The first European Democratic Citizenship Awards by the European Civic Forum

The European Parliament's seat in Strasbourg (picture by the author)

The European Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg (picture by the author)

Next week-end (3-4 May 2014), we will be in Strasbourg to receive the award of “Citizen Media of the Year” sponsored by the European Civic Forum (ECF), a transnational network gathering over 100 NGOs and associations, and committed to empowering citizens in the EU. We are very honoured and grateful to the organisers for having submitted our blog to online voters, along three other finalists, and we thank all those who supported us. For those of you who will be in Strasbourg, please come and meet us at the ECF stand on Sunday 4 May (open doors day of the European Parliament): we’ll be there in the afternoon!

In this article, we would also like to introduce the winners of the other categories:

  • Right2Water was elected “Campaign of the Year”;
  • Goteo was chosen as “NGO of the Year”; and
  • Pedro Santos and João Labrincha, founders of the Citizenship Academy in Portugal, will receive the prize of “Personality of the Year”.

The Right2Water campaign is probably the best-known of all winners: it is the first-ever successful European Citizenship Initiative. The ECI in an innovation of the Treaty of Lisbon: it allows 1 million citizens to petition the Commission to make a legislative proposal. In other words, it is a tool to strengthen the European democracy and the participation of citizens in the public debate and the definition of policies. The Right2Water initiative aims at obtaining the recognition that access to water and sanitation is a human right and should therefore not be subject to a market-based approach focusing on competition between operators. The organisers also want to attract the attention on the sustainability of the use of water resources and to encourage the EU to stand up for an effective global right to water and sanitation. Having gathered nearly 1,900,000 signatures, the ECI Right2Water was accepted by the European Commission and the European Parliament held a hearing on the issue. More information is available on their website!

As indicated on the ECF website, “ is an open source social network for crowd-funding as well as distributed collaboration (services, infrastructures, micro tasks and other resources) for encouraging the independent development of creative and innovative initiatives that contribute to the Commons.” Thanks to this platform, around €1,800,000 were already gathered to support over 260 projects. The platform is managed by the Fundación Fuentes Abiertas (Open Source Foundation), a non-profit foundation which stands for the principles of “openness, neutrality, transparency and independence.” The managers of this foundation hope to revolutionise online support to projects and crowd-funding to develop its “openness, social responsibility and effectiveness.” Learn more about them on their website!

Finally, we are happy to introduce Pedro Santos and João Labrincha to you. Apart from being protagonists in the documentary Dreamocracy, these two young Portuguese launched the Academia Cidadã (Citizenship Academy) in their home country. Thereby, they want “to empower people and organizations in the exercise of deepening democracy [using] educational, communicative and artistic activities.” The Citizenship Academy is the first project of its kind in Portugal and the founders hope to reach and connect ever more people thanks to modern technologies and social networks. Discover more by visiting their website (also partially available in English)!

Congratulations to all of you and we are looking forward to meeting you in Strasbourg for a stimulating exchange on how to develop a European democracy and revive the citizens’ interest for politics!

Pierre-Antoine KLETHI

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