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ECI DAY 2016 speakers
Heike Aghte

Heike AGHTE, ECI “30 km/h – making streets liveable”

Heike Aghte works as an advisor for the participation of the civil society in EU policy, with a special focus on environmental and transport policy. She organised the ECI “30 km/h – making streets liveable” and was speaker of its citizens´ committee. Heike closely co-operates with the ECI campaign and has become a member of the Association for the ECI, in order achieve real progress for the ECI as a tool for participation of the citizens.

Carsten BERG, director of The ECI Campaign

Carsten Berg is known as one of the "fathers" of the European Citizens' Initiative. He has advocated for the ECI and participatory democracy for nearly 20 years. He successfully campaigned for the inclusion of the ECI into EU law during the 2002-2003 Convention on the Future of Europe. He has since led The ECI Campaign (www.citizensinitiative.eu) which works exclusively for the successful implementation of the ECI by monitoring ECI use, advocating for reform and supporting ECI organisers with help desk services. He is also a board member of the Association for the ECI which supports the advancement of EU participatory democracy.

Michael EFLER, national spokesperson for Mehr Demokratie, initiator of TTIP ECI

Michael Efler is an economist with doctorate on international investment agreements. Since 1997, he has been professionally involved with Mehr Demokratie and acts as its national spokesperson since 2009. In 2014 he initiated the European Citizens´ Initiative Stop TTIP and was a representative of the Citizens´ Committee.

David Garrahy

David GARRAHY, European Youth Forum

David Garrahy leads the European Youth Forum’s Advocacy and Policy outreach at European and Global levels on themes such as youth employment, youth organisation development and youth political participation. He also oversees work in facilitating cooperation between youth organisations members and decision-makers at Member State level. Before this, he lead the Youth Forum’s campaign for the 2014 European Elections entitled LoveYouthFuture, which saw many candidates endorsing the Youth Forum election manifesto.

Roman Haken

Roman HAKEN, member of the European Economic and Social Committee, ECI study group

After the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia (1989) he was the first President of the environment movement, Hnuti Brontosaurus, in Czech Republic and held political function as a founder of the Green Party and elected member of the Council and then Assembly of the City of Prerov (Central Moravia, 1990-1994). 1990–1992 worked in the new founded Czech-Slovak Federal Ministry for the Environment as a contact officer between the Ministry and NGOs. From 1996 Executive Director of NGO Centre for Community Organising. He has coordinated several important projects on regional development in Czech Republic, such as the Management of the “NGO Participation in Regional Development“ (financial assistance and support for NGOs participating in regional development activities, strengthening of partnership between NGOs and regional institutions and developing joint projects), „Towards participatory regional development“ (assistance in networking and capacity building for NGOs participating in development of programming documents, awareness raising). In 2015 member of the team of experts for the project PACT – Participation, Communication, Transparency – evaluation of the participative democracy in Czech Republic, and recommendations for the improvement. Membership in professional/voluntary organisations: Czech Governmental Council for Non-profit Organisations, member (1998-) and chairman of this council Committee for Regional Cooperation and Partnership (2006-2012), member of the council Committee for EU (2004-), EU platform for the Structural Funds and Sustainable Future, CEE CN, Central and Eastern Europe Citizens Network, NGOs, EU and non-EU platform for Participative Democracy (www.ceecn.net). Roman Haken has been member of the EESC since 2006. In EESC he was rapporteur or study group member of several opinions with the focus on local sustainable development (LEADER, CLLD) or participative democracy and partnership.

Lucy Hatton

Lucy HATTON, PhD Candidate at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick

Lucy Hatton is an ESRC doctoral researcher in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. Her doctoral thesis, titled 'Democratic Legitimacy and the European Citizens' Initiative: A recipe for disappointment and disaffection?', examines the question of what impact the ECI can be expected to have on the overall democratic legitimacy of the EU. It emphasises that, whilst the ECI has widely reported flaws that suggest it may have a negligible impact on the EU's democratic deficit, there is scope for significant, though unanticipated, positive impacts of the ECI on democratic participation at the local, national and European levels.

Mads Hvid

Mads HVID, ECI Fair Transport Europe Campaign Assistant

Mads Hvid is part of the team working on the Fair Transport Europe ECI, and as part of the campaign secretariat responsible for the preparation and coordination of national campaign activities across Europe. Working on a daily basis with the sponsor of the ECI, The European Transport Workers Federation (ETF), Mads Hvid is affiliated to the ETF via his employer Konsentio Public Affairs. Konsentio is a Brussels-based consultancy who is advising the ETF and the Citizens Committee behind Fair Transport Europe ECI.

Bruno Kaufmann

Bruno KAUFMANN, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe

Bruno has been following the development of the European Citizens Initiative since the early days in 1991, when he cofounded the "eurotopia"-networking originally raising and promoting the very idea of the ECI. Today Bruno serves as Chairman of the Democracy Council and Election Commission in Falun (Sweden) and co-chairs the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy (2016globalforum.com), which will take place in Donostia/San Sebastian November 16-19. Bruno Kaufmann is Editor-in-Chief of the global democracy news platform people2power.info hosted by the Swiss Broadcasting Company. He is the author and co-author of many publications related to participative democracy including the ECI Pocket GuideEuropean Passport to Active Citizenship and the EESC Guide to the ECI.

Assya Kavrakova

Assya KAVRAKOVA, Director of the European Citizen Action Service in Brussels

Ms. Assya Kavrakova is the Director of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), an international non-profit organization, based in Brussels, with a pan-European membership and 25 years of experience in EU citizens’ rights enforcement and civic participation in the EU decision-making process. Before joining ECAS, Ms. Kavrakova served as the Director of European Policies Program at the Open Society Institute (OSI-S) in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she was also leading the analytical and research activity of the European Policies Initiative. She personally authored the paper: “The Unfinished Business of the Fifth Enlargement Countries”. Assya Kavrakova has a Master’s degree in Law and another Master’s degree in European Studies. She has worked as a Public Policies and Outreach Director at the Democracy Network Program (DemNet) of the USAID. She was also the Executive Director of the Bulgarian branch of Transparency International. Assya Kavrakova is a German Marshall Memorial Fellow.

Elisa Lironi

Elisa LIRONI, Digital Democracy Coordinator at the European Citizen Action Service

Elisa Lironi is the Digital Democracy Coordinator for the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS). She develops and leads ECAS’ Digital Democracy agenda by monitoring EU affairs, publishing information and implementing projects on this focus area. She is currently managing the project Digital Ecosystem for E-Participation Linking Youth, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme. She also coordinates ECAS’ Support Centre on the European Citizens’ Initiative.

Antonio Longo

Antonio LONGO, member of the European Economic and Social Committee, rapporteur of the ECI opinion

Born in Trepuzzi in 1950, Antonio Longo graduated in political science, with a master degree in Communication Sociology. He is a professional journalist specialized on financial and economic issues. He was a counsellor of the European Economic Social Committee from 2010 to 2015 and appointed again until 2020 and is also a counsellor of the Consumers and Users National Council (CNCU). From 1998, he has been president of “Movimento Difesa del Cittadino”, consumers’ association acknowledged at the Italian Minister of Economic Development. Antonio is also a founder and president of the Italian E-Payment Coalition (IEPC), a project of four consumers' associations – Movimento Difesa del Cittadino, Cittadinanzattiva onlus, Confconsumatori e Assoutenti – aimed at raising the awareness of the citizen on the proper use of electronic money: in fact, the speed and the payment security, together with the possibility of buying anywhere and across multiple devices, are the basis of a sustainable economy. In the EESC, he is a member of the ECI ad hoc Group, currently working as a rapporteur of the ECI opinion.

Dr Andre MENACHE, organiser from the ECI Stop Vivisection

Born in Belgium, Andre Menache has been an active campaigner for the past 30 years mainly in South Africa, Israel and the UK. He has held various posts, including that of president of Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine (UK) and general manager of the Federation of Animal Protection Societies in Israel. Today he provides scientific support to several grass roots organisations, in addition to his official position as director of Antidote Europe, based in France. His expertise includes animal experiments and regulatory toxicology. However, his interests cover other issues as well. In addition to being co-organiser and speaker at several national and international congresses on animal experimentation, xenotransplantation, informed consent and vaccine damage compensation, he was instrumental in launching a Supreme Court Action that led to a ban on the force feeding of geese in Israel, then the world’s third largest exporter of foie gras (2006). Andre is listed in Who's Who in the World (19th edn.), Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare (Millennium edn.) and is a recipient of a 21st century award for achievement from the International Biographical Centre (Cambridge). View full profile.

Emily O'REILLY, European Ombudsman

Emily O'Reilly was elected as the European Ombudsman in July 2013 and took office on 1 October 2013. She was re-elected in December 2014 for a five year mandate. She is an author, former journalist and broadcaster who became Ireland's first female Ombudsman and Information Commissioner in 2003 and in 2007 she was also appointed Commissioner for Environmental Information. As former political editor, broadcaster and author, her career attracted significant domestic and international recognition including a Harvard University Fellowship in 1988 and multiple national awards. She has written three critically acclaimed books on Irish politics and media and is a current member of the International Advisory Board of Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Ms O'Reilly is a graduate of University College Dublin with a Degree in European Languages and Literature (1979) and holds a Graduate Diploma in Education from Trinity College Dublin (1980).

Dr James Organ

Dr James ORGAN, Lecturer in Law at the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool

James is a Lecturer at the School of Law and Social Justice at the University of Liverpool. The doctoral research for his PhD, which was completed in 2015, was on the legal framework for citizen participation through instruments of direct democracy, particularly the European Citizens Initiative and UK referenda. James continues to work in the area of EU participatory and direct democracy. He has published on the legal admissibility of European Citizen's Initiative proposals in the EU Constitutional law Review and in the publication An ECI that Works. James works closely with the ECI Campaign Group to support the implementation and development of the ECI, and he is co-organising a major conference titled 'Democratic Participation in a Citizen's Europe: What next for the EU?' with the ECI Campaign Group and The Democratic Society, which is to be held on May 5th 2016. Prior to starting his PhD James worked for over a decade for Citizens Advice and has an academic interest in the area of Access to Justice. He has an upcoming publication in an edited collection on the impact of legal aid and other funding cuts on the provision of legal advice in the Liverpool City Region.

Irini Pari

Irini Ivoni PARI, member of the European Economic and Social Committee, president of the ECI ad hoc Group

She is Permanent Delegate of SEV-Hellenic Federation of Enterprises in Brussels, Member of the Committee of Permanent Delegates of BUSINESSEUROPE–Confederation of European Business and Member of the European Social Dialogue Committee since 1995. Member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 1998 in the Group I – Employers. Currently she is President of the European Citizens’ Initiative Sub-Committee, Member of the Bureau of the European Migration Forum and Member of the Social and Economic Sections as well as of the Labour Market Observatory. She has been Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee responsible for Communication (2008-2010), Vice-President of the Employers’ Group (2006-2008), Vice-President of the Social Section (2004-2008) and President of the Immigration and Integration working group (2013-2015). She has worked as an Advisor in the European Commission at the Secretariat General and the Directorate General for Competition on State Aids (1988-1994). She studied Political Science and International Relations at University of Panteion in Athens and European Studies at Institut d’Etudes Européennes at ULB in Βrussels. Born in Kinshasa, she has two children.

Michael Smyth

Michael SMYTH, vice-president of the European Economic and Social Committee in charge of budget

Michael Smyth is a researcher at the Centre for Economic Forecasting of the London Business School from 1986 to 1987. He is a member of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Confederation of British Industry Northern Ireland since 1990 and a member of the Economic Strategy Committee of the Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland since 1998. He was Head of the School of Economics at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Northern Ireland from 2008 to 2013 and consultant for the European Commission on the Northern Ireland Community Support Framework, for Armagh District Council, for the Northern Ireland Assembly, for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister and for the Oireachtas. He is also President of Habinteg Housing Association, a large social housing provider in Northern Ireland and a member of the EESC Various Interests' Group since October 2006 and President of the ECO Section of the EESC from 2010 to 2013. At the EESC, Mr Smyth has been a Rapporteur on opinions such as an Investment plan for Europe, the Long-term financing of the European economy, and the Long-term shareholder engagement.

Lucy Swan

Lucy SWAN, ECI Team Member, Secretariat-General of the European Commission

Lucy Swan has worked on the ECI within the European Commission since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 and has contributed to the setting up of the instrument. She has been an official of the European Commission since 2004 and, aside from her current post in the Secretariat General, she has worked on inter-institutional relations in the Cabinet of Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and on International Environmental Agreements in DG Environment. Prior to entering the Commission she worked in the European Parliament and in the Council of European Municipalities and Regions.

Janice Thomson

Janice THOMSON, The ECI Campaign

Janice Thomson is a core team member of The ECI Campaign and co-editor of An ECI That Works! She promotes meaningful public involvement at all levels of government as a researcher, writer, facilitator, consultant and network weaver. She holds dual EU and US citizenship and promotes civic engagement on both continents.

Luc Van Den Brande

Luc VAN DEN BRANDE, member of the Committee of the Regions, special adviser to the President of the European Commission for “The outreach towards the citizens”

Mr Van Den Brande has been member of the EU Committee of the Regions and its vice-president since 1994. He is special adviser to the President of the European Commission M. Jean-Claude Juncker for “The outreach towards the citizens”. Mr Van den Brande is currently chairman of the Flanders-Europe Liaison Agency (VLEVA), chairman of the Board of the Flanders Public Broadcasting Company (VRT) and chairman of Flanders Technology/ Technopolis. In the years 2008-2010 he presided over the Committee of the Regions. He holds a doctoral degree in Law and License of Notary (University of Leuven). Previously, he worked as a lawyer (1970-1988), professor on political institutions at the University of Leuven (2000-2005) and held several political functions as a member of the Belgian House of Representatives (1977-2009), Federal Minister of Employment and Labour (1988-1992), Minister-President of the Flanders Government (1992- 1999), Member and President of the EPP/CD Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2001- 2009) and of the Benelux Parliamentary Assembly (2000- 2008). He was also a special adviser to the European Commission (Commissioner J. Hahn) for multi-level governance, cohesion policy and Europe2020 (2010-2013).

Sophie von Hatzfeldt

Sophie VON HATZFELDT, European Programme Manager at Democracy International, the ECI Support Centre

Sophie von Hatzfeldt leads Democracy International’s projects on democracy and participation at European level. Her themes cover institutional democratic reform, citizen participation processes, transparency and online participation tools. She coordinates the advocacy and campaign activities on the European Citizens’ Initiative and the revision of the ECI regulation. Democracy International led a coalition of 110 organisations and 41 MEPs during the Convention on the Future of Europe to push for the birth of the ECI, and co-founded the ECI Support Centre.

Ruby Waterworth

Ruby WATERWORTH, organiser from the "Right2Water" ECI

Ruby Livings Waterworth is responsible for Communications and Campaigns at European Public Service Union (EPSU), which led the first ever successful European Citizen's Initiative 'Right2Water'. She has been at EPSU since December 2015 and is committed to compelling the European Commission to implement the human right to water, so demonstrating that ECI is an effective democratic tool. She was born in the UK, is a graduate of History and is a lifelong campaigner. Ruby has previously worked as assistant to MEPs in the European Parliament, for a social innovation think tank and on a journalistic campaign against privatisation of the NHS in England.