Saturday 30 September 2017

Future of Europe: asking EU citizens

Serendipity is stumbling across a Facebook presentation of Mathew Lowry’s blog post The limits of public participation in policy. I had tried to explore how the future presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron started presenting and returning to the idea of democratic conventions and if president Macron’s Sorbonne speech had clarified the working of these democratic conventions.

Macron had painted the democratic conventions as an essential tool to relaunch the European project. However, they seemed to boil down to town hall meetings in willing member states, without democratic legitimacy but with potential for some interaction.

Lowry discussed if the participants in the ‘Future of Europe’ process influenced president Juncker’s State of the European Union (SOTEU) speech, as promised. His conclusion was clear: of course not.

The ‘Future of Europe process’ means the physical  Citizens’ Dialogues I described in a blog post, but also the online activities and votes Lowry took a special interest in.

He received no answer even to his one specific question on how the European Commission was processing thousands of contributions into a coherent whole for the promised impact on president Juncker’s State of the Union speech.

The promise was hardly seriously meant. Lowry went on to discuss success criteria for online public participation: specific, transparent, focused audience, resource credibility and institutional credibility.

The three presidents and their advisors have cause to read and reflect on taking EU citizens and ideas like democracy seriously: Emmanuel Macron who invented the democratic conventions, Jean-Claude Juncker who supported the proposal and promised to contribute with the Commission’s experiences from the Citizens’ Dialogues and Donald Tusk who has promised to present a leaders’ agenda [for the Future of Europe] within two weeks.

12 ideas for The Future of Europe

The other happy coincidence on Lowry’s Facebook post came from Richard Medic, who brought to my attention the publication 12 ideas for The Future of Europe - New narrative for Europe communications campaign (June 2017; 64 pages), about getting young people interested in European debates.

Nothing beats ownership for citizens in general, but let us study if the report offers food for thought regarding impact from voters and experts.

Ralf Grahn

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