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Our Democratic Europe
Start date: 01 Aug 2016, End date: 28 Feb 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background and objectivesDemocracy is challenged in the whole of EU because of the pressure of new cultures and values coming into Europe and because of an increased gap between politicians and population. We see many youngsters being left outside democracy with little or no influence on decisions effecting their own lives. This is challenging community and solidarity at local, national and European level. There is a need for the youngsters to bring forth a new democratic culture of their own and for decision makers a need to find new methods to involve and engage especially youngsters in finding future solutions to society’s current challenges.Public libraries are important local institutions in most European countries, and by using this position to re-think their role as public meeting spaces they will be able to take active part in working with these democratic challenges locally and on a European level. Moreover, they are neutral meeting places, free of political agendas, and as such, they will form the ideal meeting place for youth and youth policy makers, thus enhancing the expected impact of the discussions. Behind ‘Our Democratic Europe’ lies a clear perception that libraries have an important role to play in shaping our future societies in Europe in close collaborations with future European citizens, our young people, and the present policy makers.‘Our Democratic Europe’ has four ambitious objectives:- Enhance the democratic competences of youngsters 14-19 years old- Make decision makers aware of the needs and thinking of youth- Empower youngsters to find solutions to current local and European challenges- Use the public library as a framework for creating a European public opinion – starting with the youthNumber and profile of participants‘Our democratic Europe’ will engage:1) A minimum of 100 youngsters in the age of 14-19 years old attending public schools, secondary or vocational schools and/or youngsters with connection to youth organizations. Their background will differ in ethnicity, social and economic situation.2) 20 local, regional and to some extent European decision makers. Primarily politicians from the city or regional council and representatives from local authorities in charge of youth.3) 16 library professionals from the partner librariesActivitiesThe project incorporates three categories of activities. Each category acting as preparation for the next:1) Task forces (one in each country)2) Regional seminars (four in each country)3) Transnational seminars (one in each country)1) Task forces: Minimum 8 young people will be involved in local task forces in each partner country. The task forces will plan and carry out the regional seminars and take part in the transnational seminars, based on a prior learning process. Through the learning process and by preparing and participating in the seminars, they will achieve strong competences in collaboration with others of different opinions and backgrounds, both regionally and at a European level, in democratic processes and in defining what are relevant perspectives to bring forward. 2) Regional seminars: In each country, there will be a regional youth seminar as preparation for each transnational seminar. The purpose of the regional seminars is to ensure a regional impact of the project and ensure that discussions at the transnational seminars are being based on opinions from a broad range of youngsters. Through participating in the regional seminars, youngsters from public schools/local youth organisations will improve both their knowledge and awareness of democracy and its basic values, an international outlook and a new understanding and use of the library as a place that they can actively use for activities relevant to them.3) Transnational seminars: At the transnational seminars the four task forces will meet with decision makers with the purpose of creating recommendations to EU on “Our Democratic Europe”. Recommendations will consist of methods to ensure dialogue and democratic participation by youngsters with special focus on topics from the Europe 2020 strategy. The recommendations will be published as a red book and handed over to the European Commission.Results, impact and long-term benefitsThe project will lead to improved ‘democratic literacy’ amongst the participating youngsters and a sense of being included in a European citizenship. Libraries will experience an enforcement of their democratic function, having learnt new methods of co-creating activities together with youngsters. Decision-makers will gain a greater understanding of issues important to youngsters and new methods and competences to engage in dialogue with youngsters. Building this strong triangle of public libraries, decision-makers and youngsters will on the long-term lead to a closer youth involvement in the formation of new policies at all levels, ensuring a future ‘Our Democratic Europe’.
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