Workshop 1: Resilient democracies: the positive impact of civic action and organised civil society

Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 14:30 – 17:30/ JDE 62

Organised by: Volonteurope, European Citizen Action Service, European Civic Forum and the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC), EESC


14.30 - 15.30h - Panel local/grassroots level. Moderator: Alexandrina Najmowicz, European Civic Forum Director

  • Alessandra Sciurba –  Mediterranea
  • Giada Negri – European Civic Forum
  • Assya Kavrakova – ECAS, author of “Populism in Non-Metropolitan Areas in Europe”

15.30 - 16.30h - Panel national/transnational level. Moderator: Oonagh Aitken, Volonteurope President

  • Christian Moos – Member of the EESC GR III / Germany
  • Timo Szczepanska, Arctic University of Tromso, Norway
  • Bartosz Kramek, Foundation's Council of the Open Dialogue Foundation, Poland

16.30 – 17.30h - Intervention from a South-Korean delegation of CSOs on civic activism


Speaking about democracy, the global trends over the past few years could easily be described as the rise of authoritarianism. However, with what many writers and historians refer to as “qualified optimism”, we are witnessing growing democratic resilience, expressed either by institutions which resist their collapse or, more generally, by resilient citizens who spontaneously form active groups and movements.

Although their achievements might seem small in comparison with the spread of “illiberal regimes”, they have an outstanding record of initiatives that have pushed back authoritarian tendencies. From the very local level to the transnational one, these groups have managed to oppose the dangerous shift towards the authoritarian way of governing and to come up with sustainable collective solutions, reappropriating civic space and contributing to the rebuilding of trust.

Behind the single governance method, the questioning of democracy has gone hand in hand with a strong resurgence of hate and exclusion-based “values”, which threaten the collective well-being and fuel tensions between different parts of the population.

How can civil society, civic actors and active citizens reclaim democratic values and stop the erosion of democratic checks and balances?

The wave of authoritarianism: who is responsible?

The workshop will aim to present various successful and positive initiatives that have mitigated the rise of authoritarianism. The audience will be invited to speak and feed into the discussion using the fishbowl method, and to put questions to the panellists.

Work organisation


Programme workshop 1