Our Learning and Exchange Forum (LEF) is a moment for CONCORD members across Europe to come together to exchange and learn from one another about how to tackle current challenges. We do this by showcasing best practices, sharing inspiration, and thinking together.

During 1 and 2 March, 60+ colleagues from both policy and communication profiles joined us in Brussels to gear up ahead of the 2024 European Parliament elections and the subsequent institutional renewal.

The European Parliament elections 2024 and the EU institutional change represent a key opportunity to bring forward our vision, to secure commitments from EU decision-makers, and to move together towards an equal and sustainable future for all. At the same time, the elections 2024 will take place in a challenging context where internal crises will dominate an already saturated environment. This led us to the theme of this LEF: How can we make our voices heard and break through the noise?

The first day was kicked-off by looking around at the inspiring campaigns already brought forward by our members and other actors working towards positive social change. In particular, we highlighted 4 creative campaigns:

ECCJ – Justice is everyone’s busines
Partos – adopt an SDG
EWAG coalition – European week of action for girls
WWF – Together4forests

After this boost of creativity, it was the time to get inspired by our keynote speaker, Thijs Berman. Mr. Berman is a former MEP (from 2004 to 2014) who then joined the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy as Executive Director. He shared some do’s and don’ts that civil society organisations should follow when reaching out to politicians. For example, being creative and building trust-based relationships.

The afternoon opened with an exchange with journalists moderated by our board member Ida Ragnarsson (CONCORD Sweden). The panel, composed of Eleonora Vasques (EurActiv), Lauren Walker (Brussels Time), and Teresa Kuchler (Svenska Dagbladet), exchanged best practices on working with the media as well as emerging trends that will be influential in the elections.

Our jam-packed first day closed with a presentation from Christian Skrivervik, Head of Press and Communications at European Movement International. This presentation focused on how to use data and audience analysis to optimise campaigns and effectively reach new audiences.

The next day, we set-out to apply all our learning towards shaping our narrative and our collective action around the elections. After the opening speech of our board member, Javier Garcia de la Oliva (ActionAid), we left the floor to Fotis Filippou from Mobilisation Lab. Fotis is a campaign strategist, trainer, facilitator, and human rights consultant that guided us in starting to draft our objectives and narratives, mapping our audiences and allies and defining our Theory of Change.

The road is still long and the elections are only 15 months away. The outcomes of this LEF will feed into our strategy and the design of our work around the European Parliament elections and institutional change, led by our new election task force. To make our voices heard and maximise our impact it is essential to keep working together.


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