Domov | DOCPIE | PROJECT "Democratic ...

PROJECT "Democratic Ownership and Civic Participation in Europe" - DOCPIE

 According to a recent studies, the European Elections turnout rate has dropped by 9 points in 30 years.  A public opinion service of the European Commission (Eurobarometer), released in 2014, showed even more alarming trends - sixty percent of Europeans "tended not to trust the EU" and even more respondent, sixty-seven percent of them, considered that their voice does not count in the EU.

In the recent years European institutions brought to force important measures to engage citizens in the decision making process. On 1 December 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force. It provides the Union with the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens' demands. The treaty was designed to ensure a more democratic and transparent Europe with a strengthened role for the European Parliament,  effective and efficient decision-making process with a stronger voice for citizens. New instrument, the European citizens' initiative, allows one million EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies. Despite the effort of the EU institutions, the latest results of the European Parliament elections indicate, that the mistrust and the gap between the Union and the citizens is growing wider each year. European Union is, paradoxically, at this very moment facing some major issues, such as further development of the political and banking union, economic growth and strengthening the EU role in the world. To address this issues democratically, Union needs its citizens to actively participate in the discussions about the above mentioned projects. Without the the voice of its citizens, democratic development of the European Union is not possible.

Spirit of this time is not in favour humanism. Lack of civic bonding among the citizens and towards EU is a growing trend which has been invigorated by the economic and financial crisis and is currently embodied in the increasing mistrust for EU policies, strategies and actions. Due to negative effects of the crisis, over 5 million young people are unemployed, social welfare state is on the verge of collapse and traditional value system is endangered. Current data on political trends show a rise of extreme-right movements and marginalization of vulnerable social groups, such as homosexuals and migrants. Since they don't contribute directly to the economic growth, there are numerous cases where intellectuals and culture professionals are being stigmatized.  It has become clear, that even the core values of the European union (human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human right) are to some extent threatened by the economic and financial crisis.

Project DOCPIE - Democratic Ownership and Civic Participation in Europe is financed through European union programme “Europe for citizens”, which provide support for innovative projects that foster European citizenship and improve conditions for civic and democratic participation at EU level. DOCPIE brings together 15 organizations from 13 member States in 4 events and aims to research the current trends and views on EU and its future in diverse target groups, including students and senior citizens, develop guidelines for the creation of ownership of EU identity and citizenship, raise awareness on active citizenship and volunteering and create bridges of cooperation between the participating towns in order to enhance the idea of a common European identity and integration, while remembering our common past. The main goal of the project is to empower members of the civil society and non-governmental organizations with knowledge and experience to make European union a better place to live.

During the European union Week 2015, from 8th to 10th of May, the first public DOCPIE event will take place in German town of Dresden. Representatives of all 13 countries will come together at the “Volunteer academy” to attend presentations, workshops and discussions on the role of volunteering and EU initiative “European voluntary service” for development of active European citizenship. Visit to the city of Dresden will provide good opportunity to remember the common European past. During the final month of the 2. world war, city was completely destroyed by allied bombers as a part of the retaliation attacks against Nazi army. According to the historians, some 25.000 civilians were killed and buried under the ruins of the city buildings.

Presentations, workshops and discussions will also take place in three other European towns and cities. Next stop of the DOCPIE project is Greek city Serres. From 30th to 2nd of July city will host activities to foster regional integration and cooperation. Slovenian capital Ljubljana and the home town of the lead partner LAZ Šmartno pri Litiji will welcome international guest on the event "civil society open university", which will take place on 24th of September. Italian city of Brescia with the support of University of Brescia will organize the last in the series of events. On 8th and 9th of October Brescia will host lively discussions on the importance of the smar ageing and civic participation in democratic procedures in the third period of life.

Participants of the events will deepen their knowledge about European Union institutions, they will get familiar with the instruments that enables them to actively engage in the decision making process on the EU level as well as with the concept of EU citizenship and its derived rights. They will also discuss possibilities of cross border and international cooperation among the citizens and institutions from different European Union countries. Exchange of the ideas, inter-cultural dialogue and mobilization of the groups, that traditionally are far from the centres of power and control, are some of the cornerstones of DOCPIE project. Event organizers will take special care to bring together young and elderly citizens, women, ethnic and other minorities, migrants and representatives of the non-governmental organizations, which may not be aware of the possibilities  to influence the adoption of the EU strategies and politics.

 Publications about the European Union and its policies will be available at all events in Kiosk Europe. A special “Europe kids' corner” resource desk will target the youngest audience with information on the general and specific information of the EU's aim to promote its values and the well-being of its people, as well as common history, cultural and linguistic diversity of the European nations. A series of organized trips to history monuments, museums and art exhibitions will share a different light on common European history and rich diversity of the continent. It is worth mentioning, that bloodbath of the Second world war inspired French economist and diplomat Jean Monnet to publicly reveal his idea about peaceful coexistence of the nations and is widely recognized as a father of the European Union.

One of the main goals of the project is to equip people and organization with additional knowledge about the democratic instruments and active participation in the European union. This will enable them to help European institutions in preparation and implementation of the policies, strategies and legislation, tailored to the needs of European citizens. Participants will benefit on the following levels:

  •  extend the knowledge about European Union and its policies

 To actively participate, we need to have a good knowledge about the system, in which people and organizations tend to work. Every event and support action is organized in a way, that will expand the participants knowledge about the EU. As a citizen of the EU, we have many political rights. One of them is active participation in democratic development of the Union. We already mentioned European citizens initiative, but there are other instruments to. European citizens can send a petition to the European Parliament or take part in the variety of consultations in discussions about EU policies and about the future of EU. 

  •  active citizenship on multiple levels

Active citizenship is all about connecting people on different levels of society: in your local community, in the town or in the city, in your region or among national states, groups of youth or elderly people … Project activities will motivate different target groups to get involved in the decision making process on in their home town and on the EU level.

  •  creation of European identity in inclusive and cooperative societies

Only if we learn from our past, Europeans can build the common and peaceful future of our continent. Event participants will have the opportunity to learn about common cultural and historical heritage. Formal and informal meetings are invaluable for strengthening the existing ties among the people and create some new ones. Such project can generate many positive cultural and economic exchange as well as better cooperation of NGOs from European countries.

DOCPIE project will end in October 2015. Conclusions of the activities will be summarized and published in a booklet which will be distributed to relevant organizations in the participating countries. Organizers will also conduct an on-line survey which will result in an initiative for more productive and easier citizens access to the European Union decision-making process.

 DOCPIE partner organizations will acquire useful knowledge and expand the network of European organizations they can cooperate with, while DOCPIE coordinator, Društvo Laz, will gain some international visibility as well as make some contacts for further cooperation in the EU programmes.  

 Information about DOCPIE project, event schedules, attendance information and the outcomes of the project, will be published on  web sites and FB.