23 SES 12 A, The State of Play of Active Citizenship in Europe: Concepts, Policy, Engagement and the effects of the Economic Crises
This paper provides an overview of current policies on active citizenship from across the EU. The results of analysis show that the current and major influence in Europe on policy and practice for facilitating engagement is the economic crisis. One of the first areas which have been cut by national policies has been support for community projects. The countries with the highest debts are those in most need of a strong civil society to support democracy in the current context of economic and political upheavals. However, these countries have the greatest threats to continued funding of projects. Across the whole of Europe the economic crises threatens the sustainability of many current projects on Active Citizenship. In addition, programmes that are still funded are required to emphasis the development of employability skills. Not unrelated to the economic crises is another political trend. Recent elections across Europe have created a shift in power towards right of centre governments. The philosophy of these governments has tended to be towards focusing on the community and volunteering projects over political participation and the development of critical thinking. Instead national governments have started to focus more inwards on national issues rather than the European dimension.
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