In 23 cooperation projects from 67 European cities and regions, we are working with the European Committee of the Regions on giving European citizens a voice in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Conference on the Future of Europe invites citizens from all over Europe to exchange ideas and to shape the common future of the EU. But how can good joint results be achieved in the Citizens’ Dialogues? And how will it be possible to ensure that the agreed proposals are taken up and acted upon by policymakers? Based on years of experience, we can say that all this can succeed when citizen participation is intensively planned and structured in accordance with quality principles.
Local, regional and transnational: citizen participation at all levels in Europe
As part of our cooperation with the Committee of the Regions, we support local, regional and cross-border citizen participation projects in 67 European cities and regions—representing the diversity of towns and regions in Europe—between October 2021 and Spring 2022. The results will be submitted to local and regional policymakers, and incorporated into the Conference on the Future of Europe. The aim is to ensure that citizens’ voices are heard at both regional and EU level.
The quality principles: inclusive, deliberative and effective
Quality principles are embedded in all Citizens’ Dialogues. The Dialogues are inclusive: normal citizens, and not only the usual suspects, take part. They are selected at random to ensure that the participants are as diverse as possible. The Dialogues are deliberative: every citizen has a chance to speak in large and small rounds of discussion. They gather information on the topic, develop ideas, deliberate and formulate collective recommendations. The Dialogues are effective: administrators and politicians are involved right from the start, to ensure that the results developed by the citizens are followed up on and—at least partially—implemented.
Creating citizen participation competency across Europe
With our participation expertise we train administrative and political representatives from the 67 regions. We communicate the know-how required to implement the innovative methods and quality principles of the (digital) Citizens’ Dialogues. We also place our expertise, practice-relevant instructions, concrete (moderation) training and the general structure needed to conduct citizen participation projects at the organizers’ disposal. This ensures that the citizens’ proposals are really heard and implemented, and that participative skills are built into public authorities at local and regional level—practical measures which strengthen local, regional and European democracy.
The Conference on the Future of Europe
The Conference on the Future of Europe initiates debates and discussion rounds among citizens from across Europe, who can exchange ideas and help to shape our common future. The Conference is the first of its kind ever: it is a Europe-wide experiment in democracy which offers a new, public forum for open, inclusive and transparent citizens’ debates about core priorities and challenges in Europe.