Transeuropa Caravans: The roads to European democracy
On the year of the European Parliament elections, a group of young activists will be travelling throughout fifteen European countries on board of five caravans reaching out to places of struggle and resistance, in defense of fundamental rights beyond borders. We will travel to meet directly European citizens, connect their stories, and mobilize together to promote our electoral rights and participation throughout Europe.
CENTRAL EASTERN ROUTE
[Germany – Austria – Slovakia – Hungary]
Civic spaces are an extension of the civil society, and when they function freely, they serve as a platform for our public, social and political lives. If they function properly and without restrictions, they can be the settings where social and political change can happen. Across the globe, governments are shutting down spaces for civic and political engagement. The closing of civic space is not just about people’s right to organize or protest in individual countries. With the Central Eastern route, we are going to travel across three countries where activists and civil society are suffering the harsher consequences of illiberal and neo-fascist democracies. Ahead of the European elections, we are going to travel to meet the movements and citizens that are organising to resist and confront the rise of these dangerous tendencies.
[France – Spain – Portugal]
Cities are the scene of resistance and innovation, often in terms of spontaneous ruptures: the place where social protests erupt and mutual cooperation unfolds, where street mobilisations and processes of cultural creation and productive innovation emerge. The European Commission has recently stressed the leading role of cities and metropolitan areas and the need for stronger coordination and exchange between them. More than 70% of Europeans live in urban areas, where 75% of energy consumption and 80% of emissions are also concentrated, placing them at the core of the environmental crisis. Precisely in such a critical context, cities – as was the case in crucial moments of transition in European history – can play again a leading role. The Western route is going to travel to meet city representatives and citizens’ initiatives in order to promote the exchange of best-practices between governments and activists, and raise awareness of the importance that cities play in the international arena.
[Italy – Slovenia – Croatia]
In times of enclosure of civic spaces, close waters and minds, migration and borders are often nuanced with an aggressive and defensive tone. Mobility and shifting political lines are part of human history instead and this is specifically accurate for the countries involved in this route, whose current nation states were developed from convergences of diverse cultures, religions and traditions that put in question political borders. Areas of frontiers, there were lands of plurality that find in cross cutting their natural dynamic. What are the conditions and the reasons of migration processes now and back in the past? How can we support a better understanding of these in times of xenophobia, racial crimes and privatization of public spaces under the label of public safety and personal wellbeing? We wish to acknowledge the role of migration in the current richness and composition of our nations states and the necessity of crossing borders including the invisible ones, the cultural and social borders within our cities, to promote a less polarized Europe. The activists engaged in this route will travel across three European countries whose cultural and historical DNA is rooted in migration and hospitality, where EU and Non EU migrants are already inhabiting across borders world, moving from one country to the other. They wish to promote a meaningful conversation with local initiatives and people to heal our social fabrics from the polarization and radicalization wanted by the official political narrative that feed social anger and ignite process of othering in our society, at risk of becoming more and more unwelcoming environments.
[Sweden – Finland – Estonia]
European integration transformed the Baltic Sea from a frontier into a shared Mare Nostrum between the Nordic and Baltic countries of the Union, the only ones above 55° latitude at Europe’s northern tip. On the one hand, Nordic countries share vast uninhabited landscapes and relatively small populations with a long-standing tradition of care for the environment: they recycle, prefer public transport and bicycles and see the nature as a public good that needs to be protected. They demonstrate global leadership in the fight against climate change by aiming to be carbon-neutral in the near future and lead in renewables – housing the world’s biggest solar plant and for example. On the other hand, the struggle for energetic independence of the Baltic states has been emblematic of their broader quest for emancipation from the Soviet past and embracing the common European future. The key to achieving it has been found in diversity. How does the ‘green’ dimension of European citizenship blend with its other colours? What are the legal, social and geopolitical challenges all these countries face and the lessons to be learnt from their pioneering journey away from an anthropocentric worldview? How do mobile EU citizens in these countries see their lives and democratic role in squaring the circle between these processes? These are the questions that will guide the caravan on the Baltic route. In two weeks, four brave and adventurous European citizens will explore the roads to sustainable European integration looking for ways to keep the doors equally open for all citizens and their environment.
[Poland – Czech Republic – Slovakia]
The Visegrad Caravan will cross Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic under the slogan of “Little Europe”. It will stop in small towns and cities – clusters of non-citizens who work in the European Union. Are they aware of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament? Do they consider it important? What do they think about the relationship between the elections and their situation as residents of Europe? Caravan participants will seek answers to these questions using community art tools, performative activities and engaged theatre technics.