Civil society is a crucial component of any democratic society, as it plays a vital role in ensuring that the voices of individuals and communities are heard and represented in the political process. As the European Pirate Party, we recognize the importance of civil society in the European Union and its member states, and we are committed to strengthening the values that underpin it.
At the heart of our mission is a commitment to the fundamental values of the European Union, as outlined in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union. We believe that respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities like LGBT+, are non-negotiable principles that must be upheld and defended at all times.
To achieve this goal, we call on the EU to work closely with civil society organizations across Europe and beyond to ensure that these fundamental values are respected and promoted in all EU policymaking and decision-making aspects. We believe that civil society should have a meaningful say in shaping EU policies. The EU should actively seek out and listen to the voices of individuals and communities traditionally underrepresented in the political process.
Furthermore, we believe that the EU is responsible for promoting these values not only within its own institutions and member states but also in its interactions with other countries and international organizations. We believe that the EU should lead by example, demonstrating its commitment to these values in its external policies and working to promote them in countries and regions where they are under threat.
Citizen Participation and Open Government – Democracy Add-On for Europe
Pirates advocate for a directly elected citizens’ convention tasked with drafting a new EU treaty that will clarify and replace current treaties and address the need for democratic reform within the Union, provided it is accepted by the citizens of the Union through a referendum.
The present EU legislative process is dominated by the executive branch (the European Commission) at the expense of the legislative branch (the European Parliament). Pirates seek to adjust the balance of power in European Institutions to favour the legislative branch.
Direct democracy at the EU level, i.e. pan-EU referendums on constitutional revisions and citizen-initiated legislative referendums, should be part of the new constitution. Citizens shall have the right both to repeal existing legislation and initiate new legislation.
Citizenship Add-on for Europe
We, the European Pirates, consider ourselves European citizens. However, at this point, European citizenship is only an idea. Pirates want to transform this idea into reality. With European citizenship, we can be more than French, German, and Swedish. We can be citizens with a bundle of common rights in every country of the Union. We will be able to issue European passports, allowing any European citizen to be recognised as a part of a concept larger than their own countries in the ideal of a borderless world.
Pirates want to open discussions and organise workshops to fulfil these goals.
The European Pirate Party believes that everyone in the European Union should have the right to real EU citizenship. This citizenship should come with an EU passport and physical and digital documents recognized all over the EU as European citizenship.
We believe that real EU citizenship is essential for ensuring that all people in the EU have equal rights and opportunities, regardless of their country of origin. It is also a vital step towards creating a more united and cohesive Europe, where everyone feels like they belong and are valued members of the community.
Innovating Political Participation
Pirates want citizens to have a more direct and significant impact on the policy debate and decision-making process, both individually and collectively.
The European Parliament should set up an e-participation tool. Citizens should be able to discuss legislative proposals publicly, propose amendments, and support (or vote against) proposed amendments online.
We wish to reform the EU Citizens’ Initiative. Data requirements shall be reduced. The European Commission should deal even with unsuccessful but interesting initiatives.
Petitioners with a significant number of supporters shall have the right to be heard in person. The European Parliament should open its doors to citizens regularly to let them directly submit their proposals and concerns to a joint plenary session with Members of the European Parliament and Members of the European Commission. These sessions should also be open to citizens participating remotely via the Internet or social media.
European citizens must be able to search, use, and exchange the information made available by different European governance processes. This way, they can understand and participate in the life of our European democracy. The social cost of participating needs to be minimized.
The European Union shall join the Open Government Partnership. This multilateral initiative aims to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
Promoting Civil Society Participation
We believe that civil society participation is crucial for a healthy and vibrant democracy. Therefore, we are committed to promoting and supporting the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the EU. To achieve this, we propose increasing public awareness of the importance of civil society participation and encouraging greater participation through education and outreach programs.
Clear Regulation of NGOs
We propose advocating for clear and fair regulations for NGOs operating in the EU, focusing on transparency and accountability. We also suggest making it easier for NGOs to establish and finance themselves within the EU.
Tax Incentives for Donations
To encourage more organizations to engage in social and environmental causes, we believe donations towards NGOs working for the common good should receive a special tax status in all EU member states.
Effective Interaction with European Institutions
NGOs need access to information about upcoming legislation to interact with European institutions effectively. We propose that NGOs registered in the EU get access to the actual text and additional information, allowing them to put the legislation into context. This will ensure that all stakeholders have a place at the table and access to the latest developments.
Promotion of Good Work by NGOs
We will work to promote and showcase the critical work that NGOs are already doing across the EU. By highlighting their successes, we aim to encourage more people to get involved and support their efforts. We recognize the critical role that NGOs play in areas such as environmental protection, social justice, and human rights. Therefore, we are committed to supporting their efforts and working together to build a more just and sustainable society.
Anti-corruption and Containing Corporate Lobbyism
The influence of money on politics is one of the key corruption risks in the EU and a threat to its democratic foundation. Political decisions will not be made in the best interests of all citizens when corporate interests are allowed to dominate.
Disclosure and Containment of External Influence on Political Decisions
To protect the democratic process and make decision-making more transparent, the Pirates call for disclosing the influence of interest groups and lobbyists on political decisions. Lobbying activities shall be as transparent as possible. That can be helped by making the existing lobby register mandatory, linked to an open calendar on the Internet. Every EU citizen should have a chance to look up with whom the elected representative met, what was the purpose of the meeting, and what happened there. The process shall be based on a multi-level controlling system that is needed for a reliable democracy. In addition, a legislative footprint shall be published. Everyone involved in policy making shall disclose their meetings with lobbyists and the written input they receive. All draft bills and amendments shall be traceable to their original author.
Enforceable ethics rules and an oversight mechanism for lobbyists shall be introduced. These should prevent lobbyists from exercising undue influence.
Preventing Conflicts of Interest
Public officials (including Commission Special Advisers) and elected representatives (including Rapporteurs) shall not be unduly influenced by private interests in performing their public duties. Conflicts of interest may occur with outside activities and previous jobs, but also through revolving door cases related to MEPs, Commissioners or civil servants taking up new jobs in the private sector.
Proper rules must be established to ensure that relevant office holders do not have any conflicts of interest, that interests are being declared and that misbehaviour is sanctioned. The European Parliament and the European Commission Codes of Conduct need to be reformed. Effective transparency and ethics rules are needed for Intergroups and other cross-party groups involving MEPs and lobbyists. An independent body should oversee compliance and impose sanctions where necessary. Comprehensive rules limiting the revolving-door phenomenon shall be adopted.
Re-democratising the Input Process
Business interests shall no longer dominate policy expertise. The Commission shall introduce effective safeguards against corporate capture of expert and advisory groups, technology platforms and EU agencies. Because a vastly disproportionate number of meetings with EU officials is dedicated to big business, the number of these meetings should be reduced. More time should be devoted to actively seeking input from citizens, SMEs, and other currently under-represented interest groups.
Political Campaign Financing
All European political parties shall use transparent bank accounts for campaign funds. The authority overseeing European political parties shall be given effective auditing and sanctioning tools.
Transparency and Whistleblower Protection
Transparency gives the powerless the power to monitor the powerful. Pirates believe transparency is needed to allow the public to make democratic decisions.
Pirates advocate for general and comprehensive whistleblower legislation to protect anyone who exposes issues that are in the public interest, including abuse of law, unlawful activities, and wrongdoings. We strongly believe whistleblowers must be able to equally report internally, to a competent authority or to the media to guarantee the freedom of expression and the citizens’ right to information. The right to anonymous whistleblowing should be established.
Transparency of the Public Sector
The public sector, including private entities carrying out work on behalf of a public body, must be transparent and publish information as open data by default without applying restrictions on their re-use. Better legislative transparency is needed, particularly in the Council and in trilogues. Public authorities should have a duty to document information concerning decision-making processes. Public authorities and representatives should be obliged to keep records and proactively publish information such as agendas, minutes of meetings, third-party documents such as lobbyist input, and information justifying decisions.
The principle of transparency should apply to all public bodies, including the Court of Justice, the permanent representations of member states and the rotating national presidencies of the Council.
Pirates believe that it is a fundamental right of citizens to inspect, without the need for any specific justification, all contracts or financial benefits related to the delivery of public sector or government projects and services.