Why EUMANS is holding its Congress in Warsaw (Updated after the escalation of the War in Ukraine)

On the 11th and 12th of March EUMANS will hold its Congress in Warsaw, Poland. The title, the program, the format, the political objectives of this important appointment are the output of a participatory process that we launched during our Weekly Meetings, the EUMANS Members Assembly and on EUMANS Agora. What you find below is the Concept Note from which we started to build EUMANS in Warsaw - The Open Congress of Citizens for Freedom, Democracy and Sustainability.  [This article has been updated after the escalation of the war in Ukraine launched as an aggression by Russia - the Congress is confirmed]
 

Democracy and the rule of law are violated all around Europe. Their defense cannot be entrusted only to national governments. European citizens are needed for a paneuropean action to affirm civil and political rights across and beyond national frontiers.

Poland, together with Hungary, is recognised as the most blatant case of systematic violation of the rule of law because of the steady governamental action against separation of powers and autonomy of the judiciary (besides authoritarian policies on civil rights like abortion and lgbtq+).

The 7th of October decision by the Constitutional tribunal to reject the supremacy of EU law and jurisdiction represents a frontal attack on the EU as a supranational institution. Some EU Governments replied with outrage, others are more cautious. The approach of governments such as the Polish and the Hungarian once, shows the need for a European Union based on rights. Being too harsh against “peers” could sooner or later backfire when their own violations will be under scrutiny.

Citizens do not have this worry. People can appreciate the importance of defending democracy everywhere, without the fear of this being counterproductive at home. On the contrary, strengthening democratic rule of law abroad can only have positive influence on democracy within the EU institutions (which are far from democratic) and in your own country. National Governments tend to compete for power but cooperate in defending it from citizens. Citizens are free to cooperate for the common good regardless of nationality, if only tools are given to them.

In order to activate, reinforce and build those tools, the pan european movement “Eumans - citizens for democracy and sustainability” will convene in Warsaw its founding congress.
 

Rule of law, civil freedoms, climate change, participatory democracy are the main subjects for discussion and transnational crossparty action. Instead of just pointing the finger against a specific Government, the ambition is to create a civic network for common goals toward a more open and democratic Europe.

In today's global scenario, the US has abandoned its role as guarantor of the liberal order, and Asia's economic leadership is in the hands of the Chinese authoritarian model. Europe retains its contradictions and is still paying the price for an unfinished process of community building, but it remains the place where democracy has the best chance of overcoming the crisis phase it has been going through for the last years, and re-proposing itself in a renewed form, strengthened by the participation of citizens. Indeed, while European national governments may have an electoral interest in competing and clashing with each other, European citizens have everything to gain from cooperation and the harmonisation of rights. This can only be achieved if the European instruments of direct democracy are adapted to this common need, bypassing national interests with popular participation.

In this context, Poland is a symbol of the cracks in the European Union and of a new nationalist drift that is undermining the rule of law and civil rights in the heart of the old continent. Eumans, as a pan-european movement of popular initiative, will hold its founding congress in Warsaw because we believe that it is precisely where European democracy is going through its hardest crisis that it should be relaunched and revitalised.

THE VALUE OF THE CONGRESS IN WARSAW

Poland is a plastic representation of the practices of the integration process of the European Union as well as of the functioning of the European Union, starting from its “role” in the European Council dynamics.
At the same time, it is also a powerful symbol in the collective imaginary of activists - as the real playing field of the future of Europe.

KEY TOPICS IN THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC SPHERE

- The independence of the judiciary system and the protection of the rule of law
- Civil Rights, in particular those that are needed by women and LGBTQ+ people are continuously put in danger by the Conservative government
- An economy and a job market that are strongly rooted on coal and not renewable energies dependency 
 

THE PANEUROPEAN APPROACH OF THE LOCAL CIVIL SOCIETY IN POALND AND THE ACTIVATION OF INSTRUMENTS OF PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY 

- In January 2020 Polish Judges call for a large demonstration (one of the latest before the Pandemic) to draw the attention of the European Union on the fragility of the Polish Judiciary system due to some “reforms'' related to the retiring age of judges and different forms of control. Polish Judges explicitly called for the support of other Judges and activists from the European Union. Marco Cappato, President of EUMANS was the only Italian political activist to join the demonstrations.

- In 2021 Polish women accelerated their initiatives for abortion rights. After years of demonstrations in the streets, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of citizens, activists decided to transform their proposals for the legalization of abortion into a bill of popular iniative, on which 100.000 signaturs are needed to become a bill that can be discussed by the Parliament

- In October 2021, the decision of the Constitutional Court to overturn the role of National Laws against Treaties caused an incredible popular reaction. On the weekend of the 9th and 10th of October over 100.000 people took over the streets in over 120 places.

THE POLITICAL OBJECTIVES OF THE OPEN CONGRESS OF CITIZENS FOR FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND SUSTAINABILITY

Rule of Law and Democracy:

  • identify a pan-European goal for the protection of the rule of law that can be supported by EU citizens and that can strengthen the efforts of the European Commission and the European Parliament
     
  • back up any campaign that supports the recommendation of the Citizens Panel of the Conference on the Future of Europe with regards to the institutionalization of the EU Referendum, the permanent European Citizens Assembly, and the abolition of the Veto Power within the European Council which holds EU democracy and reforms hostages of national politic


Freedoms

  • Definition, promotion and deployment of a pan-European initiative for the European Living Will
  • Launch of the Euroepan Citizens Initiative for Cannabis Legalization
  • Analysis and promotion of initiatives that insert Sexual and Reproductive Health, as well as individual freedoms of LGBTQIA+ people in the framework of the European Union regulation, starting from the expansion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the "portability of civil rights"


Sustainability


Recourse to international justice
The dramatic events of the war in Ukraine have once again laid bare the need to strengthen international justice.

In the face of the war crimes that Russia is perpetrating with the invasion of Ukraine, it is necessary to appeal to all international bodies and jurisdictions for this purpose. 

To invoke the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court would allow precise mapping of all the acts likely to fall under the jurisdiction of the Court, identifying from time to time those responsible, and of course, the top leaders, Putin in the lead, guilty of all possible charges. 

Unfortunately, Ukraine has not ratified the Statute of the Court, which would allow the immediate activation of the protection mechanisms. That's why we join the appeal of No Peace Without Justice to President Zelenski to refer to this issue, which certainly would not put an end to the Russian threat in the immediate future, but could have a great symbolic value and be added to other tools that can be made available to the Ukrainian people to help them in their struggle for freedom and independence.

A European Citizens Assembly for an EU Foreign Defence Policy

The selfishness of nation-states and the absence of a truly federal project in the European integration process have prevented the EU from acquiring adequate competencies to speak with one voice in foreign and defense policy.

This is not only damage to the geopolitical power of the Union, but above all, a damage to its citizens, forced to remain spectators of the decisions of the global superpowers.

It is for this reason that European citizens, consulted in the "EU in the World/Migration" Panel of the Conference on the Future of Europe, have adopted a series of recommendations asking the European institutions to take a big step forward in the sharing of policies in this field. For example, the recommendation of February 11 and 12 approved in Maastricht calls for the creation of the 'Joint Armed Forces of the European Union', the removal of the unanimity rule in foreign policy matters within the Council, the reduction of dependencies from oil and gas imports (in order to allow both the autonomy of Europe in energy policy as well as ambitious climate and CO2 reduction targets).

Eumans asks that the definition of these recommendations must be entrusted to the citizens themselves, through the establishment of a Citizens Assembly on EU Foreign, Defense and Energy Policy, according to international best practices. On this objective we have called the demonstration of March 13, 2021 in Warsaw, moved also by the idea that only a radical reform of policies and competences in this area will allow Europe to really help the Ukrainian people harassed by the Russian invasion.


Design of the paneuropean citizens movement

  • Accelerate the creation of the "European Association Statute"
  • Define the criteria and rules of engagement for a fully functioning civic platform where citizens are empowered to act for democracy, freedom, and sustainability through the activation of participatory democracy instruments
  • Embody the reforms needed at the institutional level within the statute of EUMANS, starting from sortition based assembly mechanism, collaboration with experts and evidence-based policymakers and initiatives to promote information on participatory democracy instruments
     


PURPOSES AND OUTPUTES OF THE CONGRESS

The goal is to create a network of European activists who share common goals on freedoms, civil rights, ecology and democracy and are ready to activate instruments of direct and participatory democracy addressing the European Union.

Individuals, grassroots organisations, campaigners and activists interested in the topics that are going to be discussed at the Congress are welcome to join in Warsaw but most importantly in taking part in the co-creative process to design EU proposals that can be discussed during the 2-days event in Warsaw. The output of the Congress will be a set of proposals for EU-legislative reforms based on evidence-based analysis of each issue and an exchange of experience among the participants. For each proposal the appropriate instrument of participatory democracy will be identified in order to hook the proposal into the democratic framework of the European Union. A strategy framework of direct actions and other forms of popular initiative will be developed. 

JOIN THE EUMANS CONGRESS IN WARSAW