On 5 March 2008, the European Parliament, the directly elected body of the European Union, held a conference to engage with results of a civic participation project in light of the forthcoming 2009 elections. Twenty universities from Europe have been actively involved in a Specific Targeted Research Project titled CIVICACTIVE under the Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-Based Society priority of the Sixth Framework Programme. Together, the project partners were responsible for identifying the determinants of active civic participation at European and national level, including participation in European Parliament elections, referendums on European integration issues, national elections, and non-electoral political and community action.
The project focused in particular on the effects of gender, age, class and disability on civic participation, and examined the results of a 2007 Eurobarometer survey on attitudes towards the European Parliament. These and other results were presented at the conference.
Titled 'People and Parliament in the European Union in the context of the 2009 elections', the event attracted Members of Parliament, researchers and the media. It was inaugurated by President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering, who remarked, 'In this globalised world we can not rest on our past laurels. Citizens should have the chance to fight together against the main problems of today, such as international terrorism and climate change. We should do this together.'
'The next election of the European Parliament is in 2009. We have to give citizens all the information they need, and we should start doing it this year, in 2008, in order to obtain the results we are looking for in 2009. We have to commit ourselves to explain to Europe's citizens the added value of the EU in view of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and to promote a higher participation in the elections,' he said.
Speeches and presentations were also delivered by Vice-President of the European Parliament Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Leendert de Voogd of TNS Political & Social, Richard Sinnott of University College Dublin, Palle Svensson of the University of Aarhus, David Farrell of the University of Manchester, Federica Bicchi of the London School of Economics, Jean Blondel of the European University Institute, Susan Banducci of the University of Exeter, Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of the University of Plymouth, Eva Anduiza-Perea of Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Joan Font of Centro de Investigaciones Sociologicas in Madrid, Hans Rattinger and Markus Steinbrecher of Universitaet Bamberg, Patricia Noonan Walsh of University College Dublin, Gábor Tóka of Central European University Budapest, Member of the European Parliament Andrew Duff, Yvonne Galligan of Queen's University Belfast, Bernadette Hayes of the University of Aberdeen, Susan Banducci of the University of Exeter, and Richard Sinnott from University College Dublin.
Further information, including copies of some of the presentations delivered is available here.
Photographs of the conference available from this link: