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European Union Between Defense of the Treaties and Electoral Consensus: From 2010 Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion to 2014 Year of European Elections

Edited by Pietro Celotti and Giulia Fiaccarini, Istituto Luigi Sturzo, Rome, 2011, 147 pp.

This publication was realized within the project European Mobility Enabling to Reduce the Ground of Exclusion (E.M.E.R.G.E.) and was co-financed by the European Union under the Europe for the Citizens Programme. The objective of the E.M.E.R.G.E project is to activate the European citizenship on the themes of poverty and social exclusion (European Year 2010) through an innovative (blended mentoring) methodology of exchange with NGOs active in countries that recently joined the EU.

This four-lingual (English, Italian, Bulgarian, Romanian) publication gathers the results achieved by a transnational staff of Italian, Bulgarian and Romanian researchers. As one of the project's results, the researchers involved in E.M.E.R.G.E. gathered the perspectives of an Italian, Bulgarian and Romanian Member of European Parliament (MEP), presenting their conversations in the first section of the publication, entitled Civil Society and EU Policy Making: MEP's Perspective.

The text entitled A New European Tool of Democracy. The European Citizens' Initiative as a Means to Connect with Voters, enables a deeper understanding of the new tool of democratic participation, that starting from April 2012 will allow the citizens to directly initiate the European legislative process. This new form of public involvement is especially important for civil society, citizens and stakeholders. The need to gather opinions of interested stakeholders about how this new initiative should work in practice is emphasized.

In the third section, 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion: Feedback from NGOs, the research results and the opinions, expectations and activities of Italian, Bulgarian and Romanian representatives of NGOs are shown. To verify the actual involvement of NGOs in the European institutional context, two focus groups with representatives of NGOs and schools in each participating country were realized.

The book concludes with the presentation of various tests of democracy, analysing the 2009 European elections in Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, three countries with different European histories, comparing issues such as electoral turnout and themes discussed during the political campaign.

The need for awareness and active participation of European citizens is the dominant topic throughout this publication that is leading the reader from the 2010 Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion to the 2014 Year of European Elections, giving recommendations for further practices. As emphasized by Roberto Mazzotta, President of the Luigi Sturzo Institute, 'this publication can contribute to make the European Union and institutions more tangible for its citizens and to stimulate a shared identity.'

More information and the full text of the publication are available at emerge.sturzo.it/2011/03/31/european-union-between-defense-of-the-treaties-and-electoral-consensus/