Where we are with the construction of the paneuropean citizens movement of popular initiative [Activity Report]

This is the Activity Report presented by Virginia Fiume, coordinator of EUMANS, during the Assembly of EUMANS Members held on 8 December 2020. Click here to take part in the next Assembly and join EUMANS as a member

We called for this Assembly of EUMANS members with a deadline in mind and with a key question for all of us.

The deadline is the EUMANS Constituent Assembly to be held before June 2021.

The question is “How”? How can we make the EUMANS Constituent Assembly in June 2021 the opportunity to gather European citizens  from across the four corners of this “stalling” European Union who still believe that change in the direction of democracy and sustainability can be brought about through the activation of institutional instruments of participatory democracy and other forms of direct action. How can we become “the space of political hope” and the instrument to unlock the stalling of political decision-making processes at a transnational level.

In June 2021 EUMANS will be 2 years old.

In June 2019 we launched the idea of a movement of European Citizens for sustainability and rule of law. We analysed and discussed how sortition-based citizens’ assemblies were a fundamental injection to revitalise democratic institutions, both at a National and Transnational level.

Exactly 12 months ago, on the 13th of December 2019 we were in Bruxelles, inside the four walls of the European Social and Economic Committee, discussing the need for  a set of policy reforms for the Environment, a Civic Artificial Intelligence, the guarantee of fundamental rights, as well as the challenges of the activation of participatory democracy instruments.
Exactly 12 months ago, the European Citizens Initiatives for the rule of law (formyrights.eu) and for carbon pricing in the EU (stopglobalwarming.eu) had just been launched with fewer than 1,000 signatures collected on each of them. (oppure we launched)

We seemed a bit crazy: why launch the European Citizens Initiatives in a scenario, the EU scenario, where collecting 1 million of signatures is a task that can only be achieved with a budget of around 1M Euros.  Why launch the European Citizens Initiatives if fewer and fewer civil society organisations and NGOs feel confident in committing publicly to the adoption of this instrument?

We did it - screwing up our courage - because that is the “business card of EUMANS”: a deep trust in the functioning of the democratic institutions, the awareness that it is only through the use of official instruments of participatory democracy that institutions can be reinvigorated and other European citizens can feel part of a movement that aims for real change and not the growth of its own brand.

We were in Brusselsone year ago and we had:

  • an informal community of activists with no statute and no formal registration system
  • a very limited knowledge of the instruments of participatory democracy - we invited experts to explain the challenge and opportunities of European Citizens Initiatives
  • a general idea of a “package of Petitions to the European Parliament” to start and “hook” some proposals within the EU Framework on the topics of sustainability, technological innovation, fundamental and civil rights 

  • a group of Italians that met every Tuesday - in Italian - to organise an event in English in Brussels 

What I want to highlight in these remarks is what we are and have now - thanks to an extraordinary “activist” effort.

There are three main lines of action we should use to open up our debate tonight:

1) The strength of StopGlobalWarming.eu

2) The relevance and sparkle effect of the Council On Participatory Democracy and its uniqueness in combining the relevance of the political issues and the innovation of the participatory democracy instruments

3) The evolution of our own instruments, starting from the Statute to the “technological stack” we are developing to allow greater collaboration among activists

Let’s start with StopGlobalWarming.eu
We have collected 47,000 signatures so far. Way fewer the 1,000,000 signatures????. Just 30,000 signatures fewer than the signatures collected by the Fridays For Future European Citizens Initiative.
There is one thing that we have in common with the FFF ECI: we both operated in conditions of “obscurity”. Almost no mass media coverage, no institutional public service of communication - a part what we have been able to do with the Municipalities and Regions we involved in the promotion of the European Citizens Initiative.

The network of Supporters of StopGlobalWarming.eu is a treasure in terms of political results.
Next Saturday Marco Cappato will chair a 2-hour event with the current President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, 2 former UN Human Rights Commissioners (one of those, Flavia Pansieri, who is also one of the first members of EUMANS).

If you look at the dedicated pages on the website displaying the supporters of StopGlobalWarming.eu you don’t see a usual list of “organisation banners”: you see a list of people from all walks of political and social life, who committed some of their time to the campaign.

  • 2 former UN Commissioners
  • 3 former EU Commissioners
  • 24 Mayors
  • Around 25 MPs from France, Germany, Belgium and Italy
  • 8 Members of the European Parliament (from the Greens, to S&D to Renew - in what looks like an ecological and economic political alliance)
  • At least 8 companies and startups
  • Hundreds of artists and intellectuals 

On 23September this year Marco Cappato had a one-to-one conversation with one of the most recognizable figures of the European public and political sphere, Yannis Varoufakis, on the merit of our proposals on carbon pricing.

Mogens Lyyktoft, the former ministry of finance in Denmark, and the man who led the UN General Assembly during the Paris Agreement, together with Marco Cappato, is fronting StopGlobalWarming.eu.

In terms of activism, our Italian front, where everything started, is taking shape of a real movement:

  • more than 8 municipalities adopted our local motion that combines sustaining to carbon pricing with the commitment to inform citizens about their participation rights
  • on 12thDecember - as part of the celebration of the Paris Agreement - there will be more than 15 signature collection points in the NaturaSi shops
  • our activists curated a list of over 3,000 meaningful contacts across the EU of potential partners (individuals and organisations)
  • during the summer we reached thousands of people with our “Webanketto” format, creating new forms of digital activism that can solidify the networks and create unique opportunities of transnational activism leveraging new technologies
  • we are now cooperating with Eleonora Evi (Former Movimento 5 Stelle, now Green) to verify the activation for one of the very first times in the history of the European Parliament of a Resolution of Initiative for a carbon pricing proposal.

And what about the Council On Participatory Democracy?

This instrument we invented,which is now part of our statute, was the spark for some historic initiatives during the first wave of the pandemic.

On one hand, the Conference on the Future of Europe. A potentially great moment for European Democracy which is held hostage by the usual European stalling and the contraction of democratic rights caused - or rather, made worse - by the pandemic. EUMANS is among the founders of Citizens Take Over Europe, which is now a network of over 50 organizations which are coordinating efforts for the immediate launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe and for the institutionalisation of sortition-based Citizens Assemblies. And our contribution is recognized and visible: each one of the proposals of the coalition is “hooked” as a Petition to the European Parliament.

And on the other hand, the EU CAN DO IT Petition: a combination of evidence-based proposals to reform the European Union for the management of pandemic and other crises.
We “physically” brought 10,000 citizens, 15 European mayors (from Cluj to Palermo), and over 50 organisations in front of the PETI Committee, where I took the floor before MEPS for a formal hearing- and now we can relaunch those proposals with Violeta Bulc and Andriukaitis (former EU Commissioners and promoters of the Health Union Manifesto), within the context of the Council on Participatory Democracy and the network Citizens Take Over Europe.

The Rule of Law
We follow the lead of Pier Virgilio Dastoli on the Petition to the European Parliament, for the evolution of the Rule of Law ECI. And Marco Cappato was the only Italian activist who joined the demonstration of judges in Warsaw 1 year ago. And just last week, Eszter Nagy, a Hungarian Federalist who has decided to open up a space of shared political analysis to create a European field of action, joined one of our weekly meetings.

The Italian Front
Politici per Caso, the committee for the ECI for Citizens Assemblies in Italy is an independent committee, but it is within EUMANS that this Committee was enabled. Lorenzo will tell you more about the uniqueness and potential of this instrument.

Together with what Andrea Salimbeni started to build on the “local ecological front” on the circular economy and other sustainability topics, this combines very well with the instruments that we have activated for StopGlobalWarming.eu - starting from the local motions.

This “local capital” should be empowered on one-side and “cloned” in other European Countries.

Collaboration and Participation within EUMANS

As I said, one year ago we didn’t have a Statute, we didn’t have an organisation. Now we are holding this first open Assembly with a clear goal in mind: how do we “scale” this methodology of collaboration and activation of instruments, how do we “encounter” the needs of the European citizens like us and those who we have met so far, to make sure we are that space of political hope?

This summer we worked for 5 weeks in August on the new Statute and the reform of the Activation Agreement, a precious instrument to define the values and the forms of our collaboration. These new instruments are now also implemented in EUMANS Agora.

We have a vision in our statute: a European Association. Something that doesn’t exist YET at a European level. But there is one man who is fighting for it, Gerald Christian Heintges.

How do we develop our infrastructure, starting from what Roberto Mancuso will show us as an output of the militant work on the development of transparent instruments of collaboration?

How do we expand the Wise Committee so that we keep a continuous balance between evidence-based policies and all forms of direct actions?

How do we better use what we have gained so far, to arrive at the Assembly of June 2021 with the credibility and the potential for being the instrument at service of European Citizens that we want to be?

We don’t need just ideas: we need spaces in which ideas are discussed and legs on which ideas can walk.

This small group of 49 members today has a new responsibility: preparing the General Assembly. A General Assembly that is something no one has seen before in Europe: a political movement that doesn’t need to fight for a seat in the Parliament, but just needs to find the best way to unite forces with those within the Parliaments of Europe to transform what doesn’t work in reality.

We need this hope as individuals now more than ever, in this difficult time of the pandemic.

To take part in the conversation about the EUMANS Statute and the preparation of the EUMANS Constituent Assembly you can join other EUMANS Activists on EUMANS Agorà in the dedicated section "EUMANS Evolution"