The Slovenian Paneuropean movement has concluded the JOCICEF project, which ran from 1 September 2017 to 28 February 2019. During the project lifetime, we carried out all the planned activities, i. e. five international conferences, which were attended by 609 participants from 29 countries, and prepared a booklet with contributions by guest speakers. We hosted a total of 109 guest speakers from 25 countries, with whom we discussed the future of Europe, Euroscepticism and populisms, as well as the role of citizens in the European decision-making process. With the project, we managed to bring the European policy-making process closer to citizens, raised awareness about how to become part of the process, drew up some scenarios of future development of the EU, explained the phenomenon of Euroscepticism and the role of populisms in further European integration. Citizens should be more actively involved in the decision-making process through mechanisms that are already available (discussions, petitions, consultation, etc.). Along with this, policy makers should strive more actively to bring policies closer to citizens not only through media and social media, but particularly in the field, among the people. Citizens play an important role when it comes to European policy development and particularly the future path of the EU. The biggest threat for the EU is citizens’ passiveness in creating policies (e.g. electoral abstinence), which gives power to populists. The second biggest threat to the future of the EU are populisms and extreme political parties both on the left and right, whose goal is to weaken the European integration process and turn back towards closed-in nation states. We need to be aware that populists build on promises without a real basis. At the same time, they often incite negative Euroscepticism, meaning that they blame the EU for all the problems on the national level. The 2019 elections to the European Parliament will be crucial for the future of Europe. Therefore, high electoral participation and unbiased communication of EU policies are vital. Peace, prosperity and security are not public goods that can be taken for granted even in Europe—we have to work hard to maintain them every day.

The key messages of participants can be summarised as follows:

  1. Europe needs to remain an area of peace, security and political stability. This is the most important task of political decision makers. Their primary role is to preserve and foster the heritage of the founding fathers, who turned Europe into the most developed world region based on dialogue.
  2. Political decision makers need to approach citizens in their local areas, since social media and other communication channels can distort their information and messages. Policy makers should not be trapped in communication spirals of infighting on social media. Discussions about European policies and the future of Europe have to maintain dignity and be based on arguments, dialogue and respect for diversity of opinions and views.
  3. Regardless of citizens’ trust towards EU institutions, they must strive to maintain communication with them and include them in their policy-making processes.
  4. Euroscepticism is not an answer to poor knowledge of European politics and policies or national problems. Politicians have the task of respecting the principle of subsidiarity and solve national problems at the national level. By transferring them to the European level, they do not get rid of the responsibility, but significantly contribute to a negative image of European institutions. European decisions are not and cannot always be exactly what citizens want, since the European decision-making framework is completely different than the national one.
  5. The biggest threat to the European project are populisms, which are on the rise across Europe. The most successful cure against populism are well informed citizens who cross-check the statements of populists and demand concrete solutions and development strategies.
  6. Citizens need to demand from decision makers clear answers to the challenges facing the EU. At the same time, we need to assume of our own share of responsibility by actively and constructively contributing proposals and solutions, and thus supporting the European decision-making process.

The final report can be found here.