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Home / Journal / Transeuropa assemblies: for a transnational bright future 

The Transeuropa Assemblies cover a vast range of very different topics, from workers rights in Germany to end-of-life decisions in Belgium, but also including civil liberties in Italy or EU gender-rights in Spain.

The strength of this initiative precisely comes from the diversity of issues that it covers, paired with its transnational dimension and the involvement of communities across borders.

So what is the commonality between an Amazon unionist in Bremen, Germany and a pro abortion-right feminist activist in Barcelona, Spain? Well to put it in a nutshell: the trust in civil society’s power for activating change, with our old and cranky institutions merely needed for validating new policies that they almost have no choice but to pass through to avoid a global rebellion. When citizens and residents of France take on the streets to protest against police violence by setting fire, we should try and see beyond the smoke because the real message is: we know you’re not going to act, so we will. We know you’re not going to listen, so we will scream until your ears bleed. But by doing so, the divide between weakly-elected representatives (weakly as less and less people turn out to the polls, therefore one might wonder how representative they are) and the frustrated population they are meant to represent and who in majority did not vote for them, is just getting stronger and stronger. 

Democracy as it exists, in its core, is to date the best form of political regime we know in order to guarantee individual freedom. Can it be criticised? Of course? Can it be improved? To a certain extent, yes it can. And that is precisely what we are doing with the Transeuropa Assemblies. One assembly after the other, one locality after one other space involved, we show that the global aspect of societal struggles necessarily calls for a transnational approach to solving the 21st century main challenges, be it ensuring global social justice or fighting to limit the effects of climate change. 

The Transeuropa Assemblies continue to inspire us, and hopefully you too, as a form of open and participative democracy where anyone has a place and a voice of their own. I let you now read about two of the past Transeuropa Assemblies, to give you a taste of what innovative democracy can do to help and create a society enabling its citizens to take effective action for a common bright future. 

Theatre and civic action 

The Transnational Assembly of Workers Solidarity: On Ecological Syndicalism was hosted in the creativity-fostering premises of the Theatre of Bremen. The assembly used a futuristic scenario to enable experimental learning and to support participants to experience the methodology first hand and in an action oriented context. 

This methodology of assembly is adapted from the work of Augusto Boal (theatre of the oppressed) and Paulo Friere, mixed with methodologies coming from deliberative democracy, with a view to enabling citizens to think about their own responsibility to act, to be able to step out of their personal circumstances and potentially take on a different role in the future, and to be able to project themselves into the future and plan today what they would want to put in place. This form of assembly is also an experiment in ‘futures literacy’, which integrates the idea that imagination, anticipation and adaptability are crucial civic competences.

The fictitious scenario displayed the world in 2023, in which as a consequence of the climate crisis a heat wave struck, causing heightened levels of civil unrest. The assembly presented several societal responses to the crisis and the participants were then asked to join into the storyline and find solutions collectively. 

Assembled in small groups, the participants deliberated about civic responses on three levels: the personal (a), the worker’s (b) and the community’s (c). Participants were asked to embody and think as humans, workers and citizens – they all are. European Alternatives facilitated the process and moderators gave shape to the small group discussions, which were aided by textual and visual documentation.

The interlinked and deepening ecological and social crises shape the lives of people throughout Europe in different ways, and so the assembly set a frame and methodology in which people can be empowered to address these circumstances and collectively claim new rights on a transnational scale, whilst turning resolutely towards the future. 

Policy orientations: 

 i) promote civil society organisations, unions and activists working together in new formats to collectively address the poly-crisis; 

ii) secure and empower the participation of the most marginalised and at risk 

iii) the extension of rights at work and the right to live in a stable climate must go together

The decision of a lifetime