A Perspective on ECI Reform and Engagement Tactics Targeting Young Europeans
Youth Disengagement with EU Politics is growing at an increasing rate. As citizens constitute the core of a functioning democratic system and the Youth of any society an important part to engage, it is of crucial importance for the future of the EU to reach out and engage the Youth in European politics. In order to tackle this problem, this proposal sets out two different strategies. First, current tools of citizen engagement, such as the European Citizen Initiative (ECI) need to be reformed. We have identified the following areas to which attention ought to be paid: (a) the consideration and proceedings for successful ECIs; (b) the accessibility of the ECI as a tool; (c) the reconsideration of the restrictive time-frame; (d) the assistance provided by the Commission for ECI organizers. Second, and in order for these tools to be used, the Youth needs to be mobilized to be interested and engage in EU Politics. This proposal sets out that such aim can be achieved by a) initiating a Website Design Competition to improve the ECI Website and create awareness; b) Social Media Campaign and the creation of a Database Website; and c) Means of Direct Engagement such as a European Summer School or the EU-matter Network.
Digital Integration of the Public Sector
The transition to a digital society will not only change the way we live and work but also the way citizens and governments will engage with each other. Indeed, e-governance does not only have the power to bring benefits to the public sector in terms of better resource management, greater efficiency, better transparency and more agility, but can also benefit citizens in building a stronger connection with their government (EESC, 2017). The European Union has the responsibility and power to facilitate and encourage a right transition to this digital society. Hence, this proposal drafts policy recommendation to the European Commission in order to better address two aspects of e-governance.
The first part of this recommendation is based on the observation that while digital tools for the support of public administrations are being installed in all Member States of the European Union, policy makers have underestimated the readiness of use of citizens and public servants. Hence, we propose ways to improve online public services by involving citizens in the creation and testing of digital public services, enhancing digital skills of civil servants, promoting collaboration amongst citizens when using digital services and raising awareness about the existence of the eID and digital public services.
On the other hand, this proposal also aims at investigating ways to enhance democracy through means of digitalization by upholding transparency and accountability, increasing digital literacy and enhancing EU citizens’ political participation deliberative capabilities. More specifically, it suggests the implementation of an open access platform aiming at bringing citizens and governments closer together by means of transferable information and data.
On the one hand, we have observed a gap between the development of digital public services and the readiness of citizens and civil servants regarding their actual use. On the other, we believe that e-governance has the potential to enhance citizen engagement and democracy if tackled correctly. Hence, we are investigating the following two questions:
- How to shape society and public administrations for a better use of digital public services?
- How to enhance citizens’ participation and engagement with governments trough means of digitalization?
Towards a circular EU
The problem statement formulated in this policy brief is: How can the amount of food waste produced in the European Union be significantly reduced.
After analysing the complexity of the issue, the working group has agreed on three ideas that approach the problem and try to address it since the preventive stage. We propose a Flexible Member State Approach, the creation of an EU-wide app and awareness campaign.
Flexible Member State Approach
We suggest the European Commission to make the SDG goal 12.3 on food waste mandatory for all Member States and introduce a new, legally binding goal of 70% reduction at the consumption level. To achieve this, we recommend a flexible approach for Member States. We furthermore propose considering pre-harvest food waste by including a tenth goal ‘Cutting Food Waste at Harvest Stage’ in the CAP policy after 2020 and establishing a common framework methodology for pre-harvest food waste.
We recommend the European Commission to create an EU app that incorporates the objectives of the sub-group established under the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste to support EU activities in relation to date marking and food waste prevention. This multi-purpose app would, among others, entail a new barcode system and easy-to-use information and awareness raising tools.
We propose the European Commission to focus on reducing food waste at the consumer level with EU-wide awareness campaign. It includes three different approaches: raising awareness in social media and public transport, launching an EU-wide social media challenge and school competition.
Gender Equality, Roma and LGBT+ Rights in Serbia and Turkey
o The ultimate goal behind this policy brief is to strengthen the EU’s core values – which includes the protection of human and minority rights in particular – in the Enlargement Process. That way, the EU can enlarge in a manner that protects its fundamental values and the rights of its citizens, no matter what gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
o While the EU has developed a protective framework for minority rights, a high level of discrimination against women, Roma and LGBT+ communities persist in candidate countries such as Serbia and Turkey.
o In order to further strengthen the EU’s efforts in protecting minority rights in candidate countries, we suggest several policy options to prevent further discrimination of marginalized groups at the political and societal level.
o The first concern is to ensure the implementation of protective laws to combat discrimination in the target country. Therefore, the EU should create a task force that closely scrutinizes implementation records, redirect funds in case of dissatisfactory results as a financial incentive and strengthen civil society mechanisms to provide free legal support for minorities.
o Second, in order to tackle prevailing prejudices against minorities at the societal level, we suggest to enhance cultural awareness by extending Erasmus+ to the high school level. Moreover, safe spaces should be extended for discriminated people to drop in, share their experience and feel protected.
o Thirdly, civil society mechanisms need to be strengthened in their educational and institutional capacities in order to spread awareness on minority issues in their respective countries.