[Subsidiarity]: “Principle according to which decisions should be taken as closely to citizens as possible.” For the Assembly of European Regions (AER), the defence of the principle of subsidiarity remains a core value within the vision of a “Europe of regions”, respectful of the idea of bottom-up governance and which allows regional authorities to make decisions consistent with the citizens’ real needs. It is in this context that the AER Youth Regional Network (YRN) called on regional representatives from across Europe to further use social networks in an attempt to reduce the gap between policy makers and citizens. Today, it is precisely through these social networks that young people can actively, immediately, and dynamically participate in and provide solutions to the everyday problems of our regions. Young people have thus the means to keep track of the activities of their elected representatives, who, in turn, can make decisions in line with requests of their voters.
Almere, Flevoland (NL), 26 August 2011
The democratisation of social networks
- Social networks are decentralised, free, open to all citizens, and immediate sources of information.
- Facebook has over 500 million users; people spend over 700 billion minutes online per month; access from mobile phones means the flow of information is constant.
- Twitter has over 200 million users; there are more than 95 million tweets per day.
- LinkedIn has over 100 million users and has become the main search engine for employers.
- Every minute, 35 hours worth of video are posted on Youtube.
”In my area, all politicians use social networks. We are very aware that young people do not speak the same language as adults, and, as such it is a highly effective way of being close to our citizens.” Said Rune Fredriksen, Regional Advisor of Østfold (N). “Social networks are nevertheless a particular phenomenon: It is young people who know best about the opportunities and dangers of this new world, so it is really up to us to learn from them,” he explained.
The most emblematic example, which has been discussed throughout the various workshops, is that of the tragedy of the 22nd of July in Oslo, where it was in fact, through tweets from victims, that the Norwegian authorities learnt about the facts.
The commitment of AER and YRN
Elected officials and the members of the YRN present at the Summer School were given the opportunity to use social networks, including the AER’s Twitter profile #aerss. Many of them are now part of this network and monitor each others activities.
For AER, Cyber-subsidiarity has clearly become a new tool to encourage young Europeans to participate in the political life of their regions.
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