International Civic and Citizenship Study (2009) states that differences in civic engagement and participation exist between Western and Eastern Europe countries. Other studies (Coffé, 2009) have shown that former East Bloc countries have lower levels of participation. Research “Youth Future Civic Participation in Europe(..)’'(2009) states that comparing countries within the group of new democracies, observed that students from the Eastern Europe have lower levels of expected future participation than the established democracies.
The theme of the project reflects general objective of the programme “To foster European citizenship and to improve conditions for civic and democratic participation at Union level”
Promotion of knowledge about social capital – as the civic participation form, trainings about European citizen’s initiative and new forms of civic engagement to be presented during the conferences and other events.
Since social capital is seen derived from the cooperation between individuals and groups then ”Round table discussion” can stimulate cooperation, concentrating on annual priorities of the program in 2013:
- EU: values, rights and opportunities for Citizens;
- Citizens participation in the democratic life of the EU.
The social capital is one of the first steps of trust building activities, those leading to the wider EU related civic engagement activities. We amuse that social capital is one of the major tools to foster EU values, rights and opportunities for citizens. Therefore the purpose of the project is execute program of carefully selected activities to promote development and accumulation of social capital leading to citizens participation in the democratic life. The special stress of the project are “round table discussion’’ – those to be held within national and international contexts and different new and existing forms/tools of civic engagement, not well known by youth.
It is important to stress youth as a target group. Young people like to have their own experience that foster commitment and skill development in chosen topic. Proposed activities in Eastern Europe countries will supply target group with opportunities to learn, engage and finally impact EU processes through discussions, learnings, trainings, workshop and common work, resulting in the development of guide developed by “youth for youth”. The participants will have chance to take leadership roles, to be active and challenge others to do the same. Hence they involvement in the project activities will support their interests and provide further input in democratic engagement.
Overall objective: Contribute to the development of civic participation at EU countries with transition economies by promotion of the social capital and European citizen’s initiative within youth sector.
Conferences, round table discussions and trainings in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Romania are going to be main forms of activities.