The first expert organisation to advise the EU to use an online platform to engage as many citizens as possible during the Conference on the Future of Europe is now calling for the creation of a permanent mechanism of citizens consultation.
Europe’s People’s Forum, a network of professional citizen’s consultation partners in every member state, works to strengthen democracy by connecting citizens to policy making at European and national levels between elections.
Bent Noerby Bonde, Secretary General of Europe’s People’s Forum said: “We know citizens are keen to be involved in decision-making throughout the electoral cycle. A permanent mechanism for consulting citizens would give them just such an opportunity.”
Following a year of delay, the Portuguese EU Council presidency has finally brokered an agreement with the Parliament and the Commission to allow the Conference to launch.
Given the focus on who would run the proceedings, not much time is left to the practical steps of involving any larger part of the Europeans in the process that needs to be done to make the conference a success.
Engaging Europe’s citizens in a conversation about the future of Europe requires a number of steps to be taken both locally, nationally and at European level to ensure that the conversation fully reaches and involves the European public.
Roger Casale, President of Europe’s People’s Forum and founder of New Europeans, said:
“We want to help make the conference a success. My concern is that many citizens won’t access the online platform, unless a number of steps are taken, involving local social partners, CSOs and professionals to bring the citizens on board.”
The Constitutional Affairs Committee with the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament have been examining ideas for such a permanent mechanism of citizen participation. The purpose would be to increase citizens’ sense of ownership over the EU’s strategic direction and to give citizens’ a clear sense that the European project reflects their needs and aspirations.
Such an approach would bring together the use of citizens assemblies, and representative citizens’ dialogues, but also an improved European Citizens’ Initiative, petitions and other tools of citizen participation.
Commenting further, Bent Noerby Bonde said:
“Europe’s Peoples’ Forum has proposed an independent foundation to implement and gradually refine a range of instruments of democratic participation. The foundation could be set up by the European Parliament, include representation from organised civil society, EESC, CoR and national parliaments.”
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