Student team from Bucharest wins the ImagineEU competition

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The European Commission has awarded the prizes to the winners of the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary schools. Three teams from: France, Italy, and Romania were honoured during a ceremony at the Commission headquarters.  

The ImagineEU video competition called on young Europeans to practice what it takes to be an active EU citizen. Participants were invited to think of concrete ideas that could benefit citizens across the EU, mirroring the essence of the European Citizens’ Initiative.  The competition generated a lot of interest from students from across the EU: in total more than 400 videos were submitted, featuring pupils (of the last two years of secondary school) from all around the EU.

One of the three winning team is made up of 7 students from  Liceul Teoretic International de Informatica Bucuresti (ICHB) proposes a ‘rEUniON Debate Club Platform’ – a structured environment for informed discussions about the European Union, fostering a deeper understanding of its policies, challenges, and impact.

According to the winning team in Romania, “The idea of the IMAGINE EU contest enticed us from the very first moment! Our team “ICHB saluta EPAS” was always keen on debate, believing that “words are really our greatest weapon. Our concept and winning video, rEUniON Debate Club Platform is more than an idea. It is a belief that must be transformed into reality. We know that we can do this with the support of the European Union. We want to congratulate all the participant teams for their great effort, throughout the 1st and 2nd stage of this European competition and invite them to join the rEUniON Platform the very moment it is launched.  We are proud of being Europeans and we know that international communication among all the European students is without a doubt the best way forward, towards a balanced, safe and united European Union.” 

The three winning videos were selected by a jury, following an initial round of public voting that determined the top 50 videos. The three teams, accompanied by their teachers, participate in a three-day study trip to Brussels where they have the chance to learn more about the functioning of the EU and the role of the different EU institutions. “Your creativity and enthusiasm for the European project really impressed me. With engaged citizens like you, I am convinced that the European Union will be in good hands in the future. The ‘ImagineEU’ competition is inspired by the European Citizens’ Initiative – a unique instrument that allows EU citizens to influence EU policy-making. We invited you to put yourselves in the shoes of the EU policy-makers and propose ideas that you think could benefit the entire EU. And our invitation was met with a lot of interest from schools from across the EU, even beyond our expectations. We received over 400 submissions, with a wide range of ideas for action at EU level. Many of these ideas are a reaction to challenges that young people, and in fact all of us, face every day. From protecting our environment, integrating migrants, regulating artificial intelligence to adapting the educational systems to these new challenges. I would like to thank your teachers who supported you in taking part in this competition and encouraged you to think big.”

What is the European Citizens’ Initiative? 

The European Citizens’ Initiative is the first tool enabling citizens from all EU countries to collaborate and advocate legislative change at the European level on issues they find significant.

Introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the ECI has been operational for twelve years.  The ECI seeks to engage EU citizens across borders on matters of common concern fostering a sense of unity and partnership in transnational civil society and democracy.

Covering policy areas within the European Commission’s competence, such as environment, agriculture, transport, consumer protection, and social rights, the ECI empowers every EU citizen to sign and support ongoing citizens’ initiatives.

Since 2012, 110 initiatives have been registered, 11 of them are currently collecting signatures and additional 5 will start collecting signatures soon.

In total 10 initiatives received an answer from the European Commission.

European citizens’ initiatives are impacting EU legislation. While multiple actions in response to recent initiatives are under preparation, a concrete example of EU legislation that already applies in the EU is the revised Drinking Water Directive, which was proposed in response to the successful ECI Right2Water.  This directive requires Member States, among others, to improve access to water and ensure access for vulnerable and marginalised groups.  Finally, in 2024, the Commission adopted new minimum hygiene standards for materials and products that come into contact with drinking water.

The ECI in Romania 

Over 950 citizen organizers have initiated 110 ECIs, with a substantial contribution from Romania, boasting 48 Romanian organizers. The collective efforts have yielded an impressive outcome of over 18 million signatures supporting these initiatives across the European Union. Remarkably, Romania has significantly contributed to this figure, amassing over half a million signatures, underscoring the commitment of Romanian citizens to shaping the EU’s agenda through democratic participation.

EU Democracy in Action Toolkit for Schools  

In 2023 the European Commission also launched the “EU Democracy in Action – Have Your Say with the European Citizens’ Initiative’ – toolkit for schools

The interactive toolkit for schools is designed to equip high school students with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to become more active and engaged EU citizens.

The toolkit comprises four thematic units, each with a different focus, moving from more general information about the European Union to specific information and activities related to the European Citizens’ Initiative. It involves interactive group work and project work.

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