EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY – A People’s EU Constitution
I would like to see people look carefully at the kind of Europe they want and put a constitutional framework in place that will achieve it Gisela Stuart, Birmingham Post, 7 October 2004
(Gisela Stuart is a Labour MP and was member of the Presidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe)
Produce within 5 weeks a first version of a People’s EU Constitution. Publish this in one Dutch daily newspaper and one weekley newspaper as well as in one French daily newspaper and one weekly at around May 20st.
Aim is to offer the people an alternative to the EU Constitution on which France and The Netherlands will hold their national referendums (France: May 29th, Netherlands: June 1st). It needn’t be a perfect document yet, but should make clear that an EU Constitution is possible which:
A) has (improvement of) democracy as its core focal point,
B) is a real Constitution – in which, consequently, streamlining of provisions from former EU Treaties does not belong,
C) is written in language which is clear and accessible to everyone,
1) People who are willing to write (and translate) this first version in English, French and Dutch and who are committed to publishing it at around May 20st. I am looking for lawyers who are willing to take the “direct democracy” principles (i.e. conclusive sovereignty is with the people, not with the representation of the people) as the basis of this text. I have already a first draft of an alternative EU Constitution; this draft needs further development.
2) Lawyers who are willing to lend their names to the constitutional document of EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY.
3) On a longer term we are also looking for people who are willing to participate as mediators.After publication, A People’s EU Constitution, along with a questionnaire and a computer game (still in the development phase), will be presented to people inside and outside the EU. The input which we expect to receive from it will be digested in the EU constitutional document, as long as is needed to achieve an EU Constitution which is genuinely a people’s Constitution. We expect to need a minimum of 2 years to come to a good final product. EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY is a crossover between an art project and a political project and is a guest project of the Blue House of Jeanne van Heeswijk.
All beautiful initiatives start small, with a few people who put their shoulders to the wheel. If you endorse this initiative (if it makes you happy) and if you like to contribute to it actively, we urge you to reply within 1 week and to let us know if this date and time to meet:
is convenient to you. If it isn’t, then we will have to set a date in this same week; week 16.
Perhaps it is superfluous to mention this, but neither the time pressure nor the project leave room for an attitude of no sincere engagement.
If you need more information, fine tuning on a one-to-one basis or if you have other queries, please e-mail me. Attached below a description of the EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY project
Committed to the success of this initiative and very interested in your response,
Filia den Hollander
Hollander – 2e Jacob van Campenstraat 93-4 – 1073 XP Amsterdam –
A CITIZEN BABY – A People’s EU Constitution
EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY - A People’s EU Constitution
EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY is a project in which artists, lawyers, people of the (direct) democracy movement and “ordinary” citizens develop an alternative EU Constitution.
What is a Constitution?
does being a European mean, or, narrowed down to the EU, what does being an
What does being a citizen mean?
The rewriting of the EU Constitution is conceived as a tool to design an experimental society within the geographical location known as ‘Europe’.
A Constitution can only be supported if it is also developed together with the citizens, and if we investigate how they see their – and we our – citizenship
These questions stretch out beyond the EU, for it is also relevant and instructive to know how, for example, a Chinese person perceives the EU, or whether a Surinam person feels him/herself connected to the EU too. This is why our project covers the EU and beyond. The project consequently also implicitly contributes to general emancipation in the world. When people are presented an alternative EU Constitution, and are being requested to bring in their suggestions for improvement, then this will also contribute to the sharpening of their opinion on the existing Constitution (whether it be their national Constitution or the EU Constitution proposal which is now under discussion) and to the consciousness that they can co-shape society. Society is that which we want it to be.
A first proposal of an alternative EU Constitution will be done by writing a new EU Constitution outline which: (1) is written in understandable language, (2) leaves out everything which has to do with streamlining of former Treaties, (3) increases democracy.
Then, along with a questionnaire in the shape of a computer game this alternative EU Constitution will be presented to the citizens. As the title already indicates – EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY –, there will be no distinction between “citizen” and “politician”.
As part of our project we aim to publish our first draft People’s EU Constitution simultaneously and integral in France and in The Netherlands in one daily newspaper and one weekly newspaper, a couple of weeks before the national referendums on the EU Constitution take place (France: May 29th, Netherlands: June 1st). We have already the interest of Newropeans-Magazine, a French European think-tank on democracy issues.
We estimate that this project will need at least two years to come to a good final constitutional document.
The project is a so-called crossover – it jumps back and forth between an art project and a political project. For culture, like citizenship, covers all domains.
Jeanne van Heeswijk is an internationally well-known Dutch artist. She has specialized in process and community oriented projects. In the context of the Arts Plan IJburg (near Amsterdam), Jeanne has a villa at her disposal for the next four years named "the Blue House" in which she hosts political artists and political art projects. Her “House for the Revolution” project is inspired by a.o. the Casa Azul of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY - A People’s EU Constitution will be guest of the Blue House as long as needed and it will have its nerve center there. Part of Jeanne’s Blue House project is a public letter exchange which all guests have with each other and with Jeanne. The letter exchange between EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY and the Blue House will open with an intergral publication of the first version of the alternative EU Constitution.
The Blue House offers lodging for guests of EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY and a start budget of 6,000 euros.
Mauricio Corbalán is an Argentinan architect who perceives the creation of communication structures to be architecture too. In collaboration with his partner in Buenos Aires he developes proposals for interface models – a questionnaire and a computer game – between the people and our proposal for a People’s EU Constitution. In the report of one of our meetings it says: We think of sort of a computer game, with which mediators go to people in Europe and outside Europe. The computer game contains a questionnaire and a database where the answers are digested in such a way that it helps us to interpret all answers into one coherent document (the People’s EU Constitution).
interface between the people and the alternative EU Constitution links
“personal” and open questions with “objective” questions. They should be
phrased in such a way that people are also invited to tell their personal
stories. The database linked to it (computer) should be modeled in such a way
that connections of all sorts can be made. Images and other devices, that help
people to make a connection with the questions, will also be developed
Mauricio is currently in Buenos Aires but will return to The Netherlands in April and will then be a guest of the Blue House.
Jan Willem Sap is a Dutch lawyer who teaches International Law at the Free University of Amsterdam. He wrote the very first version of the People’s EU Constitution. Apart from a role of advizer and helping us in finding juridical assistance, Jan Willem wil remain on the background.
Ken Kostyo is an American lawyer who lives in Amsterdam. He is an expert on sub-national constitutional law, and recently started a job at a newly to be developed news tv broadcast of the United Nations in Hilversum.
Jiri Polak was born a Czech and has now the Swedish nationality. Jiri is a political scientist and organizes 16-18 September 2005 in Prague a conference centered around the EVERYONE’S A CITIZEN BABY – A People’s EU Constitution project and alternative citizen’s participation projects. Jiri, Ken and myself are activists in the international direct democracy movement; that is to say we advocate binding referendums to improveme the current (indirect) democratic decision making structure.
Filia den Hollander is a Dutch visual artist and a democracy activist. The EU Constitution under discussion horrifies me for its consequence will be that citizens have only less say in their living environment. At the same time the momentum of an EU Constitution is exciting to me and I wish to poke my artist’s nose and citizen’s voice in this – that is, in as much as this is possible. Apart from overall coordination I will also digest at the Blue House nerve center all input to the People’s EU Constitution.
Datum: April 10th, 2005