VP Jourova on the screen of a mobile phone

EU Commission Vice-President 
Věra Jourová on digital participation in Europe 

The aim of the Conference on the Future of Europe is to offer citizens a completely new way of participating in EU policymaking. Along with a group of participation pioneers, we met Věra Jourová to discuss what digital participation should look like. The right tools, intelligible language and, above all, political impact are essential.  

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Foto Dominik Hierlemann
Dr. Dominik Hierlemann
Senior Expert
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Anna Renkamp
Senior Project Manager

Content

The digital participation possibilities offered by a new multilingual online platform are a core element of the Conference on the Future of Europe. How can comprehensive and inclusive participation of citizens from all Member States succeed? How can we guarantee that citizens’ contributions are really taken into account? What needs to be done to ensure that digital, long-term participation plays a bigger role in future European policymaking? 

These questions were the focus of our online discussion with Vice-President Věra Jourová. In the course of our cooperation with the King Baudouin Stiftung and the Open Society Foundations, we had invited decision-makers from EU institutions and Member States, as well as scientists, think-tank experts and representatives of NGOs, to our interactive Zoom dialogue.  Around 50 participation pioneers – first in breakout rooms, then in the plenum – joined us in the discussion with the Vice-President of the EU Commission. 

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Three main priorities emerged from the discussion  

  1. In future, the EU must pay more attention to diversity in political processes than it has in the past. The Conference on the Future of Europe must not only address citizens who desire greater integration of and within the EU, but also give disadvantaged societal groups a meaningful say in the discussion. The aim is to develop digital tools that guarantee quantity and quality. What is required are “one-click” formats to gather individual opinions, as well as other formats which allow greater audience participation and interaction in the intensive processing of policymaking proposals.   
  2. While new tools and modern participation formats are undoubtedly important, it is still down to EU politicians and bureaucrats to use plain language: ban Brussels officialese!  
  3. In the wake of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the EU must design a coherent, more  attractive participation infrastructure. It should ensure that contributions from citizens are integrated into decision-making processes and leave a clear participative footprint.  

Above all, there is a vast amount of untapped potential in the intellegent combination of offline and online processes and procedures.

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Information

The Bertelsmann Stiftung, King Baudouin Foundation and Open Society Foundations have been working for many years to promote more and innovative citizen participation at all political levels. Together, we founded an alliance that discusses new concepts for the European Union. Political decision-makers join forces with experts on the topics of Europe, democracy, and participation to consider concrete ways to implement the concepts.