also would be able to choose for themselves the most convenient way in which to vote.
The EESC takes careful note of the initiative's definition of disinformation as verifiably false or misleading information that is a threat to democracy and does public harm. Spreading disinformation has become a part of a hybrid war with a clear political aim. However, it also emphasises that, in addition to false information, highly selective information, defamation, scare-mongering and inciting hatred attack citizens' fundamental rights (freedoms) and minority rights.
Multiple actions from all stakeholders are needed to provide quality information and raise awareness. To this end, the EESC welcomes the initiative for coordinated action to protect the EU, its institutions and its citizens against disinformation. The EESC emphasises the urgency of such measures but is also concerned, however, that the impact of this action plan might be limited given that the May 2019 European elections are not far off.
The opinion tables proposals on how to enhance the European project and bring it closer to its citizens.
The EESC is a bridge between the EU and its citizens, through the diversity of its members, and as such would like to propose its ambitious vision for the future, with Europe becoming the global leader on sustainable development
The EESC supports the objectives of the Commission proposal and agrees that democracy is one of the fundamental values on which the EU is founded. The EESC recognises that the procedures for the elections of the EP are Member State governed within the EU framework. Enabling the Authority for European political parties and European political foundations (the 'Authority') to impose sanctions is one way of ensuring personal data is protected and not misused for political gain. The EESC supports the additional staffing of the Authority with a view that this staff will be better positioned to work with the national DPAs to ensure that data protection infringements are properly investigated and where found sanctions applied.
The EESC opinion on the "Reinforcing democracy and integrity of elections package", adopted at the February plenary session, comes in at a very timely moment, with populist voices and anti-democratic rhetoric gaining ground in Europe. Manipulative information, interference and fake news disseminated by "bots" and "trolls" could generate a "casus belli" pretext, as we have witnessed all too recently. The EESC welcomes the aims of the European election package and makes recommendations to further secure transparent, accessible and honest political activities and an active role of civil society.
EESC resolution urges civil society to turn out in force at European elections and vote for a united Europe
The EESC's plenary session on 15 May adopted a resolution calling on all EU citizens to turn out at the forthcoming European elections and vote in favour of a united Europe. The Committee also invited civil society organisations to join efforts to mobilise voters. Read the full text here.
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