You can participate in European politics

You can participate in European politics

In the last week of June, a group of 20 young pirates from Germany traveled to Brussels for a visit to the European Parliament and the European Commission. The group had many meetings with lobbyists and representatives of different organizations during their stay in Brussels.

One of the meetings was an hour of discussion with Joachim Ott, who is responsible for citizen participation in the European Commission. He opened with the statement, “If you see the European Union as more democratic at the end of the hour than now, I won”. The meeting contained a presentation about the structure of the European Union as well as the ways in which citizens and NGOs can participate in the legislative process. After this presentation the discussion started. It soon turned out that the most participation from outside the Commission is done by NGOs and not citizens.

After pointing this out, there was a discussion on how the citizens can be included in a better way. It was agreed that one of the main issues is the lack of information about how everyone of us can already join in the process. Mr. Ott asked us to spread the information about the consultations for the European Commission. These consultations are surveys the European Commission publishes to get feedback on topics they’re working on at the moment. One example of a current consultation is: “A clean and open Internet“.  I’m pretty sure many of you want to give feedback on this issue. 😉

The group of young pirates also had a meeting with Joe McNamee from EDRi (European Digital Rights) who works as a lobbyist in Brussels to fight for our civil rights in the digital age. EDRi is an association of civil right organizations from all over Europe and non-European countries, such as Bits of Freedom (The Netherlands), Digitale Gesellschaft (Germany), Electronic Frontier Foundation (USA) and many others. Some people in the European Commission actually try to push for an improvement in digital rights, but they will have a hard time doing this if nobody is speaking for the people’s interest in the consultation.

According to Joe McNamee, the problem with lobbying in the European Union are not the closed doors but “too many open doors”. Lobbyists have plenty of possibilities to talk with MEPs, Commission Members and other actors in the European Union. There’s a structural disadvantage for smaller lobby groups such as EDRi (who can’t rely on the industry to finance them) to reach all of these “open doors”. If you want to help EDRi, you can donate some money to them or help them with publicity for their actions. With EDRi-gram there is a newsletter about their work.  It’s a good news source for everyone interested in digital rights on the European level.

Article written by:Florian Stascheck

Featured Image: JuPis, Bingen (Germany) | CC-BY-SA: Tobias M. Eckrich