On September 26, a group of nonprofits, foundations, and other civil society organizations jointly publish a “Call for a European Commons Assembly”. The collectively drafted document, which continues to garner signatures from groups and individuals around Europe, serves as a declaration of purpose for a distributed network of “commoners.”
The Assembly seeks to unite citizens in trans-local and trans-european solidarity to overcome Europe’s current challenges and reinvigorate the political process for the 21st century. The commons can be understood as a bridging paradigm that stresses cooperation in management of resources, knowledge, tools, and spaces as diverse as water, Wikipedia, a crowdfund, or a community garden. Their Call describes commoning as:
…the network-based cooperation and localized bottom-up initiatives already sustained by millions of people around Europe and the world. These initiatives create self-managed systems that satisfy important needs, and often work outside of dominant markets and traditional state programmes while pioneering new hybrid structures.
The Assembly emerged in May from a diverse, gender balanced pilot community of 28 activists from 15 European countries, working in different domains of the commons. New people are joining the Assembly every week, and ECA is inclusive and open for others to join, so that a broad and resilient European movement can coalesce. It seeks to visibilize acts of commoning by citizens for citizens, while promoting interaction with policy and institutions at both the national and European levels.
Part of a broader movement
The rapid embrace of commons as an alternative holistic, sustainable and social worldview is in part an expression of unease with the unjust current economic system and democratic deficiencies. The commons movement has exploded in recent years, following the award of the Nobel Prize in Economics to Elinor Ostrom in 2009 for her work on managing common resources. It has also seen overlap with other movements, such as the Social and Solidarity and Sharing Economy movements, peer to peer production, and Degrowth.
Michel Bauwens, part of the ECA and a prominent figure in the peer-to-peer movement, explains:
“All over the world, a new social movement is emerging, which is challenging the ‘extractive’ premises of the mainstream political economy and which is co-constructing the seed forms of a sustainable and solidary society. Commoners are also getting a voice, for example through the Assemblies of the Commons that are emerging in French cities and elsewhere. The time is ripe for a shoutout to the political world, through a European Assembly of the Commons.”
The Call includes an open invitation to Brussels from November 15 to 17, 2016 for three days of activities and shared reflection on how to protect and promote the commons. It will include an official session in the European Parliament, hosted by the Intergroup on Common Goods and Public Services, on November 16 (limited capacity).
You can read and sign the full text of the Call, also available in French, Spanish, and soon other European languages, on the ECA website. There is an option to sign as an individual or an organization.
For more information, visit http://
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