Between a trip to Brussels to take the measurements of the office and another to buy the necessary furniture, the big day is coming up. The opening of Cittadinanzattiva’s representative office at the European Union in Brussels marks an important historical moment in the 37 years of our organization.
An operation conducted personally by the Secretary General Antonio Gaudioso, who should be given credit for having followed-up to his statement at the National Congress of Chianciano Terme in June 2012 that “Europe is our home and our future, and it has extraordinary spaces to enhance thirty years of work of our organization and, at the same time, open our minds by comparing it with the best civic experiences from other countries”. The best way to give meaning and substance to these words is by "taking up a house" in Brussels, even though it’s rented.
In addition to opening an office in Brussels, in the last four years Cittadinanzattiva has opened three protection centers in Colombia, promoted the creation of a civic association in this country, and offered young students and graduates internship opportunities in the topic of European politics. All of these activities underline Cittadinanzattiva’s increasing international mission and is far from being negligible. A commitment that is difficult to find among other Italian civic associations.
For the European branch of Cittadinanzattiva, Active Citizenship Network, the opening of the office in Brussels is not a denial of its characteristic of being a civic entity with “no headquarters in Brussels”, but a need to adapt to the changing times. Even though the Brussels’ office will refer back to the headquarters in Rome, it will still shorten the distance and time between us and the decision makers at the European level. This goes in line with my wishes, expressed to the National Board, when it decided to appoint me as the Responsible for the European Policies of Cittadinanzattiva and Director of Active Citizenship Network. This is certainly a big responsibility, especially in light of the investment linked to the opening of the office.
This will hopefully be the prelude to new opportunities of growth; consolidate with greater ease existing relationships and create new European partnerships; increase knowledge, and bring at the European level the cooperation that already exists at the national level with many partners in the field of health, consumer affairs, justice, education, etc.
Maybe the first example could be with CIA-Italian Farmers Confederation that will host our office in Brussels.
Clearly, the objective to raise from a national to a European level, a series of activities and strategic partnerships, is not easy. To overcome this challenge it requires a new approach by all the components of our organization, with the hope that Gaudioso’s analysis on the recent ills of our country is shared, namely that in Italy “not only do we not have too much Europe, but we have too little of it”.
Mariano Votta, Director of Active Citizenship Network