For most people the macro-regions and the strategies are well-kept secrets. They are not known to the public. They are known to an inner circle of people working with them.
Civil society organisations are among the most important watchdog organisations in our political system. Against the backdrop of growing right-wing populism and fake news, they are more important than ever before.
Regularly organised events of the European Commission, e.g. the European Week of Regions and Cities and the EU Macro-regional Strategies Week are important policy playing fields for CSOs; they should proactively contribute to and benefit from these events.
Trust is needed to encourage collaboration and human contacts are the best way to develop trust.
Don’t explain Europe abstractly but show the benefits of the EU’s macro-regional policy by means of specific projects.
First of all, citizens should be aware of the existence of macro-regions and regional policies. Secondly, it is important to show existing cooperation, integration and exchange among countries of a macro-region, and potentials that could be developed in the future. This way, citizens would see their interest in active participation.
In hard times people may change their attitudes towards life and values. Not so long ago freedom, democracy, rule of law, and solidarity were perceived as abstract notions connected to political discourses, rather than parts of urgent needs of people as it is the case now. The pandemic has taught citizens to appreciate the practical meaning of European fundamental values and rights which should be strengthened in the EU policy areas, including macro-regional policies.
The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated fractures in the concept of EU solidarity. The initial intervention and later the vaccine calamity proved that for many countries their own nation is the ultimate priority. In planning future macro-regional policies, regional (cross-country) cooperation and mutual planning mechanisms should be introduced and well-established.
The European Solidarity Corps initiative should be used more systematically to develop a sense of care and togetherness among young people.
Youth involvement contributes to innovations and better mobility, as well as to making positive change happen.
What topics should be discussed to keep European citizens on board during the Conference? Nature conservation and restoration, peace and security in Europe, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ongoing online platform of the CoFE should be kept operational after the Conference. This would give citizens, representative associations and civil society the possibility to monitor the follow-ups of the Conference and react to the proposals.
Get into the dialogue but also get into doing. Talking and acting, both!
I would definitely give up plastic packaging, bags, straws etc. which really harm our environment. When I go shopping, I always bring canvas bags
Most organisations focus on providing services for disadvantaged groups, but I think most important are NGOs acting as watchdogs. Sometimes governmental authorities deviate from their role of protecting the interests of citizens, and NGOs intervene and mobilize citizens to solve the problem
The pandemic revealed how slow and inefficient the EU decision-making process is when facing unexpected situations. The selfish and inward-looking attitude of governments further aggravated the situation.
Europe in 2030? I would like to know what happens tomorrow!