COLOGNE

Cologne: Chapter five
- CITIZENS' RIGHTS

At what would become the first online conference in the Connect Europe project we exterminated Chapter Five on Citizens' Rights in the EU Charter on May 11.

 

The chapter underlines that transparency is vital for a strong democracy because citizens need to be properly informed in order to practice active citizenship and build responsible, informed opinions. Openness and accessibility to government documents are necessary for the functioning of a democracy society where governments are held accountable!

Therefor and perhaps especially in a time of crisis such as this where the decisions are being made quickly and with great effect, we must debate how Citizens rights are affected and for that we need transparency in decision making processes. 

Therefore the partner from Democracy International persisted with their planned debate on Citizens rights but moved the event online and added a Covid-19 perspective. 

"I was really shocked when I found out how secrecy is practiced on all political levels at the EU."

"It's impossible to provide to the public reasons for decisions if there isn't good record-keeping."

"In the overall toolbox that citizens have available other than voting every 5 years, it's a very substantial right to be able to petition the European Parliament."

These are some quotes from our speakers from the dynamic online event that underlined just how transparency is necessary for a healthy, thriving democracy. Unfortunately they also underline the current issues of a system that is based on values of democratic participation and citizens insight but practices secrecy and closed doors. This is the core take away from the debate - we must do better to ensure transparency in all levels of decision makings! 

Further the participants where asked to participate in a poll on their thoughts on the transparency in EU decision making processes. The answers can be seen in the graph to the rights and on https://www.democracy-international.org/connect-europe-20-years-eu-citizens-rights. 

Learn more by watching the video below: 

The program for the online debate:

1. Strengthening and raising awareness of citizens’ rights in Europe

Introduction and Moderation by Daniela Vancic

Experts:

  • Member of European Parliament, Daniel Freund - Right to petition EP (Article 44)

  • Marie Jünemann, Mehr Demokratie - Right to access documents (Article 42)

  • Helen Darbishire, Access Info Europe - Right to good administration (Article 41)

2. Virtual European Public Sphere – Open discussion

Moderation by Anne Hardt

Topic: "How can the EU Charter protect citizens’ rights, especially in times of international crises?"

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