Christophe Lefèvre, president of the ECI ad-hoc Group at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
Christophe Lefèvre, president of the EESC's ECI ad-hoc Group, is professional active in the Insurance sector, and he is a member of the EESC Workers' Group in the sections Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT) and Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO). He is the National Secretary of the French Confederation of Management - General Confederation of Executives (CFE-CGC), in charge for the European and international affairs, vice-president of the European Managers' Confederation (CEC) and vice-president of the International Federation of Executives (CIC). He is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD.
Laura Sullivan, executive director at WeMove.EU
Based in Brussels, Laura joined WeMove.EU as Executive Director in October 2018. A campaigner for social and environmental justice for almost two decades, she began her career at the European Parliament, working on the impacts of EU development and environment policies on people. In 2005, she completed an MA in Governance and Development specialising in civil society democratic participation. She then spent two years with Education International, working in communications and campaign. Over the following 10 years, Laura worked for ActionAid International, first managing their campaigns in Europe and then as Regional Director for Europe and the Americas, representing the organisation externally and building organisational development internally. In 2012 she was seconded to ActionAid Senegal as the interim Country Director. Throughout this time, Laura served as a member of different Boards: the Board of ActionAid France, ActionAid Brazil and as Vice President to the Board of Concord, the Confederation of Development and Relief NGOs in Europe. Her main expertise lies in 3 areas: systemic change thinking for NGOs, feminist leadership and EU institutions. She is part of a local movement called WeBrussels, which in turn is part of the Fearless Cities global municipalist network. She also runs a group called Systemic Change Brussels bringing together activists and change agents working at the local and EU levels. Laura enjoys working with organisations that seek to transform themselves, as well as the world. She has a passion for all things related to music, language and justice.
Frans TIMMERMANS, Vice-President, European Commission
Frans Timmermans began his career with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1987. After taking part in the junior diplomat training programme, he worked at the European Integration Department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Moscow. He later worked for Hans van den Broek, European Commissioner for External Relations, and Max van der Stoel, High Commissioner on National Minorities for the OSCE.
In 1998, Frans Timmermans was elected as a member of the House of Representatives for the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), where he dealt principally with foreign affairs. In the fourth Balkenende government, from February 2007 to February 2010, Mr Timmermans was Minister for European Affairs. In 2010, Mr Timmermans returned to Parliament as the Labour Party's spokesperson on foreign policy.
On 5 November 2012, Mr Timmermans became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the second Rutte government. Two years later, on 1 November 2014, he became First Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for better regulation, interinstitutional relations, sustainable development, the rule of law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Bruno Kaufmann, Global Democracy Correspondent at the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation
Bruno Kaufmann studied Eastern European History, Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies at Zurich, Hawaii, Uppsala and Gothenburg University, from where he holds an MA in Social Sciences. In his Swedish home town of Falun he was a member of the City Executive government branch for many years and chaired the Department of Democracy and Elections. Bruno has published many books on and around Modern Direct Democracy including the Guidebook to Modern Direct Democracy in Switzerland and beyond and the Global Passport to Modern Direct Democracy.
He is the Co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy as well as the Director for International Cooperation at the Swiss Democracy Foundation. He is a research fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion of the Arizona State University and International Advisor to the Korea Democracy Foundation. Bruno Kaufmann was also the co-founder of the European democracy movement eurotopia, which in 1991 as the first NGO made a concrete proposal for a European Citizens´ Initiative process.
Tony Simpson, representative of the ECI "Permanent European Union Citizenship"
Tony Simpson has Irish and British nationality. In 1980, after studies at Oxford University, he joined the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation to work on European Nuclear Disarmament. He assisted Ken Coates for ten years to 1999 while Mr Coates was a Member of the European Parliament. Tony edits The Spokesman, which is the journal of the Russell Foundation. He is the representative of two successive European Citizens’ Initiatives entitled ‘Retaining European Citizenship’ and ‘Permanent EU Citizenship'.
Michael Laubsch, representative of the ECI "Stop Extremism"
Michael Laubsch earned an M.A. in Political Science, Eastern European History and Philosophy from Bonn University. After his academic degree, he became foreign affairs advisor at the German Parliament on Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine). Human rights, freedom of press, the transition process in Eastern Europe and Central Asia were and are are of main concern for him, even after he became an independent political PR consultant and director of an international NGO, cooperating with European and international institutions on Central Asian political topics. He was also lecturer for political PR and Campaigning at the Economic College Zurich, Switzerland.
Since 2018, Michael is coordinating the public work of the European Citizens’ Initiative STOP EXTREMISM together with the speakers of the campaign.
László Szabó, representative of the ECI "STOP FRAUD and abuse of EU FUNDS"
Holds an engineering and economics degree and an MBA. Worked in financial institutions, leasing companies as finance, IT and project director and auditor and IT and catering firms as head of finance, accounting and IT. Also has experience in EU budget, control and data protection. Special areas were localisation and implementation of administration software, process and project management. Lectured in finance and accounting, wrote articles and a textbook on finance, investment and banking.
Assya Kavrakova, Executive Director of the European Citizen Action Service
Assya Kavrakova is the Executive Director of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) - http://www.ecas.org/ - an international non-profit organization, based in Brussels, with a pan-European membership and 28 years of experience in EU citizens’ rights enforcement and civic participation in the EU decision-making process. She is also a member of the Stakeholder group of the REFIT Platform for Better Regulation and the project manager of the online collaborative platform “European Citizens’ Initiative Forum” – a pilot project operated by a consortium of three organisations – ESN, ECAS and CARSA – on behalf of and under contract to the European Commission.
Ms Kavrakova has more than twenty years of experience in senior management positions in the non-governmental sector including skills to manage diverse portfolios of projects and activities, excellent leading ability to manage international teams of experts and NGOs to ensure timely delivery of project outputs and outcomes and in-depth knowledge of EU Funding Rules and Procedures, European Citizenship, European Rights Framework, EU civic participation formal and informal mechanisms.
Thomas Eitzenberger, OpenECI software developer
Thomas Eitzenberger studied technical physics at the university in Graz, Austria. Currently freelancer for software quality assurance and software development. Longtime eco activist working as core team member of End Ecocide on Earth for a reform of the ICC at The hague to include the crime of ecocide. Supporter of Fridays For Future and Scientists for Future. Implemented openECI the successfull alternative to the commissions OCS.
openECI was implemented in les sthan a year with far less costs but provides more and better targeted features. Thomas loves to do TaiChi and participating in inspiring projects that honor the principles of Dragon Dreaming and appreciation. Thomas fears that there is no more lifeworthy planet left for his children to live on.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming-EU
Olga Kikou is Head of Compassion in World Farming-EU, an international organisation with offices and representations in nine European countries, the US, China and South Africa, dedicated to improving farm animal welfare, ending industrial animal agriculture and achieving sustainable food and farming. Born and raised in Athens, Olga lived in the U.S. for a number of years where she became involved in animal advocacy. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts and worked in international organisations in the non-profit sector and in research and planning. Having managed the Volunteer Programme for the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games, she became involved in raising awareness on the importance of citizen participation. Olga is currently involved in advocacy work, lobbying the EU Institutions at high level on key EU interests concerning the interlinked areas of farm animal welfare, food and farming, and raising the profile of these issues on the policy making agenda and keeping them there. She also engages with civil society organizations and other stakeholders, exploring synergies and developing joint strategies to influence policy in the above areas. She is the substitute representative in the Citizens Committee of the End The Cage Age ECI.
Dénes András Nagy, Policy Advisor at the Federal Union of European Nationalities for the ECI "Minority SafePack"
Dénes András Nagy is a Hungarian Civic Technologist and Europeanist. Dénes is a Policy Advisor on Minority SafePack at the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN). Founded in Paris during 1949, FUEN is the largest umbrella organisation of autochthonous communities, national minorities and ethnic groups in Europe. Representing 100 member organisations in 35 European countries, FUEN advocates in the interest of European minorities on the regional, national and in particular on the European level. Dénes is a proud member of two autochthonous communities native to East Central Europe: the Germanic-Hungarian nationality of Hungary and is of Székely-Hungarian descent.
The Minority SafePack Initiative (MSPI) is a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) launched by FUEN in 2017. MSPI is a coherent set of 9 legislative proposals aiming to establish an EU Minority Rights Framework. In 2018, MSPI became the 5th successful ECI in EU history. Altogether, 1,128,385 validated statements of support were collected from EU Member State citizens, who helped pass the signature threshold in 11 countries. Dénes worked on the pan-European digital campaign, aimed at collecting online signatures from potential supporters across the EU. Further, he designed and implemented effective campaign strategies in Austria and Lithuania. Currently, he is responsible for
the advocacy of MSPI in Lithuania and Poland.
Beyond his duties on MSPI at FUEN, Dénes is the President of Talos (www.talos.eu) an online platform that empowers EU Member State citizens to launch and support grassroots civic initiatives aimed at reforming the EU. Dénes studied BA History, Politics and Economics at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies.
Jim Dratwa, Head of EU Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, European Commission
Jim’s research addresses the interconnections between knowledge, values and action. He has served in several positions of great responsibility in that regard at the European Commission, as member of BEPA (the Bureau of European Policy Advisers to the President), at the EPSC (the European Political Strategy Centre) and in the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. He heads the team tasked with Ethics in Science and New Technologies at the European Commission, he is the Secretary-General of the EC International Dialogue on Ethics and Bioethics, and is the EC representative in the international organisations dealing with the ethical implications of science and technology (UN, Council of Europe, OECD).
He is engaged in service to the community as well as academic and international public administration activities. His involvement as facilitator and convenor also extends to the voluntary sector, in particular in inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, social justice and peace building, locally as well as internationally. His life to date has been about probing far-reaching questions and cultivating public debate and collective intelligence, bringing people together in a situation where they are able to learn from each other and to carry out changes that matter.
Jim holds degrees in physics, philosophy, politics and the life sciences, received the Fulbright Scholar Award, was Harvard Boas Fellow, Ramón y Cajal Scholar, and was pre- and post-doctoral Fellow at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and with the program on Science, Technology, and Society. He has taught at the Ecole des Mines de Paris, Sciences Po Paris, Harvard University, and the universities of Brussels, where he is currently based. He is also Invited Professor of Science and Technology Studies and a Distinguished Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC.
Maarten de Groot, European Programme Officer at Democracy International
Maarten de Groot is European Programme Officer at Democracy International since January 2019. Democracy International is a politically independent organisation aiming to strengthen direct democracy and citizen participation at the local, national and transnational level across the globe. Previously, Maarten worked as Campaign Coordinator for The ECI Campaign on the revision of the ECI regulation (November 2017 - December 2018) and he was Vice-President & External Relations Director in the 2016-2017 international board of AEGEE / European Students' Forum. Additionally, Maarten is a board member of the European Civic Forum. Maarten has a background in political philosophy and his main passion is the fight for democracy across borders.
Toñi Vázquez, Activist for housing rights in the PAH, representative of the ECI "Housing for All"
I have been an activist for housing rights in the PAH - Stop Evictions (Platform of People Affected by Mortgages) since 2013, and affected by the fraudulent mortgages in Spain since 2007. In the PAH I participate in various commissions such as the International Commission, the Communication Commission, the Fraud Documentation Commission and Monitoring UN CESCR Resolution Commission. I actively take part in the weekly PAH assemblies in my hometown.
I have being an international development project manager, mainly in Mozambique- Africa, where I have managed different projects at the local orphanage and the communities around Inhambane area. One of the last project was to build three wells to supply clean water to the surrounding communities.
At the academic level, I am a software engineer with a Master in Electronics and Computing.
Annija Emersone, Organisation ManaBalss, Board Member, Latvia
As an active citizen myself, I have enjoyed working with people, who are challenging the world we live in, making it a better place every single day. Social mindfulness has been the main driver and motivator for my work in the non-profit sector.
Maija Setälä, Professor in Political Science at the University of Turku, Finland
Maija Setälä received her PhD at the London School of Economics in 1997. She specialises in democratic theory, especially theories of deliberative democracy, direct democracy and democratic innovations. Setälä has published a number of books and articles on these topics. Currently, she is on a research leave and leads a project entitled “Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making”, funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland.
Dr James ORGAN, lecturer at the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool
He works and researches in the area of EU participatory democracy, particularly the European Citizens Initiative. Recent publications include EU Citizen Participation, Openness and the European Citizens Initiative: The TTIP legacy in the Common Market Law Review, and an edited collection titled ''Democratic Participation in a Citizen’s Europe: What Next for the EU?' is due out later this year. James has recently worked as special adviser to the EESC for their opinion on the ECI legislative revision. James also works extensively with civil society organisations in the area of participatory democracy. He is currently leading a ‘Europe for Citizens’ funded project to hold a citizens assembly on the future of EU democratic participation made up of mini publics in four EU member states and online deliberation through partnership with WeMove, and concluding with a conference in Liverpool in December 2018 presenting learning from the project and citizen participation experiences across the EU. He has recently concluded a ‘Europe for Citizens’ funded project that included a citizens assembly on the future of EU democratic participation in four EU member states, and online deliberation through partnership with WeMove.org.