Statement by the Secretary General of ALDA Antonella Valmorbida, on the Russian Federation's Local Elections in Annexed Ukrainian Territories

Strasbourg, 15. September 2023


Statement by the Secretary General of ALDA Antonella Valmorbida, on the Russian Federation’s Local Elections in Annexed Ukrainian Territories


As the Secretary General of ALDA, I would like to address a matter of great concern that has recently come to our attention: the decision by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation to organise local elections in certain Ukrainian territories, specifically parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhiа regions. This decision has raised significant questions about its conformity with international law, as well as the broader implications for regional stability and the well-being of the affected communities.

Antonella Valmorbida – ALDA Secretary General

at the ELoGE award ceremony 


Dear Ministers, dear Mayors, dear participants

I am pleased to be here today with all of you, as Secretary General of ALDA, the European Association for Local Democracy, but also having a significant experience working with local authorities in Croatia, North Macedonia, and Kosovo.

ALDA, the European Association for Local Democracy, in its over 20 years of existence, has the mission of promoting local democracy, citizen participation, and cooperation through work with local and regional authorities alongside civil society actors. It was created in 1998 by the Council of Europe. It is a global alliance that has undertaken many projects and initiatives, primarily on the local level, and is a key European player, particularly in the Balkans. It has developed a network of local institutions and civil society organizations that includes over 350 members from over 42 European and neighboring countries. ALDA cooperates with authorities on the European and local levels and provides support for them with these projects. We represent a unique organization in the working for and governed by local and regional authorities and civil society groups.

ALDA acts as a coordinator and supporter for a network of 15 Local Democracy Agencies. The coordination of this network of LDAs was the original purpose for its creation in 1998. We celebrate 30 years of activities in the region.

ALDA's Pivotal Role in Strengthening Democracy: Insights from Gdańsk Mayor Ms. Aleksandra Dulkiewicz

In a world where democracy, freedom, and human rights are constantly under scrutiny, organisations like ALDA play a crucial role in promoting democratic values. Mayor Ms. Александра Дулькевич, of Гданьск (ALDA Member), who also chairs the CoR Working Group for Ukraine, recently emphasised the significance of such organisations during the 12th CORLEAP Annual Meeting held in Batumi, Georgia, on September 7, 2023.

Mayor Dulkiewicz’s words underscored the importance of non-governmental partners, organisations, and associations that direct their democratic efforts towards Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. Among these champions of democracy, ALDA stands out, particularly through its innovative concept of Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs), which it implements in EaP countries.

One LDAs’ exemplary success story, according to Mrs. Aleksandra, is that of Мариупольское агентство местной демократии,. Despite Russia’s seizure of this city, consistent international support has enabled it to continue functioning, thanks to the hospitality of other cities in Ukraine. 

This remarkable resilience showcases the unwavering commitment of organisations like ALDA to promoting democracy and good governance in challenging environments

ALDA’s dedication to supporting Ukraine and its people has been steadfast since the beginning of the conflict in February 2022. In July 2023, the ALDA team convened in Brussels to meet with a delegation from the Ukrainian Parliament, supported by the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform (CPLR). This meeting presented a valuable opportunity to introduce ALDA’s flagship initiative in Ukraine to Members of the Ukrainian Parliament, ministry representatives, and national associations of cities. Read more about this event здесь.

ALDA’s dedication is aligned with the fundamental values on which the European Union was founded, including human dignity, freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights. In Ukraine’s ongoing struggle to reclaim its land, freedom, and democracy, ALDA stands as a beacon of support, ensuring that these shared values remain at the forefront.

In a world where democracy is continually tested, ALDA’s role in strengthening democracy at the local level is a testament to the enduring spirit of cooperation and solidarity. Mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz’s acknowledgment of ALDA’s contribution underscores the organisation’s invaluable role in promoting democracy, citizen participation, and the return to a free and peaceful Ukraine.

As we reflect on these efforts in the lead-up to Europe Day, it is essential to recognize and celebrate those who tirelessly champion the values that underpin our shared humanity. 



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Expressing Solidarity: Standing with Libya in the face of recent floods

At ALDA, we are deeply saddened by the recent catastrophic floods that have struck Libya. Our hearts go out to the people of Libya who are enduring this challenging time, and we want to express our sincere condolences to those affected by this natural disaster.

In times of crisis, it’s essential that we come together as a global community to support one another

In addition to the tragic flood in Libya, we are also mindful of the earthquake that recently shook Morocco. We’ve previously shared information on how you can extend your assistance and support to those impacted by this earthquake, and we continue to encourage everyone to contribute to these relief efforts.

Whether it’s Libya, Morocco, or any other region facing natural disasters, the compassion and generosity of individuals and organisations make a significant difference in helping communities rebuild and recover.

If you wish to contribute to relief efforts in Libya or Morocco or stay updated on ways to help, stay updated on our сайтом или social channels, where we provide information on various initiatives and organisations working to provide aid to those in need. 

ALDA remains committed to providing support and resources during these challenging times, and we stand with the affected communities as they work towards recovery and resilience. Together, we can make a positive impact and help these regions rebuild stronger than ever before.



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780 applications for a WYDEr youth engagement in Africa

. WYDE Civic Engagement project (Women and Youth in Democracy initiative Civic Engagement) is generously funded by the European Union, with the primary aim of enhancing the emancipation, empowerment, and inclusion of young individuals at all levels of democratic participation: national, regional, and global. The project warmly welcomes participation from all African countries, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

The First Phase of the call for proposals, spearheaded by ALDA and in collaboration with esteemed partners such as the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), Elbarlament, а также People In Need (PIN), commenced on April 3, 2023, and concluded on August 15, 2023. In this initial phase, we received a remarkable 780 applications from 38 different countries. After a preliminary assessment of administrative eligibility criteria, over 466 projects have been pre-selected and are presently undergoing thorough evaluation.The evaluation process adheres to a comprehensive criteria grid, which takes into account the proposal’s relevance concerning the objectives and priorities of the call, its alignment with the specific needs and constraints of the target country(ies) or region(s), the criteria for selecting final beneficiaries and target groups, the value-added elements of the proposal, as well as the coherence of proposed activities with respect to the budget and the proposed timeline, while also emphasising the integration of principles rooted in human rights.

The results of this initial evaluation are scheduled for publication during the last week of September

. top 80 projects will proceed to the next stage, involving a double evaluation in collaboration with our partners. Ultimately, the finest projects will be selected for support and financing within the project’s framework. In total, 12 projects will be granted in this first phase of the call for proposals, distributed as 6 projects for Lot 1, 4 projects for Lot 2, and 2 projects for Lot 3, with a total budget allocation of €200,000.

However, the opportunity to apply is far from over. The second phase of the call for proposals is currently open and will run until mid-April 2024 . To date, we have received over a hundred applications, with more than 20 projects meeting the administrative eligibility criteria. For those interested in learning more, we will be hosting an information session on 18 October at 12:00 PM CET in English and at 2:00 PM CET in French. Please find the registration links and meeting details below.

  • 18 October at 12am CET time in English. 

           Registration link and meeting здесь .

  • 18 October at 2pm CET Time in French: 

           Registration link and meeting здесь .

We eagerly anticipate receiving your applications!



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A Comprehensive Curriculum for creative adults: Create Up project proposes extensive research on competencies to become successful entrepreneurs

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe during the spring of 2020, the Cultural Creative Sector (CCS) has been one of the hardest-hit industries. The increasing significance of entrepreneurship within the arts and culture sector is intricately linked to the rise of creative industries. In a society that does not promote cultural expression, young artists grapple with a dearth of opportunities in the job market, exacerbated by insufficient investments in their specific field. Emerging artists also function as entrepreneurs, а также lacking essential skills in certain critical areas, they may face difficulties in establishing their own enterprises or pursuits and sustaining themselves. ALDA recognizes that nurturing independence in young individuals within the cultural and artistic sphere not only unlocks their potential but also aligns perfectly with its mission to empower youth by giving them the tools to shape their own future through creativity and self-determination.

The Erasmus+ project “Create Up” has the overarching aim to minimize unemployment in the creative sector

. Erasmus+ project, Create Up has the overarching aim to minimize unemployment in the creative sector while simultaneously furnishing effective strategies for enhancing relevant, high-caliber skills and competencies. 

Within this context, a comprehensive and in-depth research effort was undertaken to comprehend the specific competencies that individuals require to achieve success in their respective fields. 

. research hypothesis posited is as follows: “Aspiring artistic entrepreneurs encounter significant challenges in establishing themselves within their chosen artistic domain. The overarching thesis that the project seeks to substantiate and subsequently elaborate upon is as follows: The enhancement of essential competencies plays a pivotal role in increasing the likelihood of individuals becoming successful entrepreneurs and converting their creative abilities into sustainable careers”.

The project initiates its analysis by focusing on the EntreComp (european ENTREpreneurship COMPetence framework), which has been introduced by the Европейская комиссия. EntreComp offers a thorough representation of knowledge, abilities, and mindsets needed for individuals to exhibit entrepreneurship and generate economic, cultural, or social value for others. Within this analytical framework, Create Up’s primary aim is to identify the key competencies that hold the utmost importance and are particularly pertinent to the specific target group of creative adults.

The primary research within the Create Up project aims to uncover:

  • The requirements and demands of creative adults.
  • The educational programs they have previously undergone.
  • The challenges they encountered during their educational background.

. results of this study can be seen in the two important tools that were used: questionnaire survey and focus group interviews.

  1. . survey of creative adult entrepreneurs involved 122 young artists/entrepreneurs with different but similar backgrounds across six countries: Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Slovenia, and Turkey. Regarding competencies based on the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework, participants were asked to assess their strengths.
  2. In the next phase of the primary research, 76 participants, primarily creative adults, were interviewed by project partners. These entrepreneurs were questioned about their careers, how they initiated their own businesses, and their level of success. The interviews primarily focused on entrepreneurial skills, encompassing their experience with EntreComp competencies and the significance of adopting a comprehensive strategy for building a progressive career. Respondents unanimously believed that creativity is innate and adequately nurtured in academies. Most respondents perceived a lack of understanding in financial, economic, and legal matters. Project management skills and communication skills were also identified as valuable for planning and organizing work effectively.

. results from this analysis lead the Create Up project to demonstrate the thesis that creative adults are struggling with becoming entrepreneurs, and in this scenario six competences were isolated within the EntreComp framework and selected as the most wanted in the entrepreneurial skills framework: spotting opportunities, financial literacy, mobilizing resources, coping with ambiguity and risk, vision, working with others.


Democracy Discourse: An In-depth Quiz to Celebrate the International Day of Democracy!

As we join the global commemoration of Democracy Day, we find ourselves in thoughtful reflection upon the enduring values and principles that underpin the democratic systems we hold dear. Democracy, with its rich history and ongoing evolution, stands as a cornerstone of societies worldwide, transcending mere governance to become a testament to the power of collective voices, equality, and civic participation.

This year, in collaboration with our esteemed partners at Brulocalis, we proudly present a quiz that delves deep into the essence of democracy. Brulocalis, a non-profit organisation created and managed by local authorities in the Brussels-Capital Region, has been a steadfast advocate for democracy, tirelessly working to support and promote its ideals.

In our shared commitment to fostering democratic principles, we’ve crafted a quiz that not only tests your knowledge but also encourages a profound exploration of the democratic values that bind us all.

Accessing the Answers: We understand that the quest for knowledge doesn’t end with the questions. To provide you with the answers, we will share them through our social media channels Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (X) и Instagram. Additionally, if you wish to receive the answers directly to your inbox, simply leave your email address at the end of the quiz, and we’ll ensure you get the inside scoop.

As you embark on this enlightening journey, you’ll encounter ten thought-provoking questions, each designed to challenge your understanding of democracy. Beyond the quiz, we will provide comprehensive explanations for each question, shedding light on the historical context and contemporary relevance of the topics explored.

Join us in celebrating Democracy Day by embracing the spirit of inquiry and the principles that underpin open, inclusive, and democratic societies. As you explore this quiz, we encourage you to share your insights, thoughts, and quiz scores with your network, contributing to a meaningful discourse on democracy that extends beyond this article.

Happy International Day of Democracy 2023!

Deliver today, prepare for tomorrow: State of the Union 2023 (#SOTEU)

In her 2023 Debate on the State of the Union 2023 (#SOTEU), the President of the Европейская комиссия, Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen outlined a compelling vision for Europe’s future, emphasising the critical role of youth in shaping the future of the European Union. As we eagerly approach the upcoming elections, the message resonates deeply with millions of first-time voters who are preparing to cast their ballots.

The Youth Perspective

Among those preparing to vote are millions of young Europeans who were born in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. These individuals, as they head to the polls, are contemplating the pressing issues that matter most to them: the conflicts at Europe’s borders, the devastating impact of climate change, the implications of artificial intelligence, and their prospects for housing and employment.

The European Union, as President von der Leyen highlighted, has always been a beacon of hope and progress, built on the idea that nations, democracies, and people can unite to create a better future. This same vision of a brighter future is shared by the youth of today, who are determined to confront the uncertainties of the world. They believe, as their predecessors did after World War II, that Europe must once again answer the call of history.

To realise this vision, President von der Leyen stressed the importance of earning the trust of Europeans and addressing their aspirations and concerns. Over the 300 days, the EU will embark on an ambitious transformation journey, with the European Parliament playing a pivotal role.

Изменение климата

. European Green Deal, at the heart of this transformation, stands as a testament to Europe’s commitment to environmental sustainability. President von der Leyen recognised the critical role of industry in the European Green Deal. ALDA aligns with this vision by supporting local initiatives that promote green and sustainable practices, ensuring a just transition for all. ALDA’s Environment & Climate (E&C) Themartic Hub has been actively engaged in supporting the Green Deal’s objectives, facilitating local democracy and citizen participation in green initiatives.

Empowering Women and Promoting Gender Equity

Another crucial aspect of the EU’s progress highlighted by President von der Leyen is its groundbreaking work on gender equality, mentioning the Women on Boards Directive and the historic accession of the EU to the Istanbul Convention. ALDA’s Thematic Hub on Gender, Inclusion, and Human Rights for women’s rights aligns with the EU’s commitment to ensuring equal pay for equal work and combating violence against women.

The Parliament’s support for proposals to combat violence against women, including the principle that “no means no,” reflects the dedication to fostering true equality.


During the State of the Union 2023, President von der Leyen emphasised the power of a bold and united Europe

Throughout the speech, President von der Leyen also emphasized the power of a bold and united Europe . Despite facing challenges such as a global pandemic and conflicts at Europe’s doorstep, the EU has made remarkable strides. Key achievements include the historic Next Generation EU investment and reform package, efforts to strengthen the health union, and initiatives to enhance European independence in critical sectors.

President von der Leyen also shared a poignant story that underlines the gravity of the situation in Ukraine. A young Ukrainian mother’s journey to find refuge in Europe, escaping the advancing Russian tanks, encapsulates the human tolerance of this conflict. Her tears di lei at the border checkpoint, as she explained to her child that they were finally “home” in Europe, underline the profound trust within the European community.

As we stand in solidarity with Ukraine, it is essential to recognize the unwavering commitment of the European Union. The EU has provided refuge to four million Ukrainians, ensuring access to housing, healthcare, and employment opportunities. The proposal to extend temporary protection to Ukrainians in the EU reflects our dedication to providing a safe place.

ALDA continues its commitment to Ukraine and its people. With the Пилотскую инициативу в Украине , the Association aims to open seven new Local Democracy Agencies in the country, in addition to the already existing ones in Mariupol and Dnipro, as instruments of peace and cohesion, in order to help Ukrainians to rebuild the country and ensure a just and peaceful future for all. 

With ALDA’s commitment to good governance, citizen participation, and sustainability, we are poised to support their initiatives and work alongside local authorities to create positive change.

Europe’s diversity, represented by its multitude of languages, arts, and cuisines, is a source of pride and strength. Together, as a united and forward-thinking continent, we can address the challenges of today and build a brighter, more prosperous future for all.

You can read President von der Leyen’s speech здесь



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Transnational Partners Meeting of the E-Voice project: standing together to support youth after the COVID-19 Pandemic

From 6 to 9 September, 2023, E-Voice project partners and beneficiaries met in Šibenik (Хорватия) for the second Transnational Partners Meeting, during which the work undertaken so far by the partners was explored. The project, under the “Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV)” programme, is carried out by a partnership of 7 countries – Italy (Gazzo), Romania (Mioveni), Croatia (Sibenik), Болгария (Union Of Bulgarian Black Sea Local Authorities – UBBSLA), Spain (Fondo Andaluz de Municipios para la Solidariadad Internacional- FAMSI), Бельгия (Association of Cities and Regions for Sustainable Resource Management- ACR+) and France (ALDA – The European Association for Local Democracy). During the three days, the representatives of 6 countries gathered together to focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youngsters’ mental health through some interesting lectures and interactive workshops. The meeting aimed not only to define the next steps for the project but also provided an opportunity to deepen partners’ understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives and education of young people.

The meeting began with an insightful lecture by Professor Marko Kovačić, an expert in Youth Studies at Edward Bernays University of Applied Sciences, who pointed out that youth is now living during a “cascade of crisis“: several entangled crisis are currently challenging new generations’ mental health, which were unfolded during stimulating group activities.

Afterwards, partners had the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Šibenik and discover more on its history, culture and development with the help of a tour guide who explained that Šibenik is a “City for Youth”: inspired by the European Charter on Local Youth Work, Association of Cities in Croatia together with the Croatian Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes publishes yearly a call inviting cities to apply for a ‘City for Youth’ certificate. To obtain this recognition, a city has to match criteria based on the analysis of existing models in Europe: there are a total of 81 criteria, divided into 8 thematic areas concerning youth participation, demography, youth employment, mobility, health and sport, youth work and culture, education and information. In order to be a ‘City for Youth’, youth policies must be successfully implemented  in at least the 50% of the thematic areas. A great example of a city that cares about its youth! 

The 3-days meeting gave to the project consortium the opportunity to be inspired on innovative youth policies and initiatives

The last day partners had the chance to touch first hand the results of a fruitful best practice implemented by the city of Šibenik during the pandemic: the Trokut Incubator of Šibenik. It is a coworking and office space that supports freelancers, digital nomads, developers, startups, and other entrepreneurs. Its primary goal is to provide education, reskilling, and, more specifically, to strengthen the young entrepreneurial and IT community. An awesome best practice to support youth’s business ideas.

During the 3 days meeting partners exchanged methods and good practices to support youth in the post pandemic period and learned what Šibenik is implementing in this regard. The next phase of the project will take place in Sevilla (Spain) in November: stay tuned for further updates!



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Experiences and best practices exchange: the EU4Accountability project and its opportunities for civil society development

Approximately 25 participants from civil society and local authorities in the Republic of Moldova benefited from a study visit to Iasi, Romania, in the EU4Accountability project framework, where they exchanged experiences and best practices in the field of voluntary sector work, community development and social accountability.  

About 25 participants learned about the organisation of social enterprises in Romania, the legal framework and cooperation with local authorities, and their social and economic impact. In this context, programmes in the field of social services, inclusion and integration of vulnerable groups in the labour market, lobbying, advocacy and support for NGO development were presented.

The visit to the Refugee Centre, organised and supported by Bethany Social Services Foundation, allowed for an exchange of impressions and best practices between participants who have been on the front line of the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. Participants learned about the integration services, psychological support and translation provided by volunteers at the centre, as well as the tailoring of support to the needs of beneficiaries. 

Participants had the chance to learn from insightful contributions in the field of voluntary sector work, community development and social accountability. 

The visit to Iasi County Council  provided insights into public funding mechanisms for the non-governmental sector, legislative aspects, and cross-border project best practices. Representatives of the Iasi Municipality spoke about the importance of developing partnerships at local community level and presented examples of municipal programmes to support youth and cultural projects. The participatory budgeting process is managed by the Local Office for Participatory Democracy, which implements projects and works through the Iasi Neighbourhood Centres. 

A good example of social enterprise development is the food hub Roade și Merinde, which provides a platform for farmers and small producers to test and market quality local products. The Foodhub’s mission is to bring local food and craft products to new consumers and to promote the culture of consuming traditional and ecologically grown products.

The study visit concluded with a visit to the Dream Art Center Iasi, a social enterprise offering creative spaces, painting workshops, music lessons, and instruments for children. Approximately 10% of the center’s students come from vulnerable families and receive free services and support from volunteer mentors.

The activity is carried out in the framework of the EU4Accountability project, which aims to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations in Moldova to better play their role as actors of governance and to increase the social accountability of local and central public administration in Moldova. 

EU4Accountability is funded by the European Union in the Republic of Moldova and implemented by ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy, Европейское партнерство за демократию и People in Need Moldova.



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The Civil Society State of the Union Report is officially out!

On 6 September 2023, Конвенции гражданского общества launched its Civil Society State of the Union report (CS SOTEU). The CS SOTEU comprises the visions and recommendations of 43 civil society organisations for a more democratic and just EU, both socially and environmentally.

The report comes after months of collaboration among a broad coalition of civil society organisations active at EU level, among which ALDA; and it is addressed to the EU and its Member States.

In early February 2023, CSE launched a new working group dedicated to following up on the Конференции о будущем ЕвропыКонференция о будущем Европы (CoFoE) (CoFoE). This Working Group (WG) is dedicated to supporting civil society and citizens’ participation in EU democracy. In doing so, the WG is continuing the collaborative and ambitious work accomplished within the Civil Society Convention for the Conference on the Future of Europe (CSOCoFoE) in 2021-2022.

The WG has been divided in thematic subgroups, chaired by one or two CSOs, and they developed the different chapters of the report, covering topics such as democracy, fundamental rights, civic space, EU’s external policies, migration and asylum, freedom of movement, social rights and justice, climate change and other environmental challenges, digital transformation, and human security.

Our coalition calls for EU decision makers to make civic space и civil dialogue central topics in the 2024 European elections, and demands that the future European Parliament and European Commission take real, meaningful steps during the next five years to better recognise, protect and engage civil society at all levels.

ALDA co-chaired with the European Civic Forum (ECF) the chapter I on EU democracy, rule of law, values, and EU in the world

Overview of the chapters of the report: 

  1. Strengthening democracy, fundamental rights & civic space in the EU and the world
  2. Enhancing freedom of movement and solidarity for a more inclusive European society
  3. A socially just EU
  4. Fighting against climate change’s impacts and addressing (global) environmental challenges
  5. A digital transformation that leaves no one behind in the EU
  6. Shielding the future of European society through human-centred security policies

ALDA co-chaired with the European Civic Forum (ECF) the chapter I on EU democracy, rule of law, values, and EU in the world. 

ALDA and the coalition of CSOs have a vision for the European Union as a vibrant democracy, where citizens actively participate in decision-making processes and have trust in their institutions. We envision an EU that upholds the rule of law, protects fundamental rights, and promotes equality and social cohesion.

Since the CoFoE, there have been significant developments that have shaped the landscape of EU democracy and values. The Civil Society Convention (CSOCoFoE)’s report, citizens’ panels, and a preliminary evaluation of the Commission’s post-CoFoE proposals have provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities we face. However, it is equally important to address non-developments, areas where progress has been stagnant or insufficient, to identify areas that require urgent attention and action; and this is what this Report attempts to do. 

During the public launch event for the Report, not only involved CSOs were present, but the agenda also welcomed a panel discussion with remarks by Professor Maria do Céu Patrão Neves, Vice-Chair of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, Mr. Giacomo Filibeck, Executive Secretary General of the Party of European Socialists, and Ms. Ingrid Bellander Todino, Head of Unit, Fundamental Rights, DG JUST; all of them provided different perspectives to the same issues at stake, shedding light on new inputs for discussion with the audience. 


Read the full Report in digital format здесь



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