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European Citizens' Initiative

CitizenCentral Podcast

CitizenCentral puts a spotlight on European citizens’ initiatives. In each episode, initiative organisers and supporters tell us why their initiative is important, how they experience raising awareness at EU level, and share tips as they aim to have a greater say in polices that affect our lives.

Interviews with different policy experts and academics further explore the issues put forward by these citizen initiatives.

You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and SoundCloud.

The opinions expressed in the podcasts reflect solely the point of view of the speakers and can in no way be taken to reflect the position of the European Commission or of the European Union.

Meet the people behind European citizens' initiatives in the episode show notes below.

2.2: Citizen lobbyists and future leaders: Hear the voices of young Europeans

In this chapter, we hear from a group of Europeans 26-and-under from 9 different EU countries as they share ideas on voting, EU policymaking, citizen activism and the European Citizens’ Initiative. They also tell us what ideas they would like to see turned into citizens’ initiatives.

We also hear from Daniela Vancic from Democracy International, and Paco Camas of public opinion research company Ipsos. Daniela argues that the ECI and other participatory tools help young people engage with the issues they care about, and Paco gives us facts and figures on young people’s participation in the EU today.

Finally, we hear from two organisers of the citizens’ initiative “Ending the aviation fuel tax exemption in Europe” (also called ‘Fairosene’). These two young citizen lobbyists reflect upon their campaign and why it ended on a high note.

2.1: Recycling and VAT rates: Meet Europeans in search of sustainable solutions

Featuring ‘ReturnThePlastics’ and ‘Green VAT’

CitizenCentral returns for a second season! Join us as we talk with two citizen initiatives’ organisers taking different approaches to sustainability and consumer behaviour, as well as three climate and sustainability experts across the EU.

Omar Pérez of the ‘ReturnThePlastics’ initiative explains how this group of organisers aim to replicate recycling systems that already exist in several EU countries. As the results of existing systems start to show, their idea is to install an EU-wide deposit scheme to recycle plastic bottles, using reverse vending machines in supermarkets. A big question remains – who should pay for this system?

Brigitta Hartmann represents the ‘Green VAT’ initiative, which calls for tax reductions on organic, sustainably produced or environmentally friendly products in Europe. The goal is to both give consumers more choice and encourage companies to rethink how products are produced. But, one might ask, would there still be a tax base if all the products become green?

1.7: European Citizens’ Initiative @10: new initiatives and fond memories

Featuring ‘Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics’, ‘Stop Global Warming – a price for carbon to fight climate change’ and ‘Fraternité 2020 - Mobility. Progress. Europe.’ ECIs

In 2022 we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the ECI, and in this chapter we meet organisers from the past, present and (potentially) future - Simona Pronckutė, Dr Julia Baines and Virginia Fiume.

Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics is a current initiative aiming to fully ban cosmetics ingredient tests on animals and modernise animal-free science. And they want to become the fastest ECI to reach 1 million signatures! After two years of campaigning and the signature collection period closing in the summer of 2021, Virginia Fiume shares insightful reflections from the Stop Global Warming initiative. She and her colleagues have channelled their experience with the ECI into the project and promise to be back!

Finally, we hear from an organiser of the first-ever registered ECI ‘Fraternité 2020 - Mobility. Progress. Europe.’ What was Simona’s experience like 10 years ago – and how has taking part in an ECI influenced her life?

Note: Response of the European Chemicals Agency to animal testing and the PETA campaign:

1.6: Vaccines and copyright - meet the Europeans fighting for changes in EU policies

Featuring ‘Freedom to Share’, and ‘Right to Cure’ ECIs

This chapter of CitizenCentral shines a light on copyright and intellectual property (IP) rights. Gregory Engels, representing the Freedom to Share initiative, aims to influence European copyright law and legalise file sharing via digital networks. Julie Steendam, on the other hand, represents the ‘Right to Cure’ (also called ‘No profit on pandemic’) initiative which calls on the European Commission to make sure all vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus are available to everyone world-wide and at no cost. Both break down complicated topics related to the impact of copyright and intellectual property laws, our freedom and the cost we pay.

1.5: Conscious consumers – meet Europeans fighting climate change in creative ways

Featuring ‘Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorship’ and 'European EcoScore’ ECIs

In the fifth chapter of CitizenCentral we hear from Silvia Pastorelli and Antoine Thill – two organisers striving to help hold companies responsible and help consumers make sustainable choices – each in different ways. The Ban Fossil Fuel Ads initiative aims for an EU legislative act prohibiting advertisements for fossil fuels, including for road and water-borne transportation that is powered by fossil fuels. It takes inspiration from the ban on tobacco advertisement already in place across the EU and looks to make systemic change for the climate crisis. Meanwhile, organisers of the European EcoScore initiative want a compulsory label providing European consumers with transparent information about the environmental impact of products manufactured or sold in the EU.

Both initiatives were registered and started signature collection in mid-2021 - listen to how it is going for them so far.

1.4: Meet the Europeans trying to reclaim our faces and alleviate poverty across the continent

Featuring ‘Reclaim Your Face’ and 'Start Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) throughout the EU’ ECIs

In the fourth chapter of CitizenCentral we hear from Ella Jakubowska and Catarina Neves - discussing different ways to protect fundamental rights and reduce inequality across the EU. Reclaim Your Face - the Civil society initiative for a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices is trying to strictly regulate the use of biometric technologies in order to avoid undue interference with fundamental rights. The nuances in how people, companies and governments are using technology – and for what purposes and how this impacts our lives – get covered in this episode. The organisers of Start Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) throughout the EU want the European Commission to make a proposal for universal basic income throughout the EU, to improve the welfare for European citizens in all Member States.

1.3: Hear the voices behind the European green wave

Featuring ‘Stop Finning – Stop the Trade’, ‘Green Garden Roof Tops’ and ‘Grow scientific progress: crops matter’ ECIs

In the third chapter of CitizenCentral we hear from Nils Kluger, Almog Sade and Martina Helmlinger - covering environmental topics on land and in the sea. The Stop Finning - Stop the Trade citizens’ initiative aims to end the trade with shark fins within the EU. The Green Garden Roof Tops initiative – launched by two siblings and a group of friends – wants to use existing empty space on corporations’ rooftops to convert into green areas. We also hear from a Grow scientific progress: crops matter initiative organiser. The initiative closed in the summer of 2021, yet her reflections offer many tips for people wanting to work on an ECI.

1.2: Power to the people - hear the voices who want to break down the borders in Europe

Featuring ‘Civil Servant Exchange Program’ and ‘Voters Without Borders’ ECIs

In the second chapter of CitizenCentral we hear from Adam Mazoyer and Rosalie van den Brink as they discuss two European citizens’ initiatives focused on strengthening civic engagement in our communities. The Civil Servant Exchange Program (CSEP) aims to help civil servants learn from one another and better address transnational issues - from natural disasters to cybersecurity and beyond. The Voters Without Borders initiative makes a case for increasing the democratic rights of EU citizens who want to vote in national elections where they live.

1.1: Welcome to CitizenCentral

Featuring ‘Fridays for Future’ and ‘Save Bees and Farmers’ ECIs

Tune in to the first chapter of CitizenCentral to listen to Paula Reyes and Helmut Burtscher as they discuss two European citizens’ initiatives with signature collection periods ending in late-September 2021. ‘Actions on Climate Emergency’ (closing 23 September 2021) and ‘Save bees and Farmers! Towards a bee-friendly agriculture for a healthy environment’ (closing 30 September 2021) are two of the many citizens’ initiatives related to climate change and biodiversity over the years.

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