Constitution-Making and Democracy in Troubled Times
The Center for Research on Democracy and Law of the University of Macedonia (Greece), the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP, Greece), and the 4-year, EU funded COST Action “Constitution-making and deliberative democracy” (CA17135), co-organize the international conference “Constitution-making and Democracy in Troubled Times,” within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe (https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/Democracy/f/5/meetings/29866).
The conference will be held in hybrid form* for both speakers and audience (physical presence and online/streaming) on 16 and 17 December 2021 at Conference Hall I of the Aristotle University Research Dissemination Center (KEDEA), Tritis Septemvriou, University Campus (3ης Σεπτεμβρίου Πανεπιστημιούπολη), Thessaloniki, Greece, 54636 (https://goo.gl/maps/29R4jYzdKmoU4HHa6), and is freely open to the public.
The aim of the conference is to address from both a theoretical and applied approach and in a multidisciplinary manner, the challenges, prospects and innovations in the fields of democratic and local governance, and human rights, especially in light of the relevant major developments during the last decade (financial crisis, immigration crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, etc.). Particular emphasis is placed on the constitutional extensions of issues related to the above, and also on the ways through which, primarily the local, but also the trans/international levels, can contribute to enhancing, strengthening, and modernizing the democratic system of governance by making it more responsive and efficient.
For more information visit https://en.kedid.org/activities/conferences/constitution-making-democracy/.
Aristotle University Research Dissemination Center (KEDEA), Tritis Septemvriou, University Campus (3ης Σεπτεμβρίου Πανεπιστημιούπολη), Thessaloniki, Greece, 54636
Event reportThe international conference started on December 16, 2021 with a Masterclass focusing on the Future of the European Union (EU) with Assoc. Prof. Ioannis Papadopoulos, Director of the coorganizing Center for Research on Democracy and Law (CEDLAW), and Assoc. Prof. Spyridon Blavoukos (Athens University of Economics and Business, Head of the “Arian Condellis” European Program at ELIAMEP). They analyzed the possible models for the future of Europe, the way in which the European Union is evolving and how crises may have a positive result, underlining that the common values of the member states should be guaranteed by the EU. The conference continued with a keynote speech by Em. Professor of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Petros Stagos and Professor of the same University Philemon Paionidis, on the "Assembly of European Citizens", a proposal for citizen participation in the decision-making process in the EU. This proposal addresses specific issues of convergence of an assembly of three hundred European citizens, whose decisions will be forwarded to the European Parliament and then to the Council for approval. The issue of participation of European citizens in the decisions of the EU institutions was also addressed by the speakers of the roundtable discussion that followed. The institutional illusion created around the Conference on the Future of Europe, the need to extend qualified majority voting to the agenda of Council decisions as well as the adaptability that the EU has to show in the contemporary crisis of the coronavirus and the rule of law were central points of the debate. The necessity of strengthening the participation of European citizens in the debate on major issues that concern them, as well as the obstacles that the intergovernmental nature of the Union poses to the prospect of a participatory dialogue were acknowledged by Professor of Constitutional Law of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and former Deputy Prime Minister of Greece Evangelos Venizelos, Vice President and Member of the European Parliament Dimitris Papadimoulis, Member of the Greek Parliament, former Greek Minister and Vice President of NATO Parliamentary Assembly Marietta Giannakou, Professor of the Athens University of Economics and Business and Director General of ELIAMEP George Pagoulatos, Director of CEDLAW Associate Professor Ioannis Papadopoulos, and Assoc. Professor and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair European Constitutional Law and Culture Lina Papadopoulou. A common component was the recognition of the EU’s resilience to crises and the need to preserve deliberative democracy on the basis of common European values. The second day of the conference started with a session focused on the different aspects and perspectives of democratic governance. Assistant Professor Nenad Stojanovic stated, among other things, that the application of direct democracy methods not only does not exacerbate populism, but on the contrary can enhance citizen participation and improve the overall legitimacy of democratic institutions. The need to strengthen deliberative democracy and to redefine the concept of active citizenship was stressed by PhD candidate Eleftheria Terzoudi, who raised the issue of the questioning of the modern democratic model of governance. Finally, in a more empirical theoretical approach, Dr. Daniel Oross analyzed the process and results of the Climate 2020 Assembly held in Budapest as an example of a citizen assembly that promotes direct citizen participation at the local level of governance. In the second session of the day, the debate focused on issues of democratic governance within the EU. Dr. Anastasia Deligiouri, spoke about the legal implications of deliberative democracy and how changes in the legal framework can enhance the procedural legitimacy of the EU. As a case study of this position she analyzed the positive influence of the better regulation agenda implemented under the Junker presidency. On the other hand, the founder and President of the Foster Europe Foundation focused on another form of transnational cooperation between the states of the Union as expressed in the context of the Macro-Regional Strategies. Analyzing the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, he focused on the benefits of its implementation such as legal changes and the funding opportunities that have arisen for the cooperating states. On the issue of enhancing citizen participation in the public sphere as expressed on the first day of the conference, Professor Despina Anagnostopoulou focused on the benefits that digital transformation can offer in shaping a new digital democracy that promotes participation and public dialogue through the internet. The association's media and information dissemination competence policies are considered essential for the proper implementation of this new strategy to enhance inclusiveness. The first part of the second day of the conference concluded with a session on deliberative democracy outside the borders of the EU. Professor Dobrinka Chankova approached the issue of deliberative democracy and human rights by focusing on the case of Bulgaria in the light of the tense political situation in the country in recent years. Among other things, she said that the inefficiency of governments combined with high levels of corruption and censorship limit the possibility of open dialogue and the participation of civil society in public life. On the other hand, PhD candidate Ernesto Cruz Ruiz focused on the analysis and functioning of democratic innovation mechanisms as methods of enhancing citizen participation and consultation. A key point was his insight into the different models of democratic innovation that arise both because of the different political systems and the different goals and interests of the respective citizens (Global South perspective). During the fourth session of the conference, Dr. Monika Mokre raised constitutional-related concerns in respect of the covid measures implemented in Austria and Switzerland. After explaining briefly the strategies followed by the two countries to tackle the pandemic, she claimed that both governments have been swaying between solidarity and authoritarianism during this period. Among the various legal measures, some were denounced as unlawful by the Constitutional Court (for example, the lockdown only for non-vaccinated people). Following this presentation, PhD candidate Sergio Barbosa analyzed the local community’s response to COVID-19 in Brazil. The main topic of his research was the way activist groups mobilized on WhatsApp around COVID-19. After the collection and analysis of the relevant data, the researcher suggested the use of such information by the Brazilian government as a tool to halt the dissemination of inaccurate information. Subsequently, Assistant Professor Lacin Idil Oztig, discussed the topic of policy styles and pandemic management in Turkey. Turkish authorities adopted both preemptive and restrictive measures regarding the pandemic. An example of a restrictive measure is the implementation of mandatory mask-wearing in all places, right after the first case was detected. The fifth session started with Professor Nikolaos Zahariadis, who presented a statistical analysis in respect of the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions for the pandemic management in Greece and Cyprus. Furthermore. In continuation, Professor Theofanis described the British government’s response to the pandemic throughout the first year of its appearance. He argued that the UK was never prepared for this pandemic crisis, attributing this lack of readiness to the NHS’ underfunding. Following-up, Professor Evangelia Petridou and Professor Jorgen Spart discussed the Scandinavian approach on pandemic management. For both presenters two elements were decisive for the formation of the governmental response to the pandemic: the healthy population of both countries and the well-functioning of their public health systems. They also noted that even when Swedish authorities moved forward to measure-implementation, these measures were recommendations and guidelines, instead of strict legal orders. At the end of this session, Dr. Alexandros Kyriakidis presented the GovRM-COVID19 Observatory, the first independent Greek observatory for COVID-19 government response measures. The observatory codes the legislation issued in the countries of its research focus and depicts how these measures are used to deal with the pandemic. The fifth, and final, panel of the conference started with the presentation of Dr. Georgia Panagiotidou, who discussed the topic of Elections in times of COVID-19, showing data collected from the classical standard Eurobarometer and analyzed the political trust in Germany, Greece, etc. The second speaker, Ms. Lydia Papagiannopoulou presented on religious freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic. The last speaker, Professor Theodoros Chatzipantelis presented on democracy during COVID-19, showinf the data he collected and analyzed the effects of the pandemic on democracy.
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