Christa SCHWENG,
President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

Christa Schweng was elected President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in October 2020. She has been an EESC member for 22 years, working as rapporteur for several opinions.

She is the outgoing president of the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship and chaired the Labour Market Observatory from 2013 to 2015.

Ms Schweng gained deep expertise in social and employment issues, working as an advisor both at EU level and in her native Austria. Outside the EESC, she works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.

She has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work since 1995 and has held every three years the rotating presidency of the Board of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work since 2001. She chaired the SMEunited Social Affairs Committee between 2001 and 2009.

Christa Schweng holds a master's degree in law from the University of Vienna.

Dubravka ŠUICA
European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography

Since December 2019, Dubravka Šuica is Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography. Ms Šuica is a Croatian politician from the city of Dubrovnik, where she served for two terms as its first female mayor and was awarded the 2006 World Mayor Award.

Dubravka Šuica entered politics in the 1990s as a Member of the Croatian Democratic Union and served as a Member of the Croatian Parliament and Vice-Chair of the EU Integration Committee. Between 2004 and 2009 she was a Board Member of the Union of the Association of Towns and Municipalities of the Republic of Croatia. During ten years she was the Vice-President of Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

From 2013 to 2019 Dubravka Šuica served as a Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of Foreign Affairs Committee. In June 2019, Dubravca Šuica was elected as first Vice-Chair of EPP Group in the European Parliament. Since 2012, she is the Vice-President of EPP Women.

Helmut Scholz,

Helmut Scholz is Member of European Parliament since 2009 and serves as Coordinator of THE LEFT in the Committees on Constitutional Affairs and International Trade. His main areas of work include the Conference on the Future of Europe, Brexit, European Citizens Initiative, citizens’ participation in EU decision-making, democracy, rule of law and human rights. He also sits in Parliament’s US, China, Belarus, Moldova and Euronest Delegation. Born in Berlin in 1954, he graduated at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations in political science in 1980 and served as diplomat in the Embassy of the German Democratic Republic in China. 

Kinga JOÓ,
Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), chair of the ECI ad hoc group of the EESC

Kinga Joó is a member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2010. She is active in the work of the Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) and Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and Information Society (TEN) sections. She was rapporteur of the EESC opinion adopted in March 2018 on the „Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Citizens' Initiative”.

Her background is in social and civil society organisations in Hungary. She is chairing the Social Responsibility board of the National Civil Cooperation Fund since 2020, where she has been a board member during the last three terms. She is also vice-president of the largest family organisation in Hungary, the National Association of Large Families (NOE).

Christophe LEFÈVRE,
Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

LEFÈVRE, Christophe, 54 years old, French, MBA specialized in Insurance

National representative at the EESC of the French Confederation of Management - General Confederation of Executives (CFE-CGC), former responsible for European and international affairs

  • Member and former President of the European Citizen Initiative since 2015
  • INT Single Market, Production and Consumption Section member (Bureau member)
  • ECO Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion Section Member
  • Conference on Future of Europe EESC Executive Committee/ad-hoc group member

Member of the Board of Directors of Think Thanks like Confrontations Europe, Europe & Entreprise, Icosi, AFOIT (French association of ILO), President of the European Federation of Managers & Managerial Staff of the Insurance Sector (AECA), and currently working in a reinsurance Company while being also Secretary of its European Worker’s Committee. 

Stefan ROCH,
Bertelsmann Stiftung

Stefan Roch is a Project Manager on citizen participation and European democracy at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Germany. He has been involved in the implementation of several democratic innovations such as transnational Citizens’ Dialogues with the European Commission or the Keleti Connected project.

He has published widely on issues such as EU participatory democracy, Open Society, Academic Freedom and the European Neighbourhood Policy. Stefan holds a PhD from Central European University and an LL.M. from TU Dresden. Previously to the Bertelsmann Stiftung he worked for Central European University and the International Labour Organisation, among others.

Carsten BERG,
The ECI Campaign, Transnational Democracy Observatory at EUI Florence

Carsten Berg has successfully campaigned for the introduction of the ECI into EU primary law during the Convention on the Future of Europe (2002/03). Today, he advises ongoing ECIs through the ECI Help Desk of the Association for the ECI e.V. and works across the entire field of democratic innovations, including randomly selected citizens’ assemblies.

In 2018 he was part of the small group of experts who designed the world’s first permanent Citizens’ Assembly in Ost Belgium. Carsten Berg also is an EUI Berggruen Fellow in Florence coordinating the Transnational Democracy Observatory at the School of Transnational Governance.

Global Democracy Correspondent at the Swiss Broadcasting Company

Bruno Kaufmann is the Global Democracy Correspondent at the Swiss Broadcasting Company. As a political scientist Bruno has published widely on participatory and direct democracy in general - and the European Citizens' Initiative specifically.

He is the author of the European Democracy Passport and the Global Passport to Modern Direct Democracy. He has served in local government both in Switzerland and Sweden, where he was the City Councillor for Democracy in Falun. 

Bruno is the Co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy and is a Research Fellow at the Arizona State University. He serves as the Director of International Cooperation at the Swiss Democracy Foundation.

Daniela VANCIC,
European Programme Manager at Democracy International

Daniela Vancic is the European Programme Manager at Democracy International since 2017 and responsible for all activities related to the European Citizens’ Initiative. She collaborates with ECAS under the Secretariat-General of the European Commission on developing and implementing the ECI Forum, consults ECI related stakeholders, and offers tailor-made campaigning and fundraising advice to ECI organisers.

Daniela develops the European projects and campaigns of Democracy International and manages European wide efforts to strengthen direct democracy and citizens’ participation in the EU. She monitors democratic trends and developments such as the Conference on the Future of Europe and advocates for better democratic implementation including in advocating for a strong follow up. Daniela maintains Democracy International’s extensive network of European organisations, partners, and stakeholders.

Organiser of the initiative "Save bees and farmers"

Helmut Burtscher-Schaden, PhD, born 1966 in Höchst, studied biochemistry at the Vienna University of Technology, then worked in medical and immunological research.

Since 2001 he has been working for the environmental protection organisation GLOBAL 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) on the effects of chemicals, especially pesticides, on humans and the environment. Mr Burtscher-Schaden is co-initiator of the European citizens' initiatives "Stop Glyphosate" and "Save Bees and Farmers".

Katharina LOUPAL,
Organiser of the initiative "Stop finning – Stop the trade"

Katharina Loupal is a communication expert, fundraiser and shark advocate. 
She was part of the ECI “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade” where she supported the core team as Social Media Manager over the entire voting period. 

supporter of the initiatives "End the cage age", "Save cruelty-free cosmetics" and organiser of the initiative "Fur free Europe"

With a background in Communications and European politics, Elise Fleury has been working at Eurogroup for Animals for the last 10 years. She is leading pan-European Campaigns involving Eurogroup for Animals' 84 member organisations to improve the well-being of as many animals as possible and defend their interests. The organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its members and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal protection.

Alvaro OLEART,
Post-doctoral researcher at Studio Europa Maastricht

Alvaro Oleart is a postdoctoral researcher at Studio Europa Maastricht and the Department of Political Science of Maastricht University. He is the author of the book "Framing TTIP in the European Public Spheres: Towards an Empowering Dissensus for EU Integration".

European Commission, Secretariat-General, Policy Priorities & Work Programme

Silvia Kersemakers leads the European citizens’ initiative (ECI) team in the Secretariat-General of the Commission, which she joined in 2019. The team is entrusted with the management of the citizens’ initiatives, providing guidance and information on the legal and practical aspects of this unique instrument, liaising with stakeholders, managing the business aspects of the different IT tools supporting organisers and citizens, and a large range of communication activities to make the ECI better known.  

Silvia has been working with the Commission since 2001, where she has held several positions, working in the first years in DG Competition in the field of anti-trust and as business project manager in DG Employment. Before joining the Secretariat-General, she worked in DG FISMA in the field of retail payments, where she contributed to the successful revision of the Payment Services Directive (PSDII) and a series of technical standards to implement that Directive. 

Lead of IT Team on ECI, DIGIT, European Commission

Jérôme Stefanini, IT Project Officer, European Commission, Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT).

Jérôme leads the IT team of the European Citizens' Initiative for the last 6 years. He is responsible for the Commission Central Collection System, the ECI Organiser application and the File Exchange Service. He contributed to the drafting of the current ECI regulation for its IT aspects. Jérôme supports the organisers of European Citizens’ Initiatives and liaises with the different stakeholders (Citizens, Member States representatives, Solutions providers, European Commission directorates (for eID, Security, GDPR, Secured Hosting…)).

Organiser of the initiative "Stop finning – Stop the trade"

Nils Kluger is an HR manager and communication expert. He is active in shark conservation for Stop Finning Deutschland and a scuba diving instructor. His passion for shark conservation derived from diving with sharks around the world. Nils was impressed by both the beauty of sharks and their meaning for marine ecosystems.
As one of the biggest threats for sharks worldwide is being hunted for their fins, Nils founded the EU citizens initiative "Stop Finning - Stop the trade". The initiative was joined by 100 NGOs and many more corporations, companies and diving associations.

Senior Manager European Democracy, European Citizen Action Service (ECAS)

Elisa Lironi is the Senior Manager European Democracy, working at the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) since 2015. She develops and leads ECAS’ European Democracy focus area by implementing EU projects and research studies related to Digital Democracy, Civic Participation and Understanding Populism. She has been coordinating several projects from different EU programmes. She is currently leading CODE Europe - a project on crowdsourcing citizens' ideas on air quality (EEA grants), and recently published her latest book chapter 'Crowdsourcing EU Legislation: Harnessing the Power of Digital Democracy' (ECPR Press, 2021).

She was managing the ECI Support Centre from 2015 to 2017 to support organisers in using the European Citizens’ Initiative. Since 2018, she is the ECI Expert for the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum and part of the team working with Secretariat-General of the European Commission on developing and implementing this online collaborative platform.

Andreea BELU,
European Digital Rigths (EDRi)

Andreea Belu heads the Campaigns and Communications team in the European Digital Rights (EDRi) network, overseeing network strategy and governance, monitoring and evaluation as well as campaigns narrative, design and coalition building.

She co-leads the coordination of the Reclaim Your Face campaign, around the ECI for a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices. 

Andreea has an academic background in Business Administration, Politics and Philosophy and professional experiences in communication, coalition building, user research and tech startups. Before joining EDRi, she worked as a journalist, co-founded a Danish NGO, and coordinated a national campaign aimed at EU digital policy change. 

Yilly Vanessa PACHECO,
Research Fellow

Yilly Vanessa Pacheco is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department for International Economic and Environmental Law at the Georg-August University of Göttingen, Germany. She holds a Ph.D. in Public International Law from the Georg-August University of Göttingen, and an LL.B. and an LL.M from Universidad Santiago de Cali, Colombia. Yilly has been a lecturer and researcher on environmental law, constitutional law, human rights, international law, and European Law. She was member of the Jean Monnet Chair for European and International Law of Sustainable Development (EILS) of the University of Göttingen from 2019 to 2022. Yilly has published several papers and book chapters on multilevel environmental governance, climate change regime, international labor law, international forest law, and environmental matters in EU Trade Agreements. Since 2021, she works as a researcher, lecturer, and coordinator of the Erasmus+ Project “European Citizen´s Initiative: A tool for engagement and active citizenship - ECI from A to Z” jointly developed between the universities of Coimbra (Portugal), Göttingen (Germany), Vigo (Spain), and Iasi (Romania).

Organiser of Voters Without Borders ECI, Advocacy and Events Assistant at ECIT Foundation

Saga Smith studied a Master’s in European Affairs at Lund University. She is finnish-british and one of the young Europeans campaigning for the ECI Voters Without Borders, demanding for full political rights for mobile EU Citizens. Her full-time position is in advocacy and events for ECIT Foundation.

organiser of the ECI « European EcoScore »

Elsa Kraemer is the substitute, and one of the organisers of the ECI « European EcoScore ». This ECI aims at establishing a transparent and standardised label with letters going from A to F, showing the environmental impact of all products sold in the EU. 

She is advocating for these ambitious goals together with the other young organisers and 80 European citizens that are part of the initiative. 

Elsa is also currently finishing her LL.M in European Law. 

EU Youth Coordinator

Biliana Sirakova was appointed as the first EU Youth Coordinator in June 2021. Working in the European Commission, in the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, she aims to strengthen cooperation between Commission services on youth issues and to integrate the youth perspective into all relevant EU policies. She has been a European Commission civil servant since 2010. Biliana's educational background is in economics and management. She has eighteen years of professional experience across the public, private and non-profit sectors. Biliana's work has revolved around building and managing relationships with diverse stakeholders and communicating for impact and learning. In the framework of the European Year of Youth, Biliana is responsible for the engagement of European youth stakeholders and National coordinators of the Year.

Michael McLoughlin,
Head of Advocacy and Communications with Ireland's largest youth organisation

Michael McLoughlin - Head of Advocacy and Communications with Ireland's largest youth organisation. Responsible for policy, advocacy, communications, and lobbying. Board member The National Youth Council of Ireland Former Chairperson of Learags, Ireland's National Agency for the ERASMUS+ programme.  Legally qualified Formerly worked with Ireland's Institute of International and European Affairs and ESF Evaluation Unit Recently completed Masters in International Relations 1st Class Honours Particular fields of interest; International Relations, Social Policy, EU External Relations, Youth and Children, Advocacy, International and EU Law 

Luis Morago,
Campaign Director, Avaaz.org

An experienced human rights campaigner, Luis Morago worked as policy advisor in ActionAid International, and then led Oxfam’s Brussels office, participating in the organisation’s advocacy initiatives at the European Institutions. Since 2008 he has been a Campaign Director for Avaaz, the global civic movement connecting over 69 million citizens worldwide, and bringing people-powered politics to decision-making on issues like climate change, biodiversity, human rights, and the fight against corruption and misinformation.