On Thursday 21 February, ahead of a meeting of EU leaders, another TOGETHER event took place, this time in the inspiring environment of the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.The main topic of the panel and the interactive discussion with the public was interactive participation in the run-up to the next European elections.
The meeting was opened by Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists (PES), who strongly supported the Spitzenkandidaten (lead candidate) process and even went a step further when he suggested that the PES could in the first time in history hold a democratic primary between two candidates who will compete for the Commission’s top job. The audience, as well as the panellists, supported the idea, believing that it would inject more democracy into the EU elections where the turnout is steadily falling.
The debate proceeded with a discussion on how to engage citizens and convince them that their vote matters. John Crombez, leader of the Belgian Flemish social democratic party Sp.a summarised the situation by saying that: “Privatisation of services for the common good such as education and public transport, together with the long term lack of public investment, prevents citizens believing that their vote really matters”.
SOLIDAR believes that grassroots movements and dialogue with citizens are the key instruments for mobilisation, but these must be backed up by a strong political agenda and policy proposals that will stop and ultimately reverse the rising inequalities in Europe.