Announcing: A European Commons Assembly.
Civic and community initiatives are working to vitalize our urban, rural, scientific and digital commons, and promoting a future guided by democratic participation, social equity and environmental sustainability. At the heart of these acts of “commoning” are satisfying, joyful social relationships that regenerate our interpersonal and physical surroundings. We reject the idea that we are merely self-interested individual consumers or competitors in a fierce market jungle. Instead, we also consider ourselves active and cooperative citizen caretakers working for healthy and fair neighbourhoods, cities and societies.
In times when European institutions are losing support and in deep crisis, we as European citizens are reclaiming Europe. We are concerned that many of our governments tend to favour the narrow interests of dominant market forces instead of catering to the common good of people and the planet.
We are alarmed that growing global social inequality and exclusion, along with climate change, are threatening our very future. We regret that massive privatization and commodification have already deprived us of much of our shared commons that is essential for our physical, social and cultural well-being, and our dignity.
Our experiences of commoning
Commoning relates to 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.
- We build and strengthen communities by using and sharing knowledge, arts, culture, agriculture and technology.
- We build co-housing projects, support local agriculture, live in eco-villages, and have community-based and community-owned infrastructures (e.g. for energy, water, wifi, culture and funding).
- We take care of and collectively manage natural resources (including water, forests, seeds and animals).
- We make and freely share music, images, software, educational materials, scientific knowledge and the like.
- We have already succeeded in making some public-sector information accessible to all, including publicly-funded research, health knowledge and technology.
- We try to open up existing democratic institutions, through new tools of participatory democracy and transparency.
We call for
We call for the provision of resources and the necessary freedom to create, manage and sustain our commons. We call upon governments, local and national, as well as European Union institutions to facilitate the defence and growth of the commons, to eliminate barriers and enclosures, to open up doors for citizen participation and to prioritize the common good in all policies.
This requires a shift from traditional structures of top-down governance towards a horizontal participatory process for community decision-making in the design and monitoring of all forms of commons. We call on commoners to support a European movement that will promote solidarity, collaboration, open knowledge and experience sharing as the forces to defend and strengthen the commons.
Therefore, we call for and open the invitation to join an ongoing participatory, inclusive process across Europe for the building and maintenance of a Commons Assembly. Together we can continue to build a vibrant web of caring, regenerative collective projects that reclaim the European Commons for people and our natural environment.
Omnia sunt communia!
Signatories so far:
First Meeting in Brussels
The First Meeting of the European Commons Assembly took place in Brussels from November 15 to 17. Roughly 150 diverse commons activists from 21 countries across Europe participated in this historic event.
Building on collective work on policy proposals in the preceding weeks, on November 16 we came together in Parliament for a 3.5 hour session exploring the ECA as a platform and the commons as a powerful paradigm for policymaking.* You can see the full recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEWDstHb8Bg
Before and after the event in Parliament, on the 15th and 17th, ECA participants gathered at Zinneke collective, based in an old stamp factory that has been reclaimed by the non-profit organization as a creative hub for Brussels. There we explored political issues, through an open discussion on DIEM 25 and a collective meeting on how to move forward with the European Commons Assembly into the future.
Documentation from the event continues to be released and the conversation continues on our mailing list and loomio spaces. Please sign up in these spaces to join the movement.
For a complete recap of the First Meeting, read this article from Commons Network: http://commonsnetwork.eu/commoners-hit-the-capital-of-europe-commons-assembly-in-brussels/
*Thanks to the MEPs who co-hosted us from the Working Group on Common Goods, within the Intergroup on Common Goods and Public Services: Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), Dario Tamburrano (EFDD), Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA), and Sergio Cofferati (S&D). Thanks also to Julia Reda, Monika Vana (Greens/EFA) and Ignazio Corrao (EFDD) who collaborated.
For updates, you should join the mailing list by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Deeper conversations on these processes are currently taking place on loomio. You can request to join here: https://www.loomio.org/invitations/d6fac263ae107f46b0fe Then look on the main page for an overview of the subgroups to find the relevant threads.
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Background & Process
Many people are engaged in commons-based alternative practices, and are struggling for ecological, social and cultural transition within their communities.
In many fields, the commons approach offers a new vocabulary for collective action and social justice. It opens up ways of reshaping processes for governance of resources by communities themselves. Commons-based practices respect values of sharing and cooperation, equity and diversity, transparency and sustainability.
The idea of commons is growing in our collective imaginary, but remains underrepresented in concrete terms. It is time to jointly act to reinvigorate local, national, and European politics on the basis of these values.
In this context, 28 activists from 15 European countries met for 3 days in Villarceaux, France in May 2016 to develop a shared agenda for the commons. Since then, a process of shared visions and strategies for the commons in Europe has continued to grow. Each week, new individuals introduce themselves into this commons community. All the participants are committed to the development of European Commons Assembly: a flexible but unified alliance of diverse activists, mobilized across issues to impact politics.
European Commons Assembly: A coalition for solidarity and commons-based politics
European Commons Assembly is an ongoing process that facilitates pluralistic debate regarding the strategy and agenda for a fundamentally united political vision. It supports activists’ continued engagement in concrete, collaborative and bottom-up actions and campaigns in Europe, and ultimately helps to build a flourishing European political civil society movement for the commons.
Three main objectives were defined in the initial meeting:
- Increase visibility of the commons (a civil and social practice) in European public discourse and media
- Bring the advent of creative institutions and political alternatives from the local to the European level
- Contribute and articulate joint demands for the commons the following issues, among others:
- Empowering community renewable energy.
- Internet infrastructures as a commons
- Open research and science with citizen participation for social and environmental objectives.
- Copyright reform for access to knowledge and information
- Transparency and direct citizen participation in political institutions.
- Supporting and financing urban commons for culture, co-housing, food production.
- Sustainable and democratic management of natural resources and biodiversity.