The State of European Democracy and Strategies for Civil Society Action

27. februar 2020

The EU’s common values ​​for democracy were ratified in the Copenhagen criteria of 1993 and the 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights. With the enlargement of 2004, the path to a common democratic Europe was paved just 15 years after the fall of communism in a number of Eastern European countries.

However, in recent years democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights have come under pressure. The question that arises is: what tools do we have for securing democracy now and in future in the European cooperation?

With this conference we focus on how democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law in European cooperation, at the beginning of a new decade are aligned.

Through academic presentations and workshops, we will explore how organized civil society can work together at European level and play a role in strengthening European democracy.

The conference is the first of a number of initiatives which Nyt Europa will coordinate with this purpose. The initiatives are aimed at promoting cross-border cooperation between civil society organizations as well as ensuring that national parliaments and the EU take into account the role of civil society in continuing to secure democracy in Europe.

The conference offers professional presentations on the relationship between the rule of law, democracy and civil society since 1989, workshops with presentations from a number of European civil society actors as well as discussion with politicians from Europaudvalget.

Read more about the History of Optimism project here


Programme at 12.30 to 16.30:

Part 1: 12.30-13.45: Academic presentations

  1. Welcome by Nyt Europa(Steen Gade)
  2. Marlene Wind (KU): The Rule of Law and Democracy 1989 to the present.
  3. Søren Riishøj (SDU): The role of civil society in the democratic transition in Eastern Europe in the 1990s
  4. Maj Grasten (CBS): The intersection of institutions, civil society and popular movements

13.45-14.00: Pause

Part 2: 14.00-15.45: Workshops

  1. Shrinking civic space: what counter strategies can civil society actors mobilize? (Vladimir Sestovic, European Civic Forum, FR).
    • An open and accessible civic space is part and parcel of the democratic values. Sestovic will share insights about the state of civic space in Europe and together the workshop will work on counter strategies.
  2. Attitudes towards democracy among European citizens: How can a long-lasting trust in democratic values ​​be ensured? (Philip Pazderski, Polish Institute of Public Affairs, PL & Amnesty International Denmark).
    • Based on research among Polish citizens, Pazderski will give an overview of current attitudes towards democratic values. Together, the workshop will work on how to ensure a long-lasting trust in democratic values.  
  3. Solidarity between civil society actors across borders in Europe (Christina Nuhr, Mit Ost, DE).
    • This workshop will open by sharing the experiences of Mit Ost and their promotion of solidarity between German and East European civil society organizations. In this workshop, we discuss how the grounds for cooperation and solidarity has changed, and whether some close ties and room for bilateral dialogue has been lost?
  4. Is participatory democracy the way forward? New pathways for our European democracy (Jacob Erle, Nyt Europa & Dansk Ungdoms Fællesråd).
    • This workshop happens in the light of the EU commissions initiative to engage European citizens in the discussion about the future of European democracy within the scope of ‘The Conference on the Future of Europe”, and is focused on developing new methods for ensuring a democracy for the many rather than for the few. 

When registering, a 1, 2, 3 and 4th priority of workshops must be chosen.

Part 3: 15.45-16.30: Collection& Comments

  1. Collection of workshop insights.
  2. Comments by members of Europaudvalget.
  3. Rounding off and the framework for continued cooperation (Nyt Europa).

The project is a collaboration between Nyt Europa (DK) in collaboration with MitOst (DE), the Institute of Public Affairs (PL) and the European Civic Forum.

The Project is implemented with support from the European Union program Europe for Citizens and with support from Europanævnet.