In May 2014, at the last European Elections, we – the citizens – cast our votes for MEPS trusting and hoping that they would represent our interests and implement the policies they presented and made pledges on during their respective campaigns.
Half-way through the European Parliament mandate, several European Civil Society Organisations gathered to reflect on what the Parliament had achieved, and to check up on the progress made against politicians’ promises and citizens’ demands: the On Our Watch project was born!
Now that we are in the midst of the 2019 European Elections, is the perfect moment to take a step back and have a look at the campaigns and manifestos put forward by civil society organisations around the 2014 elections, as well as their ‘new’ manifestos put forward for the 2019 election cycle. Have the commitments of MEPs on certain issues led to concrete action? Has the work of the parliament upheld politicians’ promises and did it answer citizens’ demands?
On Our Watch aims to use these reflections as a basis for discussion and dialogue with citizens. The work of the European Parliament, the issues at stake and how this influences citizens’ daily lives needs to be discussed on a continuous basis, not just around the European elections.
The On Our Watch project brings together Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on all kinds of topics. CSOs, as representatives of and in direct contact with citizens, have a strong role to play as watchdogs and in holding the Parliament accountable. By joining forces, we can offer a comprehensive half-way overview of the work of the Parliament, inform and debate with citizens, and most importantly: look ahead at what work there is left to do!
This project is developed by an open coalition of civil society organisations, in a participatory way and on the basis of co-creation, following the first presentation of the project idea at the Citizens for Europe Brussels Project Fair. The European Movement International, IHECS School of Journalism and Communication and the European Youth Forum have taken the lead in the project development, reaching out to other CSOs to join and input into the project as it was developing.
The European Movement International is a platform where civil society, trade unions, businesses, sectoral interests, academia, political parties and local authorities come together to shape the direction of the European project. It brings together 78 members based in 39 countries and acts as a promoter of active participation of citizens in the decisions that affect them. In this project, the European Movement International acts as an interface between citizens and civil society on the one hand, and the European institutions on the other, in order to engage and inform European citizens about the EU, and to support cooperation between CSOs.
Since 1958 the Institute for Higher Social Communication Studies (Institut des Hautes Etudes des Communications Sociales - IHECS) has been organising training in the field of journalism and communication. IHECS leads different European pilot teaching projects in journalism, citizenship and media literacy. It especially tends to develop innovative educational and media practices for an inclusive and participatory Europe, and to bridge the gap between university and non –formal education.
The European Youth Forum is the platform of youth organisations in Europe. Independent, democratic, youth-led, it represents over 100 National Youth Councils and international youth organisations from across the continent. The Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives, by representing and advocating their needs and interests and those of their organisations towards the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.