A new pact for Europe: public debate in Leeuwarden about the future of citizens in Europe, towards a European “Mienskip”

New+Pact_23+AprilThe European Cultural Foundation has organised a very important event.

It is the public debate about the future of citizens in Europe, towards a European “Mienskip”, that means “Community” in the Frisian language.

Actually the event will take place in the Netherlands, to be more precise it will be hosted at the Blokhuispoort of the city of Leeuwarden – that will be European capital of culture in 2018 – from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., on April the 23rd.

Among the scheduled speakers there will be LabGov’s coordinator, professor Christian Iaione, who will be interviewed with Matthew Fox from Engage LiverpoolCarmen Lozano Bright from the spanish Peer to Peer Movement and Wim Hiemstra from the local Kening fan de Greide. The four will share local examples, their methodology and actions on how to connect citizens and local governments.

That is basically what LabGov has done in the last years in some Italian municipalities.

With no doubts, professor Iaione will illustrate to the audience two projects that have already reached an international echo and have been appreciated by international Commons activists such as Michel Bauwens and David Bollier, here and here.

I am talking about the work that has been conducted in Bologna, on the Bologna’s regulation for the care and regeneration of Urban Commons, that has been also translated into english.

Secondly, the audience and the other speakers will have the opportunity to better understand what has been made in Mantova, where the local administration, together with the local Chamber of Commerce, decided to make the city a prototype for the network of the co-cities. Co-Mantova was born last year and hopefully other Italian cities will follow its example.

These two main ideas were born from the greater project on the City as a commons”, whose paper was presented in 2012 during the second thematic conference of the IASC, entitled Design and Dynamics of Institutions for Collective Action: A Tribute to Prof. Elinor Ostrom” and downloadable here.

To put into contact different personalities from all over the European Union that are studying and working on the commons and who believe that traditional power structures are changing, it is an incredible, huge and unique opportunity to build a “New Pact for Europe”, that is also the name of the project launched by a transnational consortium of foundations, including the ECF, and in partnership with the European Policy Centre.

Coming back to the Leeuwarden’s debate, besides the interview, the programme is composed of a welcome and opening remarks by Katherine Watson, ECF director, and Ferd Crone, mayor of Leeuwarden, followed by an introduction of the evening by Lennart Booji who will moderate and conclude the debate.

Silke Helfrich will be the keynote speaker, who will talk about societal an political challenges in Europe regarding regional development, culture and economy, considering where and how communities are taking matters into their own hands. She will also talk about a needed and real cultural paradigm shift in order to make the 21st century as the co-century of the commons.

After the time dedicated to the interviews to professor Iaione, Matthew Fox, Carmen Lozano Bright and Wim Hiemstra, it will be time for a reflection by Teun van de Keuken, journalist, columnist and producer.

In conclusion, Agnes Jongerius, European MP, Pascal Gielen, Professor of Sociology in Art and Cultural Politic at the Rijksuniversiteit of Groningen and Bouwe de Boer, Policy-maker energy in Leeuwarden will debate about connections between citizens and politicians at European level.

According to the information materials provided by the organisers, the goals of the debate are:

  • Raise civic and political awareness of shifting roles, responsibilities, and opportunities for involving citizens in the exercise of democracy from the local to the European level.
  • Share inspiring examples from across sectors (economic, social, ecological and cultural) that put collective imagination into political practice.
  • Work towards concrete recommendations of citizen and social cooperation in Europe.

Furthermore, the following questions will be discussed during the debate:

  • What are the concerns or challenges in society on local level in Europe, where communities are taking matters into their own hands – regarding ecology, culture public spaces, management of cities, energy and economy?
  •  What are new collaborative initiatives – methods, models or tools – of participation in governance and economy to tackle these concerns? And how to apply them in a region as Leeuwarden?
  • What can the EU do regarding these social challenges and shifting responsibilities: how to involve citizens in different ways in policymaking? How to re-balance responsibilities between government, market and citizens? What are necessary steps/recommendations from both citizens and government to realise more participation regarding regional development, culture and economy?