|ACC Board meeting Berlin|
26-27 May 2006
Present at the Boardmeeting: Conchi Gallego, Jan-Christoph Napierski, John Petersen, Dasa Bolcina, Erik Jentges, Elisabeth Alber
Excused: Mjellma Mehmeti, Emma Yeoman, Lucie Cizkova
Begin of the meeting: 10.00
Chair of the meeting: JP
1. Agenda was approved without any changes
2. Minutes of the last meeting approved without any changes
3. Since last time
EA: Soren (from Youth2002/Nyt Europe) presented a lot of ACC’s ideas in Brussels -especially concerning European democracy.
JP: Wallstroem tries to get a new input for her plan. Soeren has been appointed as a special adviser to Wallstroem.
EA: Wallstroem has a difficult time in the Commission right now.
JP: Demos Community College on Rhodes: Was a kind of experiment. New methods were brought in as a theme. The board welcomes the new methods as a valuable new input. This time the methods on creating an issue for European public sphere became a topic. There is a development going on concerning these methods, taking a point of departure in private companies: Sarah Whiteley, Maria Scordialos, Jakob Erle, Toke Paludan Møller, Sven Ole Smith, Ulrik Golodnoff were there.
Experiment was interesting and useful. The usual spirit of a community college was a bit different. The balance was more in the direction of individual/personal development compared to the usual focus on the common public space. The group has a community spirit – but different. Practical problem: Maria lost the residence she had an agreement with – the whole event had to take place in a huge hotel. Distances within the buildings were too big. JP sees a lot of possibilities, but the concept has to be adjusted.
Maria didn’t want to make the content too concrete before the meeting – probably in order to give as much space to the participants as possible. The follow-up of the meeting can be intensified next time.
JP: Lisbeth Albinus has been in the ACC office working on a voluntarily basis. Doing an excellent job.
JP: IPC – JP went there together with Lucie.
JP: EAEA General Assembly Lillehammer (N) incl validation-conference: JP and Lucie attending. EAEA very much focusing on validation of adult education. The stronger part of EAEA-members are the “evening schools”. Interesting to hear about the Norwegian model on validating “real competences”. Gave a good preparation for SECCIII in September.
EAEA General Assembly: Some parts of the statutes were changed. In the new formulation they proposed to exclude organisations working across borders – probably not intended. Problem, because this would in the future exclude in principle organizations like ACC. The board of the EAEA is going to take all points mentioned in a discussion about European transnational organisations into consideration.
JP: Erik and JP taking part in the NECE (Network European Citizenship Education) conference, Berlin. Topic was “National Experiences, European Challenges”. Just as last year in Santiago the title was chosen “wrong”: It was not that much about European Citizenship Education – slightly more about Citizenship Education in Europe. That conflict was much more present in Santiago last year. This was not the case in Berlin. The spirit was much different from Santiago – the enthusiasm and level more cautious. Unfortunately Wallstroem signed off the meeting in the morning just before her speech. Her chief of cabinet attended the meeting, but was not eager to answer questions. Some observers from the Council of Europe were present, too. Organisers: German Federal Agency for Civic Education, DARE, Democracy and Human Rights Education in Adult Learning, EAEA, European Association of Adult Education, Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture
EJ: European Year of Citizenship through Education. Final evaluation conference in Sinaia, Romania. Erik participated on behalf of the ACC. A lot of representatives of projects all over Europe were gathered. The meeting was to some degree a political thing. It was difficult to measure the output of the year and the meeting. Projects were often incomparable. Many projects were not focused on Europe - but dealing with democracy-learning in general. European citizenship learning was not on their agenda. EJ proposed a European Community College format program to the Council of Europe representatives attending the meeting. Council of Europe presented a proposal for an NGO Forum on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights with 100-200 participants.
European Year of Citizenship finished in May.
JP: ACC is preparing a Dutch-Danish-Latvian meeting. The application in Latvia was rejected.
JP: Wallstroems White Paper on Communication was presented on 1 February 2006.
JP: Active Citizenship Community College (ACCC) was carried out in Elsinore (DK) end of March. Very good output (ACCENT 4) – good spirit created among the group.
JP: Malene’s contract finished on 1 May 2006. JP has only good things to say about Malene. The board expresses its thankfulness to Malenes great job during the last year.
JP: Wallstroem was speaking at Copenhagen University on 19 May 2006. She emphasised that the “Danish Folk High Schools have showed the way forward”. Even if imprecise, she is probably thinking about Youth2002 and the format we tried to prove.
Camilla Englyst attended a hearing with Wallstroem same day on behalf of ACC. Clearly, some points formulated by the ACC and presented to her have made their way into her speeches.
4. Future of the ACC
JP introdution: This meeting is taking place on the background of the immense success ACC has had since it formulated its ideas and strategy six years ago. The concept and the ideas of ACC, lobbying for making visible a way to let emerge a European public sphere by the help of the residential school format, have made their way to the top level of European politics.
This has been hard work, and there are four reasons that the board take into consideration for the decision that we should stop the high level of decentralized activities (Community Colleges where ACC Committees hold the budget of the event behalf of ACC), as we have known it up until now:
a) The original idea of proving that the model of European Community College Courses function has been proved and made it to the highest political level. We have made it. Where the idea is now, we don’t believe we can affect it much more. There is not the same necessity in proving it anymore.
b) It has been very important, that ACC Committees had to take the full economic responsibility of administering money in accordance with sponsors’ demands and the ACC statutes. In the last years organizers had to sign a contract with the ACC to ensure that ACC does not have to cover eventual deficits caused by ACC Committees. Even this new system doesn’t work proper, as we have faced economical troubles in the context of ACC Committees duties – one time it was rather serious.
c) MM and JP have been working very closely together on ACC and private matters. The uncertain financing of ACC left MM and JP in a situation in which future perspectives became unrealistic – both in Denmark with its policy towards non-wealthy immigrants and in Macedonia with its difficult conditions. They have both paid a too high price for the ACC-idealism.
c) Soeren (Nyt Europe / Youth2002) has been positioned as a special adviser of Wallstroem. He is probably going to use our ideas concerning the use of the European Community College format – but in the same version as in Youth2002. The Danish scene has been supporting him intensely. It is good that our ideas have made their way to the top. However, we have to remember that when Elly left Youth 2002 in protest it was because of discontinuity, top-down-arrangements and intransparency. According to JP it is going to be even more difficult to get through with our bottom-up policy in praxis.
All these factors seen together plus the success we had should lead us to the conclusion that until new financial certainty emerges we cannot take the responsibility of handing over activities to ACC Committees as before.
The consequence may be that we do not apply for new EU-running-cost-money for next year. As we cannot present a substantial activity programme it is not realistic. Nobody has declared interest in becoming General Secretary instead of JP and to take over the financial responsibility and the work.
This means that ACC will have to lower its activity profile significantly in 2007 if no big changes will happen.
CG asks the board to find alternatives. Problem that we have been doing a good lobbywork – but what about having influence on the outcome? Probably the CCs designed eventually by Wallstroem with a special adviser Soeren will look very different from what we imagined.
Without EU-money ACC could be continued as a debate forum. It would be nice to reinvent our mission and our strategic goals and means. It could be great to survive as a big network and a kind of trademark in counseling European Citizenship Education.
JP can see a future where we should necessary call people to go to a conference. It could be like now – ACC members who already have interesting contacts and positions could continue their lobby-work on this level. JP is mostly concerned about the activities that are very time-consuming. The activities have been absorbing most of the power. We can easily continue participating in conferences and e.g. letters to the editor and even more than that.
JP points out that ACC could continue without money – especially taking into account that an increasing number of board members have found paid jobs.
JP points out that the board should say that it temporarily cannot take the responsibility of the organisation of Community College Courses.
EJ remarks that he has a feeling of uneasiness. A feeling of defeat. On the other hand side he understands JP’s points very well.
JP emphasises that one focus has always been to make our ideas and model known in the European Commission. This worked out.
EA points out that reframing the ACC seems to be the only possible solution. But we should also think of our members. We should avoid keeping initiatives just on an individual level. We should rethink the membership and activities deriving from it. The members have a lot of potential that could be activated. We could lower the activities but have to intensify the activity level of members.
CG would like to avoid of giving members the image that all of ACC closes down. Lowering the activity level may not lead to a close down of the whole network. We need a change of our strategy. The goal has to be to make it very clear to the members that their activity is needed more than before.
JP: We have to make it very clear to the GA that under given economical circum stances the board cannot take the formal responsibility any more of ACC members having the possibility to organise CCCs on behalf of the ACC due to the lack of funding and high financial risk – although we have been elected to do that. This has to be seen on top of what CG said. On the one hand side the organisation of courses will be lowered, while there should be a special focus on other activities.
The board approves the proposal of the chairman.
CG proposes more activities on the internet. CG: it could be a problem that some people have been board members for almost seven years. JP: if we lower our activity-level the rumors will kill us after two-three years because we will be an organisation without residential activities. For CG the question of board members in future is very important too. Content and people.
JP: Alternative scenarios/Miracles:
1. Miracle scenarios of finding money before the GA could be: to follow an idea brought up by Eva and found a company aside of the ACC.
Private Enterprise. The idea would be to move all private services offered by ACC into a private company. The board should ask the members whether they could agree on using their data for the purpose of earning money for the ACC and its purposes. Question whether this should concern the mail-address only or also the email-address. JP estimates that 2/3 of the members would approve it. Founding a private enterprise e.g. in Denmark is not a problem. The board of the ACC could become the board of a private enterprise or e.g. directors. This could be one way forward. This would again give a lot of work. JP would give it a try – but only if the board assures him of its full support. Content could be organising courses. We already do this on a very low level (it has to be less than 50.000 DKR). If the board would like to take this step the board would have to approve a proposal to the ACC – and John should be willing to invest his energy in the project.
JCN/CG: First, the board should take a decision on this issue. If the board agrees with the proposal, the board should present the alternatives to the members on how to continue with the ACC. One of the possibilities should be to found a private firm to support financially the ACC. It could be an idea to present three possibilities to the members, indicating that the scenario of a private enterprise is the one the board perceives as being the most critical one. Therefore, we should ask for comments especially on this issue. The email to the members should continue all reasons for the board to put this issue to a discussion (financial risk, no EU-money next year).
JP: there have been some schools asking us from time to time, but these schools don’t have much money at this point of time. Until now we couldn’t make use of the ACC contacts in projects that JP has been involved in, e.g. Cultures in dialogue. The big events are making the difference.
It should still be important to keep the ideas of the ACC as the most important thing and intention of earning money.
EA: Creation of a company should be presented to ACC’s members as a possibility to get better chances to get a job. Members could present themselves on the homepage with their expertise/personal profile. JP should still be in charge of taking care of the database.
The board recommends sending an email to the members in the version proposed by CG/JCN. JP investigates the conditions of founding a private company.
The Board agrees that it does not have to ask the General Assembly for a permission to found a private company aside of the ACC.
2. Institutional membership. Trying to allow a new kind of (paying) institutional members in the ACC – not only individual members as now. Address as a beginning German and Nordic Folk High Schools. The challenge of this is that the magic as we know it will be over. ACC would then become more like a traditional (interest) organisation. Knud-Erik Therkelsen was contacted by JP. KET guessed that schools would have no interest in dominating ACC – institutional membership could be an option. An institutional membership would demand a change of the ACC statutes. A guess is that just by being there ACC already today provides the Danish Folk High schools with around 15 “annual-pupils”. This means 1.500.000 DKK for the Danish Folk High schools alone. Additionally, all courses organised by ACC in Denmark have to be seen as a positive financial input for the Danish Folk High Schools. The new institutional members would become a voice at the GA, but no access to information about other members. The motivation for institutional members would still be to support ACC’s work in using the Community College format in order to support a common European public sphere.
The board is quite critical towards this idea.
3. Because of some hints from members, we have addressed Claus Soerensen and Margot Wallstroem – one of the heads of a DG of Wallstroem.
Another hint gives a small hope that Rite/FECC could be seen as a substitute for the failed Terezin-project.
JP says that it would be necessary to talk directly to Wallstroem.
According to EA the COM plans to organise a lot of events following the Youth Week. JP adds that they have been doing this in different shapes since at least the 1960s. But if they just want to see young people who smile they will fail with their strategy. JP presented a version of his letter addressed to Wallstroem to the board (Written reply on questionnaire/roundtable with EU/Commissioner Wallstroem on Friday 19 May 2006 at Post and Tele Museet Copenhagen. ACC represented by Camilla Englyst).
The board approves the text of the letter.
The text should be send to Anders Willumsen in the EU COM office in Copenhagen. Additionally we will send it as a letter directly to Wallstroem.
The EU cannot support education institutions. Another option would be the support of an invisible school. According to John we could take the task of organising Community College Courses on a full time basis. Another idea could be Rite.
Last year we sent a letter to the Rite board with a copy to Niels. We said that we will withdraw in case that we would not receive accounts for 2004. The reason was that we didn’t believe in a future for Rite as long as they don’t follow the statutes and decisions. The precondition for ACC to join the Rite school was that the property should be transferred from Niels to a self-bearing institution. The invitation to the General Assembly was sent too late. The accounts of 2005 were not attached, and the accounts for 2004 are still missing. JP called Linda to hear her opinion. She advised not to withdraw completely and to ignore it. Inese, who is our board-member at Rite will probably be reelected today. Since then the address to Wallstroem took place, therefore JP advises to follow Linda’s advise.
The board decides ask again for the accounts of 2004/2005. The board expresses its serious concerns.
GA Rite new board of representatives. Instead of appointing seven representatives to represent ACC at the Rite board of representatives JP proposes that the ACC board could function as the representatives in the Rite board until the situation is stabilised.
The board decides to consider itself as being representatives in Rite.
6. ACC General Assembly
Lucie proposed that we could do the GA in Elsinore. We can stay at Lucies place. It is going to take place in Elsinore on 2 September 2006. We need a new board. Lucie, JC and CG have to be reelected. We do not need to propose any changes of the statutes. The main thing is an information to be given about the future of the ACC.
7. Committee work .
The board concludes that it has closed for taking any more responsibility of courses organised (see above).
CG proposes that we should still facilitate information to those who wish to organise courses. ACC will have a lower profile, but we should still encourage members to organise courses – just not under the label and responsibility of ACC.
9. Future projects
JP points out that there are no committees whose work has been approved apart from the French group. Last week they told JP that they step back from the organisation. Rhisiart and some friends proposed to take it over.
There is a call from Action V, support measures to the youth programme. They ask for innovation in European citizenship education. They give up to 300.000 Euro over a period of three years. JP considers writing an application. This would be, if it should work out, be organised from the office. However, a weak point is the co-financing. Deadline for applications is 1 July 2006.
JP remarks that we need a new person present in Brussels to participate in EUCIS’ meetings. EUCIS has finally decided about their annual fee of 250 Euro. We did not pay yet – it is difficult since we do not have a representative there.
The board decides to investigate whether EUCIS has any possibilities of changing the membership fee.
JP points out that the term participatory democracy reappeared on the European scene. As it is understood right now, this concerns the big organizations on a European level. The European Economic and Social Committee has decided upon criteria for “organized civil society” among civil society altogether who could give the EESC input. The EESC set up criteria in order for the European Civil Society to ensure representativity. Problem: they seemingly only want to take umbrella-organisations who are registered on a national level. Hereby, they exclude European organisations.
The board points out that it is very critical towards the exclusion of European organisations.
Forum Civique Europeen. Campaign for a Statute of European associations. JP points out that it would be difficult for the group standing behind to motivate Central- and Eastern European countries to participate with their nowadays choice of words. COM has taken the proposal off the table completely. The campaign to put it back on the table of the COM has a working group. The campaign is not only about the statute, but also about possible transnational meetings and European funding of it.
CG: Technical problem concerning the ACC email account. She receives approximately 30 spam-mails per day. Difficult, as soon as she doesn’t have the time to check it every day. JP is going to have a look on this problem as soon as possible since ACC has its own server.
JP: Personally very happy about the decisions taken today. It gives some possibilities.