(Harald Gell; 19 April 2020)The European Union (EU) is – among having other functions – the most successful peace project on the European continent. Since World War II not any armed conflict has taken place on the European territory of its Member States. That is why after 70 years of peace, the EU was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts for peace, reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in 2012.
On the other hand, the EU is criticised for different avenues of approach permanently – which can be seen as a positive democratic quality assurance system – but it must be assured that the criticism is based on facts and not on fake news. As an example, the former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, was interviewed after his retirement in 2019 about “what he would have changed during his presidency when looking back?” He said that one of his biggest mistakes was the silence before the BREXIT-referendum following a policy of non-interference, because a lot of arguments were lies and fake news resulting in an unexpected outcome.
To counter fake news it is possible to publish counterblasts, but the more effective and efficient way is to educate and to inform people across-the-board. Thus, people can evaluate the news on their own. But how to assure that?
In 2018 – based on the idea of the current ECA-president – specialists, familiar with the functioning of the EU, found together to create a legal, supranational, and non-profit association with the following purposes:
- Safeguard and promote the European Union’s fundamental values in contributing to the development of a common culture in security and defence and a common EU identity.
- Increase citizens’ resilience to information manipulation concerning the European Union.
Officially established in 2020, the European Citizens Association is thought as a growing consortium with full members from EU Member States and associated members from in- or outside the EU. ECA is organised according to the following sketch:
Figure 1: Organisation of the European Citizens Association.
Among other activities, the ECA members promote the values of the European Union, of its common challenges and the fundamental components of its construction at all levels of education and training by means of informing and encouraging the integration of the pedagogical objectives geared towards the European Union.
: Homepage of THE NOBEL PRIZE. URL: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2012/summary/. [19-4-20].
: Interview with Jean Claude Juncker on 06 November 2019. Homepage of tagesschau.de. URL: https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/juncker-interview-107.html. [19-4-20].
: Statuses – European Citizens Association (March 2020). Article 3.
: Figure created by the author based on Statuses – European Citizens Association; Article 10-12.
: Statuses – European Citizens Association (March 2020). Article 4.