Despite conflictual past experiences, cross-border flows and intercultural engagement have become a part of many citizens’ everyday life in border regions, therefore considered as laboratories of the European integration.
However, those have not been spared by the rise of populism and the growth of Euroscepticism. So how can we encourage civil society in border regions to participate in the debate on the future of Europe?
This is the core question of the project TEIN4citizens, co-financed by the Europe for Citizens programme, that started this month. With this question in mind and their deep knowledge of the borders’ specificities, the members of the Transfrontier Euro-Institut Network (TEIN) started to develop the Engaging civil society in cross-border regions for the future of Europe project. Consisting of 5 forums taking place between 2018 and 2020 in the 5 border regions of the 9 project partners, the project will enable citizens not only to deepen their understanding of the EU but also voice their opinion about current trends and EU policy making processes .
Over the course of the project 5 forums with live translation will take place in Strasbourg (FR, European Parliament), Girona (ES), Cieszyn (PL), Armagh/Newry (UK) and Klagenfurt/Villach (AU) and cover diverse pressing issues such as border security & Schengen, multilingualism & identity, EU citizenship & Human rights, EU Twin cities & civil society, and minorities & integration.
Each forum will gather local and EU level stakeholders, NGOs and experts from other borders together with 50 to 120 citizens from different social-economic backgrounds and with diverging opinions about European integration in order to propose conferences, debates, workshops and opportunities to get involved in cross border cooperation or in the EU policy making process.
The results of the forum will reach a much wider audience among citizens through the publication of the recommendations and the development of an online survey, both available in all project languages, but also among important actors such as MEPs thanks to the wide network of the project partners.