Citizens’ consultation on the commons in Europe

This consultation on the commons was organised by European Alternatives and brought together representatives of social mobilisations and civil society organisations to debate issues related to the commons in Romania and the EU.

Here are the findings, the result of a World Cafe style of process:

“Discussions focussed on various examples of commons, such as land, water or knowledge, as well as on the importance of an educational system directed towards the commons. How communities can organise and cooperate around common goods and how commons can become a driving force for the Romanian social movements to federate was then debated in the second part of the meeting.

* Overcoming the fragmentation of the social movement

Social movements within Romania are divided and fail to defend together a common cause. There is a disconnection of the Romanian social from the broader European movement; Rosia Montana emerged as a gravitation centre for Romanians; it unified them also with other European movements that are gathered along the cornerstone of commons. Commons therefore emerge as a touching point for the social movements within Romania and across the country borders.

* Commons as a counter-narrative

In Romania commons are emerging so as to contract neoliberalism and capitalism.The European Charter of Commons may bring the Romanian social movement further. Yet, Romanian-origin commons shall be added.What are the commons: knowledge, health(care), culture, soil, energy, water, solar radiation, parks, life…Perhaps come up with a common that will be accepted by TNCs so that they oppose less the whole commons concept?

How to advocate Commons better in Romania?

– Agree on a set of Commons;

– Explore and apply best practices of Commons advocacy from other countries.

– Cooperate with non-Romanian movements: set up a platform through European Alternatives?

– Legislative changes are difficult at the central state level. Therefore, gain the support of mayors and city/municipal counters. Next step: mapping and contacting interested local actors in Romania

* Three proposals for the Citizens Manifesto on the European Commons

1. Cities and regions should be involved in the review of draft EU legislation on a wide range of aspects related to the commons. They can also spread the message to their members and get more cities and regions to support the commons. Like the Committee of Regions, URBACT, the Assembly of European Regions, City Mayors, REVES network of cities, that have consultative roles, cities and regions will contribute to the protection of commons through different pieces of EU laws, particularly regulations and directives.

2. Initiate a European Citizens Initiative on the commons: this mechanism of direct participatory democracy enables the advocacy of legislation before the European Union institutions: the aim is for a directive or regulation on the commons to be eventually passed and enforced in the 28 Member States. Once approved by the European Commission as an admissible proposal (commons are in conformity with EU’s underlying principles and values), signatures will be collected around Europe and following European citizens mobilisation the European Parliament and the Council will vote on the legislation.

3. Citizens should file a complaint about matters related to the commons (in legal terms referred to as “services of general economic interest”) within the framework of EU legislation. Once the matter is referred to the EU Court by a national court or tribunal (initiating litigation through different member states’ courts will be a useful advocacy strategy), the court, in accordance with article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU will issue a binding judgement that interprets EU law and therefore the protection of the commons will be reiterated without, strictly speaking, enacting new piece of EU legislation.”