Citizens Take Over Europe x Conference on the Future of Europe 1.0
First up, the topic of "European democracy"!
On May 5, 18:00-19:15 CEST we will discuss democracy reform proposals with:
- Roslyn Fuller, Solonian Democracy Institute
- Alberto Alemanno, HEC Paris
- Bruno Kaufmann, Democracy International
Each expert will take up one of three pillars of EU democracy (representative, participative, direct democracy) and lead a Zoom breakout room on their respective topic. The final agreed proposals will be submitted by Citizens Take Over Europe on the official online platform of the Conference.
Event reportCitizens Take Over Europe report on recommendations of European Citizens’ Panel 2 Disclaimer In the document below, we share some responses to the recommendations of European Citizens’ Panel 2 on “European democracy / Values and rights, rule of law, security”. The document is the provisional outcome of a collaborative effort of members of the Citizens Take Over Europe coalition (CTOE). The views expressed below constitute CTOE’s initial input for the Conference Plenary debate on these recommendations taking place on 21-22 January, while noting that not all views are necessarily shared by all CTOE members. Additionally, we want to note that the absence of a response on some of the recommendations does not mean that we as CTOE do not value said recommendations, nor that we value it less than other recommendations. The choice of recommendations is informed by the expertise that we as CTOE hold on the topics addressed by the recommendations, and our ability to reach a consensus on an initial written response within the limited time available. Any feedback on our initial responses, or any additional input on these or other recommendations, is highly appreciated, so that we can continue to develop this document in parallel to the work of the Conference Plenary. Please send this feedback to email@example.com. — 5. Independence of the media ECP Recommendation: “In the actual context of many fake news, we recommend to promote more independent, objective and balanced media coverage by: 1. Developing at EU level a minimum standards directive for media independence. 2. Promoting at EU level the development of media competences for every citizen” The EU must produce a directive to ensure the independence of the media and freedom of speech. CTOE Response: Citizens Take Over Europe welcomes the introduction of an EU directive aimed at guaranteeing the independence of the media and freedom of speech and the reduction of ‘Fake News’. We note that the Charter of Fundamental Rights guarantees a freedom to receive information and that plurality of the media shall be respected. Any such law would need to take account of these rights as well as the linguistic divisions of the media markets. Controls on ownership and market share for media organisations is common across the world and are treated as market monopoly issues and thus sit within the competencies of the EU. We believe that any such directive on media independence must guarantee a right of reply and a duty of truthfulness. The issue of independence from politicians is more complex. We suggest that looking at this as a corruption issue for which the EU has competence might be a better way forward. We believe an EU directive is an appropriate tool as it will require member state parliaments to implement any such regulation. The Commission’s proposal for a Media Freedom Act is a welcome one, and we call on the Conference Executive Board to develop these recommendations into a consultation stage submission. We note that other recommendations e.g. 12, 17, 26, 28, and 31 all seek to address misinformation, media monopoly, truthfulness, or other aspects of media regulation, and in two cases ask for a publicly-owned fact checking service and a reliability index. In order to combat misinformation, we suggest the promotion of media literacy including through formal and informal education. 10. Protecting rule of law / Sanctions ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that the conditionality regulation (2020/2092, adopted on 16 December 2020) is amended so that it applies to all breaches of the rule of law rather than only to breaches affecting the EU budget”. The conditionality regulation allows for the suspension of EU funds to Member States breaching the rule of law. However, under the current formulation it only applies to breaches that affect, or risk affecting, the EU budget. Furthermore, the current phrasing of the conditionality regulation is self-protective of the EU’s budget and of the EU’s institutions rather than the citizens of the Member States concerned. Therefore, we recommend changing the current text of the regulation so that it covers all violations of the rule of law. 11. Protecting rule of law / Public conference on the rule of law “We recommend that the EU organises annual conferences on the rule of law following the publication of the annual Rule of Law Report (the Commission’s mechanism for monitoring compliance with the rule of law by the Member States). Member States should be obligated to send socially diverse national delegations to the conference that include both citizens and civil servants”. This conference would foster dialogue among EU citizens on rule of law issues as well as dialogue between citizens and experts drafting the annual Rule of Law Reports. We believe that in an atmosphere of mutual appreciation and sharing the participants can take best practices and ideas back to their home countries. Furthermore, the conference would bring awareness and understanding to the principle of the rule of law and to the findings and process behind the annual Rule of Law Report. It would also capture the attention of the media, as well as allow citizens to share their experiences and compare them against the findings in the Report. CTOE Response: Both recommendations on the rule of law are timely and highly important in the light of the delays in implementation of the Regulation No. 2020/2092, the Commission’s Annual Rule of Law Report, and the obstructive behaviour of backsliding states. We fully agree that it is necessary to return to the original idea of the Regulation, which was much less restrictive in scope, to systematically defend the rule of law as a fundamental value of the EU. Protection of the rule of law cannot be reduced to mere budgetary matters and misspent funds, but has to be defended as essential for the quality of democracy in all EU member states. While the Commission's Annual Rule of Law Report is of great significance for addressing the rule of law crisis, which is why we agree with the citizens’ recommendation on the call for a more ‘bottom up rule of law’ to strengthen the inclusiveness and transparency in how the reports are drafted. We criticise the rather descriptive nature of the reports (lacking critical bite), the tight deadlines involved in the submission of input, the limited scope (in particular with regard to the role of civil society in defending the rule of law on the ground) and the lack of inclusion of critical input presented by civil society organisations to the Commission in the final reports. We hence fully support the citizens’ call for the broad inclusion of citizens in the procedure, but also want to stress the crucial nature of structural involvement of civil society organisations, in terms of input and of follow-up, regarding the monitoring of the rule of law and endangered civic space on the ground, and the evaluation of the Report’s effectiveness. 16. Common election law and trans-national lists ECP Recommendation: “We recommend adopting an election law for the European Parliament that harmonizes electoral conditions (voting age, election date, requirements for electoral districts, candidates, political parties and their financing). European citizens should have the right to vote for different European Union level parties that each consist of candidates from multiple Member States. During a sufficient transition period, citizens could still vote for both national and transnational parties”. We recommend this because the European Union needs to build a sense of unity, which could be achieved by a truly unified election of the European Parliament. This common election will hold accountable the Members of the European Parliament and to focus the election campaign on shared European topics. CTOE Response: We welcome the fact that citizens do not merely indicate the need for transnational lists, which could be realised by leaving the party system intact, but argue in favour of truly transnational parties. The latter would need a revision of the Regulation on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations to allow for parties organized on the European level, instead of deriving from alliances of existing national parties. This is also reflected in the citizens’ proposal to unify European electoral conditions, which, in the light of the above, would need to explicitly revise the Electoral Act. The citizens however also express support for the idea of a dual vote, one for national and and one for transnational constituencies, which is in line with the idea of transnational lists. We suggest prioritising the idea of European political parties as the most effective way of stimulating European democracy, creating real political competition at the European level and effectively allowing European citizens to participate in European politics, rather than a process of aggregation of the vested interests of national parties. Any system would need to take into account the Charter of Fundamental Rights and people’s right to freely associate (Article 12). 18. Pan-European referendums ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that there should be an EU-wide referendum in exceptional cases on extremely important matters to all European citizens. The referendum should be triggered by the European Parliament and should be legally binding”. There should be more direct influence of EU citizens on important decisions on EU-wide matters. However, referendums should only be held in exceptional circumstances because the costs are too high to hold them regularly. We are aware that this recommendation might require a treaty change and the adaptation of national constitutions. CTOE Response: We welcome the introduction of EU wide referendums and welcome the recommendation that citizens should be able to directly influence important decisions on EU-wide matters. However, we disagree on the frequency and mode in which pan-European voting should be triggered. We recommend that referendums must be triggered from the bottom up, as is the case already at many national, regional and local levels in the EU, so that citizens may scrutinise newly proposed legislation as well as propose new legislation themselves. Citizens should be able to define and decide when a European vote is needed via the use of democratic mechanisms, namely the European Citizens’ Initiative. A change to the treaties by the EU institutions should trigger an obligatory pan-European referendum in order to allow citizens to have a final say on the proposed treaty amendment. Referendum topics must be in line with European values and must not be discriminatory or contrary to human and civil rights. We believe that any referendum mechanism requires safeguards to guarantee the voices of smaller countries, ethnic, and national minorities. Preceding each referendum, an accountable and representative European Citizens’ Assembly must be held about the matter at stake to trigger a wider public debate and to prevent polarisation among opposed political forces. An equal-sided information and awareness-raising campaign is also required. As this recommendation would require amendments to the EU treaties, we recommend that the EU institutions launch a treaty change process to discuss in greater depth, together with citizens and external experts, the possible legal introduction of EU referendums including the modes and frequency in which they are to be held. 35. Citizen participation / EU Constitution ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that the EU reopens the discussion about the constitution of Europe with a view to creating a constitution informed by the citizens of the EU. Citizens should be able to vote in the creation of such a constitution. This constitution in order to avoid conflict with the member states should prioritize the inclusion of human rights and democracy values. The creation of such a constitution should consider previous efforts that never materialized to a constitution”. Because this constitution would engage young people with politics at the EU level and counteract increasing forces of nationalism. Because it would provide a common definition of what is meant by democracy in Europe, and make sure that this is implemented in an equal way amongst all member states. Because the EU has shared values regarding democracy and human rights. Because this would enable citizens to be included in the decision making process, and allow citizens to identify more as being from the EU - having participated in the process. CTOE Response: We welcome the citizens’ call for returning to a European-wide debate on a political constitution for the EU. We suggest a robust citizen input in the drafting of the procedures for a Constitutional Convention, the inclusion of citizens (including marginalized groups and minorities) in the assembly that deliberates and drafts the constitution, and to give citizens a final say by means of a pan-European referendum. The referendum to confirm the final European Constitution will create a genuine “European moment” of voting that unites all citizens as European and member state citizens at the same time. Only one vote is cast by citizens as European and member state citizens simultaneously without any split of citizens’ personality in their dual identity. This kind of double-majority will ensure maximum inclusion of as many EU citizens and EU member states as possible while still conducting a democratic majority decision. The direct vote on a European constitution should be preceded by an intensive and at least two years long deliberation process based on a Convention (Art. 48 TEU) coupled with a systematic application of randomly selected European Citizens’ Assemblies. In contrast to previous failed constitutional attempts, it is publicly agreed from the outset that the outcome of the Constitutional Convention will ultimately be put to a vote by EU citizens in an EU-wide referendum. Member States whose citizens do not vote with a majority in favour of an EU constitution can vote on it again if the majority of EU citizens and member states have voted in favour. If there are no majorities among EU citizens and member states, the Constitutional Convention will continue at least one more time to improve the draft constitution and put it to a vote again. 39. Citizen participation / European Citizens' Assembly ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that the European Union holds Citizen’s Assemblies. We strongly recommend that they are developed through a legally binding and compulsory law or regulation. The citizens' assemblies should be held every 12-18 months. Participation of the citizens should not be mandatory but incentivised, while organised on the basis of limited mandates. Participants must be selected randomly, with representativity criteria, also not representing any organisation of any kind, nor being called to participate because of their professional role when being assembly members. If needed, there will be support of experts so that assembly members have enough information for deliberation. Decision-making will be in the hands of citizens. The EU must ensure the commitment of politicians to citizens' decisions taken in Citizens’ Assemblies. In case citizens' proposals are ignored or explicitly rejected, EU institutions must be accountable for it, justifying the reasons why this decision was made”. We recommend the implementation of Citizens’ Assemblies because we want that citizens feel closer to EU institutions and that they contribute directly to decision-making hand to hand with politicians, increasing the feeling of belonging and direct efficacy. Furthermore, we want political parties and their electoral programs to be accountable to citizens. CTOE Response: We strongly welcome the recommendation and call for randomly-selected citizens’ assemblies to continue meeting, deliberating, and drafting policy proposals on EU-wide issues. Citizens Take Over Europe recommends that a permanent European Citizens’ Assembly, with regularly changing members in rotating host Member States be established as part of the EU decision-making process. The Assembly should meet to deliberate when citizens call for it to convene, such as on the basis of a successful European citizens’ initiative. A European Citizen’s Assembly must be supported by its own consultation process. We note that the success of Citizen’s Assemblies around the world is often based on their location in communities and their informal social accountability to their home communities. Without such a social root, the citizens’ assemblies will be ineffective and ignored. We support proposals to ensure that subsidiarity is exercised by all member states ensuring that decisions are taken as close to the citizens as possible and that subsidiarity does not stop at the member state government and parliaments. Taking the lessons from the European Citizens’ Panels, marginalised communities, including EU residents without EU passports, undocumented people and non-binary people, should be proportionally represented or even overrepresented among the panel members in order to ensure their adequate inclusion and to prevent tokenism. Autonomous deliberation among people from marginalised and dominant groups should be facilitated in addition to mixed group deliberation. We recommend setting up an independent, publicly financed Advisory Board of members of the Citizens’ Assembly, representatives of a respective European citizens' initiative (if triggered by a citizens’ initiative), and other independent actors. The Advisory Board should have a say in designing the process, helping shape the work program of the Citizens’ Assembly, ensuring sufficient time for deliberation, deciding on the selection method applied for random citizens, guaranteeing an inclusive sample, and ensuring a balanced composition of the expert panel. The Advisory Board shall ensure a proper follow-up of a Citizens’ Assembly and make all necessary information and data available to the assembly members. We agree that EU institutions must be accountable to the proposals of the Citizens’ Assembly by requiring EU institutions at the very least to state in writing the reasons for accepting or rejecting the proposals of the assembly. A1, Non-discrimination / Gender equality ECP Recommendation: “We recommend the EU to actively include minorities in policy-making regarding key aspects of state institutions (e.g. police and NGOs). We recommend the EU should establish an advisory board, directly elected by minorities. The composition should be predominately by minority representatives with NGOs also present. It should have a formative role in training civil servants to care for the needs of minorities. This body should have a veto right on minority issues”. We recommend this because the voices of minorities are not heard enough. They should speak on their own behalf, self-determined and at a professional level which is why we combined representation by voting and expertise. CTOE Response: We strongly support the spirit of this recommendation and object to the fact that it has not been adopted by the panel, despite having the support of 62% of the participants. If marginalised communities had been adequately represented within the European Citizens’ Panels, as we repeatedly called for (see our press release on 7 May 2021, our joint letter to the Executive Board on 19 June 2021, and our joint letter to the Conference Plenary on 20 October 2021), we are confident that it would have easily passed the threshold of 70% support among the Citizens’ Panel participants. We agree with Citizens’ Panel participants that it is of crucial importance to amplify the voices of marginalised communities in EU political participation and reform processes, so that the lived experiences of people most affected by racism, sexism, classism, ableism and other systems of oppression are at the centre of concern when problems are analysed and solutions are proposed. In the absence of their central involvement, any EU reform process is bound to fail by reproducing the very systems of oppression that lie at the root of the societal problems that the EU is supposed to address. In line with the recommendation, we call for the establishment of an EU Advisory Board on Participation and Inclusion of Marginalised Groups. This Panel should be composed of people with a wide variety of lived experiences of oppression and a proven track record of organising and engaging marginalised communities, also representing people with experiences of multiple and intersecting forms of oppression and discrimination. The Advisory Board’s mandate is to ensure that the voices of marginalised communities are heard and centred in all EU decision-making processes. In order to realise this, the EU institutions are obliged to pro-actively consult with the Advisory Board while designing participation, consultation and evaluation processes and instruments related to EU decision-making, as well as EU funding instruments and programmes. Additionally, the Advisory Board monitors and reviews the implementation of such processes and instruments. The EU institutions should be legally bound to respond to questions from or recommendations by the Advisory Board in a timely, exhaustive and detailed manner. Finally, the Advisory Board should be involved in developing an EU Strategy for including and centering marginalised communities in EU decision-making in partnership with the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. As part of this strategy, the EU should dedicate significant resources to enclave deliberation and civil society engagement with marginalised communities. Advisory Board members are fully remunerated for their time and work, which they may do part-time in addition to other professional activities. The Advisory Board should be supported by a Secretariat. Additional Citizens Take Over Europe responses to recommendations of European Citizens’ Panel 2 3. Protecting human rights and the rights of nature and animals ECP Recommendation: “We recommend to safeguard animals' wellbeing and sustainability in farming by amending directive 98/58 EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes. More detailed minimum criteria must be defined. It should be specific, measurable, and time bound. The minimum criteria should be set in a way that leads to higher animal wellbeing standards and at the same time enables a transition towards a climate and environmental sustainability and ecological agriculture”. We, as citizens, believe that it is important to have stronger minimum standards to be harmonized within the EU regarding animal farming. We are aware that the transition might pose problems in some agricultural sectors that benefit from subsidies, and for those are in transition to ecological and sustainable farming. However we find it very important to ensure that this transition happens. CTOE Response: We recommend that recreational hunting be stopped in all strictly protected territories in Europe, as well as the hunt for foxes and other predators throughout Europe. Arbitrary hunting does not benefit biodiversity, nor does it help to stabilize or even increase the number of protected species. Hunting also fails to achieve any goals of sustainable population reduction of non-protected animal species that are considered problematic. This is borne out by all available statistics on this subject. 7. Right to privacy / Data protection licencing ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that entities that process personal data shall be licensed at EU level. These entities shall also be subject to independent, external annual data protection audit. These entities shall be punished for data protection violations proportionally to their annual turnover in a stricter way than under the current regulation. The licence should be lifted after two consecutive violations, and immediately after a serious violation”. We recommend all this because current regulations (GDPR) are not sufficient and entities need to be better monitored and sanctioned to make sure they do not violate data protection and the right to privacy. CTOE Response: CTOE opposes this recommendation. We believe that this recommendation stems from the belief that the GDPR and its associated regulations does not stop persistent privacy invasions by member state governments and large corporations. The GDPR abolished the need for data controller/processors to register with the Data Processing Supervisors. It also weakened the privacy regime by weakening the need for consent, particularly via its introduction of “legitimate interest”. It did however, increase the fines and sanctions to levels designed to ensure that companies will comply with the law. Fines are €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater. Any increase in fines should be agreed after it is determined that the current fines are too low. The GDPR leaves enforcement in the hands of the European Data Processing Board (EDPB) and the Commission, both of which are appointed by member state governments. It may be that they EDPB should be more independent of the member state governments since they are amongst the primary potential offenders against the right to privacy. We would support more parliamentary scrutiny of the work of the Commission and EDPB. The use of licensing as proposed in the way proposed engages the Charter of Fundamental Rights in two ways: freedom of expression and information and the freedom to conduct a business. Powers to close down companies would seem excessive and we would oppose taking this measure. 8. Right to privacy / Rights of minors ECP Recommendation: “We recommend strengthening the EU competence in: 1) data protection education, 2) data protection raising awareness and 3) protecting personal data of minors. We recommend providing clearer and stricter rules about processing data of minors in the GDPR, including consent rules, age verification and control by legal guardians. We also recommend to introduce in the GDPR a special category for sensitive minors' data (e.g. criminal record, health information, nudity) so that minors are protected from any form of abuse and discrimination”. This recommendation is needed because minors are especially vulnerable to data protection and privacy violations and currently there is no sufficient data protection awareness among the general population, especially minors, teachers and legal guardians. They all need to learn how to use online and offline data related services and how to protect childrens' privacy rights. Moreover, legal guardians often may consent to the processing of children's data without being fully aware or informed and children may fake parental consent. Last but not least, this recommendation is needed because a proper EU-wide data protection awareness campaign targeted specifically to minors, legal guardians and teachers does not exist, despite its crucial importance. CTOE Response: This recommendation makes two proposals on data protection awareness and one on increasing the enforcement of minor’s rights. The supporting text focuses exclusively on the enforcement of minor’s rights. We believe the panel were looking to equip EU citizens living in the EU and abroad with the skills and means to make complaints and pursue them. We support this aspiration. With respect to the protection of minors, the GDPR legislates for both consent and to prohibit the processing of special data. For the purposes of the GDPR the legal definition of minor belongs to the member states. Perhaps there should be a higher floor on the age of majority, as it is currently thirteen. Again, a concrete problem definition would help, and this possibly a recommendation that would have been helped by stronger expert guidance. We believe that this should be considered in the context of the rights of the child and that the internet system service providers should be held to account for their terms of service which all prohibit, bullying, racism, misogyny other forms of abuse and also fake news which is considered in Recommendation 7 and those pertaining to media regulation. 9. Right to privacy / SCC, Consent, Terms of Service ECP Recommendation: “We recommend introducing standardized privacy policies and easily understandable, concise and user-friendly consent forms that clearly indicate what data processing is strictly necessary and what is optional. We recommend that removing consent should be easy, fast and permanent. We recommend forbidding entities to limit their services more than necessary if there is no consent to optional data processing”. We recommend this because current EU rules are not precise enough, withdrawal from consent is lengthy, temporary and complex, and because entities do not have interest in offering their services to citizens who reclaim their data protection rights. CTOE Response: We believe this recommendation identifies a problem in that legal remediation against corporate or state bad behaviour is expensive and takes too long and there is an ‘inequality of arms’ when individuals are dealing with such companies. We believe that standardised privacy policies are unlikely to be part of the answer and that consent is no longer the only reason to lawfully process personal data. We consider this recommendation to require significant development to make it an effective positive reform. We believe the problem is not the law, but the dispersed and unaccountable nature of enforcement powers and in some cases a weak will to enforce. We believe that one of the key forces undermining the rights to privacy is the political desire to permit the monetisation of such personal data; in the EU this includes the Commission and the fact that the EDPB is appointed by the member states. (These issues are ones that might be well suited to address as the flabbiness of this recommendation shows more work in designing the process needs to be done.) 12. Protecting and strengthening democracy / 2.4 Media and disinformation / Media ownership & politics ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that the EU enforces its competition rules in the media sector more strictly to ensure that media pluralism is protected in all Member States. The EU should prevent large media monopolies and political appointment processes for media outlet boards. We also recommend that the upcoming EU Media Freedom act entails rules on preventing politicians from owning media outlets or having a strong influence on their content”. We recommend this because enforcing EU competition rules fosters a pluralist media landscape where citizens have a choice. Since the Commission is currently developing a law (Media Freedom Act) for the integrity of the EU media market, this law should also reflect that media outlets should not be owned or influenced by politicians. CTOE Response: We support recommendation 5 on independence of the media with which this recommendation is highly aligned and believe that anti-monopoly legislation is an important tool in this goal. We believe that anti-corruption legislation is also part of the answer; politicians and civil servants should be prohibited from taking work from previous clients or companies they have been responsible for, for a period of time, after leaving such public sector jobs. We comment on the need and desirability for a statutory right of reply and a duty of truthfulness in our reply to recommendation 5. 13. Security / Cybersecurity ECP Recommendation: “We recommend the EU institutions to play a stronger role with all the tools at their disposal, including national centers for cybersecurity and the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), to protect individuals, organizations and institutions against new threats coming from cybersecurity breaches and the use of Artificial intelligence for criminal purposes. We further recommend that the directives coming from Europe and its agencies are correctly implemented and disseminated in all Member States”. We recommend this because citizens feel helpless and are not aware of what is done by the European Union to combat these threats. We recommend this because these threats are a serious national and European security concern. We recommend this because Europe should be a true innovator in this field. CTOE Response: This recommendation calls on the EU to do more to combat criminal cyber attacks. It does not mention external state sponsored attacks. They also suggest that European leadership in cyber defence should be established. Again, we can see no actions within the recommendation and note that the Cyber Security Act (CSA), the last institutional review only became law in June 2019. This act increased the powers and independence of European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA). In addition, there is a serious problem in that all the member states seek to weaponise security flaws and may not share this with their citizens or other member states. In some cases, they have conducted illegal surveillance programmes. This behaviour may undermine the ambitions of the legislation, but the CSA is a positive step forward, it should be given time to see what improvements it creates. We note that responsibility for cyber-security is shared between the member states, Europol and ENISA. 19. Decision-making/ Voting digital platform ECP Recommendation: “We recommend creating a multifunctional digital platform where citizens can vote in online elections and polls. Citizens should be able to give their reasoning behind their vote on important issues and legislative proposals coming from European institutions. The platform should be secure, widely accessible and highly visible to each and every citizen”. The objective of this platform is to increase participation in European politics and facilitate citizens' access to consultation and voting processes. Existing tools and processes are not visible enough, and this is why we need a new integrated tool for these different functions. More participation leads to better decisions, more trust among European citizens, and to a better functioning of the European Union overall. CTOE Response: We welcome the creation of a permanent digital platform as a powerful tool to improve citizens’ engagement, participation and deliberation in the European public sphere and in the decision making of the Eu institutions. The platform would be instrumental to strengthening and easeining already existing participatory mechanisms as the European Citizens’ Initiative and the possible institutionalisation European Citizens Assembly/European Citizens’ Panels as new mechanisms of transnational deliberative democracy. The platform should be built on an open source nonprofit software - as it is Decidim, chosen for the Conference Platform - and allow not only online voting but also well ordered and user friendly online deliberation. 20. Decision-making / Veto & QMV ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that the voting systems in the EU institutions should be reassessed focusing on the issue of unanimous voting. Voting 'weight' should be calculated fairly, so that small countries' interests are protected”. Unanimous voting poses a significant challenge to decision making in the EU. The large number of member states makes it very difficult to reach agreement. If necessary, European treaties should change to address the issue of unanimity. CTOE Response: We support this recommendation to review how the institutions vote. We believe in this case that the non-specific nature of the recommendation is an advantage. The member states need to consider how to improve the Council’s voting system to ease decision making and improve European collaboration. This will probably mean a reduction of unanimity to very few exceptional cases, whereas a qualified majority should be the general rule. We would welcome this. Protections for minorities would need to be developed. 28. European values and identity / Disinformation ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that the EU invests in countering disinformation swiftly, by supporting existing organisations and initiatives, such as the Code of Practice on Disinformation and the European Digital Media Observatory, and similar initiatives in the Member States. The counter-measures could include fact-checking, creating awareness about disinformation, providing easily accessible statistics, appropriately sanctioning those who spread disinformation based on a legal framework, and tackling the sources of disinformation”. This recommendation is important because misinformation and disinformation, coming from within and outside of the EU, create conflicts among EU citizens, polarise the society, put democracy at risk and damage the economy. Given the complexity of the topic, significant human and financial resources are needed. CTOE Response: This is a recommendation to more effectively combat disinformation. This would involve leveraging such assets as the Code of Practice and European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO). We support such measures but would also support measures to mandate a right of reply for misinformation and a tool/programme to rate media organisations for truthfulness as suggested in the recommendation Annexe 2. The independent EDMO could well be a start point for such an initiative. We note that other recommendations i.e. 5, 17, 19, 26 & A2 all seek to address truthfulness in the media as does the 2nd item in the Annex. 30. European values and identity / Welcoming migrants ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that European identity and values (ie. rule of law, democracy and solidarity) should receive a special place within the migrants' integration process. Possible measures could include creating programmes or supporting already existing (local) programmes, to encourage social interactions between migrants and EU citizens or involving companies in the programmes supporting the integration of migrants. At the same time, similar programmes should be initiated in order to create awareness among EU citizens about migration-related issues”. This recommendation is important because social interaction programmes can support migrants in their new life and enable non-migrants to have insight in the daily life of migrants. If migrants live in ghettos, there is no possibility to integrate them into the society of the country and of the EU. A common policy is needed because once migrants enter EU territory, they can go to every country within the EU. Local initiatives should be supported because local governments will use the funds more effectively in comparison to national level. CTOE Response: We support this recommendation. It does not address the central issue of the right to enter the EU, nor how non border member states support the border states but the supporting text makes it clear that this proposal is about welcoming and helping migrants understand the European Union and their freedoms, rights and duties upon arrival. 31. Information about EU / Public broadcasting & Media standards ECP Recommendation: “We recommend that the EU provides more information and news to European citizens. It should use any means that are necessary while respecting freedom and independence of the media. It should provide media outlets with ressources as well as a broad and reliable information about EU activities and policies. The EU should guarantee that the information is broadcasted evenly across all Member States by National and European media and should ensure that Member States encourage public broadcasters and public news agencies to cover European affairs”. We recommend this because based on our personal experience and based on the data from Eurobarometer, the majority of European citizens are informed through the traditional media (press, radio and television) and the information currently offered in these channels about the EU is very scarce. The media, particularly the public, have a public service function, so reporting on EU issues that affect the European population is essential and indispensable to fulfill that function. We recommend that the information issued in the different Member States about the EU be the same in order to promote integration and avoid different information on different issues in each country. Using the already existing media channels is more feasible, and less expensive than creating a new channel and achieves the same outcome. The pre-existing channels also have the advantage that they are already known by citizens. No citizen should need to choose between different channels to be able to access different (national or european) content. CTOE Response: We support the intent of this recommendation. We feel that the issue of fake news and disinformation are best dealt with by legislating for a right of reply and that persistent bad faith should be punished. We support the idea of an independent public sector media scoring entity and suggest that the European Digital Media Observatory might be the appropriate entity to start such an index. See R28 We note that other recommendations i.e. 5, 17, 19, 26 & 28 all seek to address the truthfulness of news and information in the media.
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