EESC Civil Society Days 2019

March 5, 2019, 8:00 am
June 12 - June 13, 2019
EESC JDE 6th Floor, Brussels | Belgium
EESC JDE 6th Floor, Brussels | Belgium

The Civil Society Days 2019 will take place 12-13 June 2019 at a crucial moment for Europe, namely after the Sibiu Summit and the European elections and ahead of the constitution of the new European Parliament and European Commission. Current pressures on our democratic systems are threatening fundamental values (respect for human rights, individual liberty, equality, the rule of law) and the civil society space within the European Union. The alarming consequence is an erosion of democracy and restricted civic space in several parts of the EU. At the same time, there is urgency of progress regarding the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve a better and more sustainable future built on the values of solidarity and human rights, social justice, equality, democracy and participation, entrepreneurship and environmental responsibility. Find out more here.

Culture Action Europe, together with Lifelong Learning Platform and European Students’ Union organise a workshop on protecting freedom of expression in culture and education.

A sustainable democracy depends on the freedom of a diversity of voices to express a range of views. In contrast, societies that attempt to control freedom of thought and expression, rights protected by Articles 10 and 11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, constrict the necessary space that allows for democratic debate and divergent ideas. Both in artistic and academic domains, challenges to freedom of expression are increasingly prevalent in countries across Europe. The context in which these challenges emerge, and how we can therefore go about addressing them, will form the basis for discussion of this session.

Freedom of Artistic Expression

In a time of growing populism and polarisation across Europe, freedom of artistic expression and cultural rights are increasingly coming under pressure. Arts and culture play a crucial role in strengthening the European project, but now numerous examples across the EU indicate that populist approaches are weakening the cultural and creative sectors in general, and artistic freedom specifically. The IFCD of the Council of Europe found a strong correlation between culture and democracy, underpinning the fundamental link between freedom of artistic expression and a healthy democracy. Culture can therefore act as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for wider societal trends, highlighting the universal importance of protecting freedom of artistic expression.

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is at the core of the fundamental principles of the European Higher Education Area: the Magna Charta Universitatum states that: “Freedom in research and training is the fundamental principle of university life, and governments and universities, each as far as in them lies, must ensure respect for this fundamental requirement.” However, recently this principle has been under attack in several European countries. The freedom of academia and independence of universities from any political pressures or threats is of utmost importance in order to have thriving societies in the EHEA. In this session we hope to be able to discuss the importance of retaining academic freedom as a core value of education, and how only this can ensure a sustainable future for society.


9.30 Welcome of participants and Setting the Scene

  • Rosa Perez-Monclus, chair of the workshop, Advocacy and Policy Director, Culture Action Europe
  • Oonagh Aitken, Lifelong Learning Platform’s Pool of Experts

10.00 Introduction to Freedom of Artistic Expression

  • Yamam Al-Zubaidi, Equality & Diversity Manager, Riksteatern, Sweden

10.15 Introduction to Freedom of Academic Expression

  • Peter Inkei, Chief Editor, Central European University Press, Hungary

10.30 Full Group Discussion on Common Challenges

11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 Working Groups:

  • (1) Freedom of Artistic Expression facilitated by Yamam Al-Zubaidi

Supported by:

  • Rosa Perez-Monclus, CAE
  • Sophie Dowden, CAE
  • (2) Freedom of Academic Expression facilitated by Peter Inkei

Supported by:

  • Robert Napier, ESU
  • Martina Darmanin, ESU

12.30 Discussion on Recommendations from Working Groups and Conclusions

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