PPEU Conference Barcelona

PPEU Conference Barcelona

On this weekend there will be an international pirate conference in Barcelona. Apart from the final discussion and drafting of statutes for founding of a European Pirate Party there is also a panel planned on broader, more general topics. Pirate Times was able to ask Muriel Rovira Esteva, international coordinator from the Catalonian Pirate Party, a few questions.

Pirate Times: Muriel, thank you for your time. After the drafting of the conference text at the last PPI conference in Prague, and the meetings in Aarau and Potsdam the upcoming conference is taking place in Barcelona. What was the motivation of the Catalan Pirates for volunteering for hosting such a conference?

Muriel: When we were preparing for the PPI General Assembly, and knowing that the European Pirates would be one of the important issues to be covered in that meeting, we set up a poll asking our members whether they wanted Pirates de Catalunya to have an active role in this project, participating and getting involved in the work groups. As you can see, the answer was unanimous.

This is quite remarkable. If you take a look at other poll in our participation system, you’ll notice that it’s very rare that all voters agree on something in such a way.

The following vote concerning the ratification of the Prague declaration was also remarkably categorical with only a single “indifferent” vote.

Taking into account that there won’t be any elections in Catalonia until the European Elections (unless there’s a surprise call for regular elections), and what we knew our members thought, it just made all the sense to commit to the project and help carrying it out.

Therefore, when the statutes work group in Aarau started discussing the need for an additional conference before the founding one, I got in touch with the rest of the party to confirm they thought it was a good idea, too. And so we offered ourselves to host the event.

Of course, an event like this is very good to draw media attention, so we also thought it would be a very nice way to promote the pirate ideas among the citizens, which is one of our main objectives.

Pirate Times: Hosting such a conference certainly is no easy task. Could you tell us how many pirates were involved with the logistics behind it, and maybe give a short sketch of the planning process?

Muriel: During the first weeks we were just a few from the most active group of pirates but, as we needed help on this or that, we asked our members and the conference work group has been steadily growing. Right now there are roughly 40 volunteers covering the different aspects of the conference.

First and most important was finding the right venue, which was especially difficult due to the fact that we don’t have that many funds and that we had August in the middle, a month when everything stops here. Then, we had a meeting to determine what would be needed and sent a call for help to the members in our periodic newsletter. We’ve been assigning tasks since then to the volunteers that have been showing up, and in the last days we have divided ourselves in several specialised teams, so that we can work independently and everyone knows what to do.

Apart from that, the regular work groups and the board have also been lending a hand. For instance, Communication has helped with some translations and Creatives with design work.

Pirate Times: Brigitta Jónsdóttir, Aleks Lessmann and Josep Jover are very interesting guests for a panel. How did the decision to go beyond PPEU as a topic come about?

Muriel: On the one hand, we knew that it’s very difficult for a large number of the international delegates to stay until late on Sunday, because they have to return to their countries, so we wanted to avoid having working sessions after a certain time to respect that.

And on the other hand, we wanted to motivate the general public to get involved in the pirate movement and convey to them the importance of funding the European Parties to coordinate our efforts at an European level.

That’s why we thought of a series of talks as the closing session. The three speakers will be talking about important issues which have an international dimension, but in particular which are interesting for citizens Europe-wide:

  • Many countries are facing now the same problems that Iceland faced a few years ago, something that is affecting all EU countries. The solutions they applied, which have proven quite successful, involved many pirate ideas which are now being disregarded by other governments, and that should be put forward for consideration.
  • The vision of Europe of the German Pirate Party, which is the party with the potential to get more MEP seats in the coming European Parliament Elections, will certainly play an important role in the following years, influencing future European policies.
  • Fighting law abuses carried out by some countries, through the coordination of European Pirate Parties, can be a very powerful tool to defend citizens rights.

Pirate Times: The conference is not meant to be the founding conference for PPEU (even though some Pirates disagree). Can you tell us a little bit more concerning the future of PPEU?

Muriel: I think (and hope) that bringing together such large number of official delegates to discuss the European Pirates Statutes will give a definitive momentum to the project. Hopefully, it will encourage European Pirate Parties to push this issue to higher positions of their agendas so that the European Pirates will be ready when the time comes.

After these work sessions we will be able to deliver these draft statutes to all the involved Pirate Parties, so they will have some months to review them and we’ll be able to reach a high consensus before the foundational assembly.

With the pirate movement growing internationally, the list of reasons to coordinate our efforts grows with it. My dream is that the European Pirates will draw pirates from different countries together to make them stronger and more effective in our fight to change society.

Pirate Times: Are there any other upcoming conferences for internationally interested Pirates in Europe?

Muriel: There is a conference planned in Rome the 17th and 18th of November to start coordinating the election campaigns for the European Parliament between the different parties. And there will also be the big event of the European Pirates founding conference, once the parties grass roots have had time to thoroughly discuss the draft statutes . The founding conference will most likely take place early next year and will probably be held in Luxembourg. Although we’ll have to wait a bit to know for sure the date and place.

Pirate Times: Muriel, thank you very much for the interview!