CERV – Project Time of Crisis – A Chanse for European unity

ruj 1, 2023 by

CERV – Project Time of Crisis – A Chanse for European unity



Program of activities




Summary of work performed and achievements, results and impacts

The project „Time of Crisis – A Chance for European unity“ was realized from from 27th to 30th April 2023.  in Town Klanjec. The project involved 373 citizens from the city of Klanjec (Croatia), Poland (Wilamowice), Austria (Nikitsch), Czech Republic (Dolni Benešov),  Hungary (Heviz), Slovakia (Rajecke Teplice), Spain (Ceonsello da Bana), Romania (Lupuc), Slovenia (Starše, Bistrica ob Sotli), Malta (Qrendi), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bihać) and Serbia (Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci).

The four-day event and meeting of citizens implemented within this project enabled the participants to actively participate in discussions and exchanges of oppionios on the current problems that the European Union is facing.

The first day, 27/04/2023 was dedicated to the arrival of participants, their accommodation, and then project activities starting with the Opening conference,  institutional greetings, presentation about the timetable of activities, and welcome dinner. We also held the project team meeting with coordinators from partner organizations.

On the second day, 28/04/2023 planned project activities started – workshops, presentations, seminars, debates, and discussions. Given the large number of direct participants in the activities, the participation of citizens in certain activities was agreed upon with the coordinators, in accordance with the expressed interests in certain topics, through ZOOM preparatory meeting held before the event. Part of the participants traveled to Zagreb and visited Croatian Parliament where the discussion “Differences between EU member states that compromise solidarity within the Union” and the seminar and discussion “EU level asylum – yes or no?” was held with the participation of Croatian parliamentarians, along with the official reception of the participants by the President of the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee. Participants also briefly attended the plenary session of the Croatian Parliament and got acquainted with its work.It was a platform for participants to express their opinions and thoughts about civil participation in decision-making processes on the EU level. Discussions showed there is not enough interaction and dialogue between citizens and elected representatives in EU Parliament. The common attitude of the participants expressed during these activities is that without solidarity there is no EU because the basis of its existence is lost. Insisting on solidarity, especially towards the most sensitive groups of citizens, but also towards those who are not part of the EU (Ukraine) is the best way to fight Euroscepticism.

The European House in Zagreb hosted the discussion “Human rights protection and fight against racism”, the workshop “EU is a project of peace – will we give up?” and the seminar “EU Cohesion Policy – decreasing unequally in health care of EU citizens”. A short presentation presented the EU institutions and their work, as well as the ways in which EU citizens can participate in decision-making processes. Some of the participants shared their personal experiences in public online discussions about the future of the EU. This encouraged others to start thinking about how there are channels through which they can convey their ideas, solutions, and criticism.

Some of the younger participants started with the experts from the House Collective a three-day workshop “Making short videos on equality – We different outside, but the same inside” with the seminar “Equal rights of rural areas to access digital technologies. The association “House Collective”, which operates in a rural area, shared its positive experiences in the active involvement of the residents, especially the elderly, in education and projects involving digital technology. During the workshop, the participants were continuously educated about the increase and the need to prevent racist and hateful posts on social media.

On the third day of the event (29/04/2023), in cooperation with the Regional Energy Agency, the presentation “Community energy for energy solidarity” and the workshop “Accelerator of citizens energy” were organized. REGEA shared very interesting examples of good practices that it is intensively working on, some of which are already in use, and citizens were given the opportunity to give their comments and ideas related to solutions for EU energy independence. This actual topic aroused great interest from the participants who showed great interest in the solutions offered by community energy. They also expressed the point of view that without the direct involvement of each individual and changes in our habits, the European Green Deal will not produce the results we all want.

During the “New European Bauhas” workshop, participants shared ideas from their communities that they believe fit into this EU policy, and further exchange of ideas and cooperation between representatives of cities and municipalities on possible joint projects was agreed upon. At the presentation “My personal story is not abstract figure – listen to me and try to understand”, a refugee from Ukraine Olha Nekhrysheva shared the experience of her family’s war suffering in Kherson, the refugee journey and creating a new life in Croatia. The participants had a very emotional experience of her story and gave a big round of applause to the Red Cross volunteers who take care of the refugees. The debate, which was very proactive afterward, revealed different approaches to migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Malta, and Spain. The participants expressed their opinion on the need for a harmonized EU migrant policy, without exceptions for individual members, the need for humane relations, and the protection of the human rights of migrants, especially women and children. The participants from Slovenia once again expressed their position on the wrong policy of their country, which placed razor wire on the border with Croatia, that destroyed flora and fauna and had no impact on the movement of migrants.

During the meeting, two evening cultural and artistic programs were held and the cultural diversity of the participants was presented, and once again it was shown that the multicultural EU values should be nurtured and developed. Short videos from the joint workshop on equality, anti-racism, and EU fundamental values were also shown.

On the fourth day, in cooperation with the Center for Peace Studies, a debate on the impact of COVID-19 and isolation on the increase in family violence and violence against women was organized. The discussion showed that all participants support zero tolerance on violence, the women especially emphasized the need for every citizen to personally react if they find out about the violence in their environment and that institutional assistance to victims of violence should be continuously improved, and that only the community can encourage them and that positive attitudes and enthusiasm of EU citizens can contribute to a stable future of the EU.

At the final conference where agreements were signed on future cooperation in Town Twinning and Network of Towns projects and joint action on the promotion of EU values, the desire was clearly expressed that in the future the EU becomes more of a Union of citizens, and that in order to achieve this, we must insist on achieving the fundamental values on which the EU is founded and on the greater participation of citizens in the democratic life of the EU.

Thus, citizens who directly or indirectly participated in this project gained valuable new experiences and through 15 different activities, lectures, seminars, presentations and joint work at workshops, adopted new knowledge about current EU policies, EU institutions and the way of decision-making at the EU level. Information was exchanged between the participants about the European Green Deal, NextGeneration EU, New European Bauhaus, which contributed to a better understanding of EU plans that should change Europe into a healthier, greener, more energy independent and digital continent in the coming period, and the ways in which citizens can actively participate in these changes. Examples of good practices that some local communities from which the participants of this project came from have already applied in these policies were actively discussed, as well as the possibilities of future mutual cooperation in these important EU policies. The activities of the project very successfully informed and encouraged the leaders of local communities and citizens to think about possible participation in future concrete civic energy projects in their communities. The participants took a very active part in the discussions about personal involvement in changes in current habits in the use of energy as one of the important assumptions for reducing the energy dependence of the EU in the future period. The activities that dealt with issues related to the care of displaced persons from Ukraine, as well as Russia and other areas outside the EU, stimulated a discussion on solidarity as one of the fundamental values of the EU. The participants shared their personal experiences in the reception and care of refugees. Participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and refugees from Ukraine who are currently in Croatia shared their thoughts on the refugee crisis after the start of the war in Ukraine, the good and bad sides in organizing and financing their acceptance, while the participants from Spain and Malta shared their experiences with the constant pressure of refugees from Africa and the often inhuman treatment of state authorities towards them. The common conclusion of the participants is that EU solidarity in moments of crisis creates unity among member states, but also among citizens and contributes to the acceptance of the EU as a community that we consider our common value.

Through the participation of citizens in discussions on these most current topics, the project contributed to strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the EU, but also to the sense of responsibility of citizens towards the future of the EU. More than 35% of citizens who participated in this project are not involved in the work of civil society and so far have not directly participated in similar programs. In this way, CERV programme was promoted as an important EU program that promotes civic participation, and in informal gatherings, the participants exchanged their rich experiences in volunteering, civic engagement and experiences and possible cooperation in similar projects.

The project, along with engaged experts, but also the mutual exchange of previous knowledge and experiences of the participants themselves, made it possible to increase the competences of citizens so that the well-informed could be involved in decision-making at the level of the EU and at the level of the member states, with an understanding of political, legal, social and economic policies of the EU.

A part of the activity was organized in the City of Klanjec, and part in Zagreb, in the Croatian Parliament, in order to emphasize the value of citizen participation in democratic decision-making and the House of Europe, with an amphasis on the European dimension of the project and all the advantages of EU membership.

Project participants found some important conclusions:

  1. Migrant crisis, changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, inflation show how united we can more easily resist in times of crisis and that the only safe way for the survival and further development of the EU in the future is to return to and insist on fundamental values on which the Union is founded. The citizens who participated in this program believe that there should be no exceptions and that the EU should decisively use the instruments at its disposal to ensure the protection of EU values in all member states equally, and they believe that this is the best way to fight against Euroscepticism, but and populist national policies of individual members.
  2. Security is very important to citizens, they are worried about current geopolitical events and expect better and much clearer concept of defense and in advance planned clearer EU policy for crisis situations.
  3. Given that a large number of participants come from countries with less developed economies, they hope that the European Green Deal and NextGenerationEU will really succeed and that the differences in the regional development of the EU will be reduced in this way. They agreed that this is exactly how Europe is envisioned, the one in which they would like to live in the future.
  4. Pluralism of opinions expressed during the meeting, balanced participation of citizens of different gender, age, national and religious affiliation, geographical distribution of partner organizations, participation of partners from non-member countries, representatives of national minorities, local public bodies, civil society organizations, volunteers, experts for certain EU policies, intercultural exchange during the meeting, were evaluated by the participants as a very useful experience and an important incentive for their participation in the new CERV programs, which they will recommend to other citizens and organizations.
  5. The participants concluded that this CERV program also showed that it is possible to reach common conclusions through a constructive exchange of opinions, reasoned discussion, respect for diversity and tolerance, and that this is exactly the way decisions should be made at the EU level with as much citizen participation as possible.

The project activities encouraged the participants to actively participate in the creation of the future of the EU with their comments and ideas, and in this way the main goal of the project was achieved: to encourage active citizen participation in solving current problems that have a long-term impact on their daily lifes within the Union.

Sažetak projekta ” Vrijeme krize – šansa za europsko zajedništvo”

Projekt „Vrije krize – šansa za europsko zajedništvo” realiziran je 27. do 30 travnja 2023.  u Gradu Klanjcu. U projektu su sudjelovala 374 građana iz Grada Klanjca (Hrvatska), Poljske (Wilamowice), Austrije (Nikitsch), Republike Češke (Dolni Benešov),  Mađarske (Heviz), Slovačke (Rajecke Teplice), Španjolske (Concello da Bana), Rumunjske (Lupuc), Slovenije (Starše, Bistrica ob Sotli), Malte (Qrendi), Bosne i Hercegovine (Bihać) i Srbije (Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci).
Četverodnevni susret građana realiziran u okviru ovog projekta omogućio je sudionicima aktivno sudjelovanje u raspravama i razmjeni mišljenja o aktualnim problemima s kojima se u ovom trenutku suočava Europska unija.
Građani koji su izravno ili neizravno sudjelovali u ovom projektu stekli su vrijedna nova iskustva te kroz 15 različitih aktivnosti, predavanja, seminara, prezentacije i zajedničkog rada na radionicama usvojili nova znanja o aktualnim politikama EU, institucijama EU i načinu donošenja odluka na razini EU. Razmjenjene su informacije između sudionika o Europskom zelenom planu,  NextGenerationEU, Novom europskom Bauhausu koje su doprinijele boljem razumijevanju planova EU koji bi trebali promijeniti Europu u zdraviji, zeleniji, energetski neovisniji i digitalniji kontinent u narednom razdoblju te načinima na koji građani mogu aktivno sudjelovati u tim promjenama. Aktivno se raspravljalo o primjerima dobre prakse koje su pojedine lokalne zajednice iz kojih su došli sudionici ovog projekta već primijenile u ovim politikama, ali i o mogućnostima buduće međusobne suradnje u ovim važnim EU politikama. Aktivnostima projekta se vrlo uspješno informiralo i potaknulo čelnike lokalnih zajednica i građane na razmišljanje o mogućem sudjelovanju u budućim konkretnim projektima građanske energije u njihovim sredinama. Sudionici su vrlo aktivno sudjelovali u raspravama o osobnom angažmanu u promjenama dosadašnjih navika u korištenju energije kao jednoj od važnih pretpostavki smanjenja energetske ovisnosti EU u budućem razdoblju.
Aktivnostima koje su se bavile pitanjima vezanim uz zbrinjavanje raseljenih osoba iz Ukrajine, ali i Rusije i drugih područja izvan EU, potaknuta je rasprava o solidarnosti kao jednoj od temeljnih vrijednosti EU. Sudionici su podijelili svoja osobna iskustva u prihvatu i zbrinjavanju izbjeglica. Sudionici iz Bosne i Hercegovine, Poljske, Slovačke, Češke, Rumunjske te izbjeglice iz Ukrajine koje se trenutno nalaze u Hrvatskoj podijelili su svoja razmišljanja o izbjegličkoj krizi nakon početka rata u Ukrajini, dobrim i lošim stranama u organizaciji i financiranju njihova prihvata, dok su sudionici iz Španjolske i Malte podijelili svoja iskustva sa stalnim pritiskom izbjeglica iz Afrike te često nehumanim postupanjem državnih vlasti prema njima.
Zajednički zaključak sudionika je da solidarnost EU u kriznim trenutcima stvara zajedništvo među državama članicama, ali i građanima i doprinosi prihvaćanju EU kao zajednice koju smatramo svojom zajedničkom vrijednošću.
Sudjelovanjem građana u raspravama o ovim najaktualnijim temama projekt je doprinio jačanju demokratskog legitimiteta EU, ali i osjećaju odgovornosti građana prema budućnosti EU. Više od 35% građana koji su sudjelovali u ovom projektu nisu uključeni u rad civilnog društva i do sada nisu izravno sudjelovali u sličnim programima. Na taj način promoviran je CERV kao važan program EU koji promovira građansko sudjelovanje, a u neformalnim druženjima sudionici su razmijenili svoja bogata iskustva u volontiranju, građanskom angažmanu i iskustvima te mogućoj suradnji u sličnim projektima.
Projekt je uz angažirane stručnjake, ali i međusobnu razmjenu dosadašnjih znanja i iskustava samih sudionika, omogućio povećanje kompetencija građana kako bi se dobro informirani mogli uključiti u donošenju odluka na razini EU-a i na razini država članica, uz razumijevanje političkih, pravnih, društvenih i ekonomskih politika EU. 
Dio aktivnosti organiziran je u Gradu Klanjcu, a dio u Zagrebu i to u Hrvatskom saboru kako bi se naglasile vrijednosti građanskog sudjelovanja u demokratskom odlučivanju te Kući Europe s naglaskom na europsku dimenziju projekta i sve prednosti članstva u EU.

Važni zaključci sudionika projekta:
1. Migrantske krize, promjene uzrokovane pandemijom Covida-19, ratom u Ukrajini, energetskom krizom, inflacijom pokazuju kako se ujedinjeni možemo lakše oduprijeti u kriznim trenutcima te da je jedini siguran put za opstanak i daljnji razvoj EU u budućnosti povratak i inzistiranje na temeljnim vrijednostima na kojima je Unija utemeljena. Građani koji su sudjelovali u ovom programu smatraju da ne bi trebalo biti iznimaka i da EU treba odlučno iskoristiti instrumente koji su joj na raspolaganju kako bi se osigurala zaštita EU vrijednosti u svim državama članicama podjednako te smatraju da je to najbolji način borbe protiv euroskepticizma, ali i populističkih nacionalnih politika pojedinih članica.
2. Građanima je sigurnost vrlo važna, zabrinuti su zbog aktualnih  geopolitičkih događanja te očekuju bolji i puno jasniji koncept obrane i jasnije EU politike unaprijed planirane za krizne situacije.
3. S obzirom na to da velik broj sudionika dolazi iz zemalja s manje razvijenim gospodarstvima nadaju se da će European Green Deal, NextGenerationEU doista uspjeti i da će se na taj način smanjiti i razlike u regionalno razvijenosti EU. Složili su se da je upravo tako zamišljena Europa, ona u kojoj bi u budućnosti željeli živjeti.
4. Pluralizam mišljenja izraženih tijekom susreta, uravnoteženo sudjelovanje građana različitog spola, dobi, nacionalne i vjerske pripadnosti, geografska rasprostranjenost partnerskih organizacija, sudjelovanje partnera iz zemalja nečlanica, predstavnika nacionalnih manjina, local public body, organizacija civilnog društva, volontera, stručnjaka za pojedine EU politike, međukulturna razmjena tijekom susreta, ocijenjeni su od strane sudionika kao vrlo korisno iskustvo i važan poticaj za njihovo sudjelovanje u novim CERV programima koje će preporučiti i drugim građanima i organizacijama.
5. Sudionici su zaključili kako je i ovaj CERV program pokazao da je moguće konstruktivnom razmjenom mišljenja, argumentiranom raspravom, uvažavanjem različitosti i tolerancijom doći do zajedničkih zaključaka te je upravo to način na koji se trebaju donositi odluke na razini EU uz što izraženiju participaciju građana.

Projektne aktivnosti  potaknule su sudionike da svojim komentarima i idejama aktivno sudjeluju u kreiranju budućnosti EU te je na taj način ostvaren glavni cilj projekta: potaknuti aktivno građansko sudjelovanje u rješavanju aktualnih problema koji dugoročno utječu na njihov svakodnevni život unutar Unije.

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