A delegation of four Portuguese NGOs, and a member of the Active Citizens Fund in Portugal Management Unit, participated in the first edition of the Active Citizens Days, which took place in Oslo, Norway, on 10-11 September 2019.
This first edition of Active Citizens Days was dedicated to Citizenship Education and allowed participants to discuss topics such as: the relationship between Citizenship Education and respect for the rule of law; how citizenship education can combat populism; the contribution of citizenship education to citizen involvement; and how Citizenship Education promotes the principles of tolerance and inclusion in societies.
Divided into working groups on the different topics under discussion, more than 60 participants from 12 European countries spent the first working morning sharing the practices and difficulties in their countries / projects on the topics under discussion and in the afternoon to draw up recommendations to improve citizenship education practices at national and European level.
The second day was devoted to bilateral meetings between participants from various countries in order to deepen relations between participants and create new project partnerships.
As part of the 25th anniversary of the Agreement on the European Economic Area, participants also had the opportunity to attend a debate on the topic “European Civil Society at Risk”, which was attended by members of non-governmental organizations from Hungary, Slovenia and Norway and with the participation of the Chairman of the Norwegian Financial Mechanisms Committee. The increasing persecution of Civil Society Organizations in many European countries, the phenomenon of populism and fake news, were central themes of the debate which also raised some concerns that citizens are easily accepting situations and narratives that should never be accepted, and the urgent need for organizations to increasingly coordinate their interventions, promoting greater unity between NGOs and avoiding segmentation by areas of activity. It was in this context that the chairman of the Norwegian Financial Mechanisms Committee, Niels Engelshion, said: “EEA Grants are important not only for money, but especially for the political message it sends to governments: strengthening civil society must be a priority.”
Active Citizens Days is an annual event organized by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee that seeks to create a moment for meeting, reflection and debate between entities from the 15 beneficiary countries of the EEA Grants / Active Citizens Fund and Norwegian entities.