Citizens Choose an EU Citizens Assembly to Renew EU Democracy

This year the project CARE for the Future of Europe has developed and evaluated an EU appropriate form of deliberative assembly. Over two weekends, groups of citizens in Berlin, Rome, Cluj and Budapest met to discuss how to make Europe a more citizen-led democracy. The project gave citizens space to deliberate on the future of the EU in a structured, informed process, and to decide on a single policy recommendation for a more democratic Europe. The majority of the 123 participants voted to establish an EU Citizens’ Assembly.

The next step is to raise awareness of the citizens’ recommendation. First at an event at the European Parliament on 27th November and then at the conference Citizens Assemblies: Time to Renew European Democracy in Liverpool on 5th December. We will present the findings from the project and citizen recommendations, and we will discuss how best to implement an EU citizens’ assemblies. For event details and to register, please click links.

Members of EA at an EA assembly in Berlin

Our ‘Citizens’ Assembly’ Model

The deliberative approach in the CARE project is innovative for two reasons. It is applied for the first time at EU level using a decentralised, Member State focussed method. Secondly, it combines online citizen participation with representative, offline citizens’ assemblies.

Citizens had the opportunity to understand, discuss, challenge and develop ideas that relate to the common question: how can we increase effective citizen engagement in debates about the future of Europe, and influence EU policy? Citizens learnt about and discussed five options to develop EU citizen engagement – legislative crowdsourcing, referendums, citizens’ assemblies, enhanced consultations and citizen lobbying – and voted for their preferred option. The choice made was to establish an EU Citizens’ Assembly.

What we achieved

The project has shown that there is a real appetite for ‘doing politics differently’. Citizens want to participate in the complex questions facing Europe in a balanced and constructive way. Our innovative approach to citizen participation is an excellent new way of providing spaces for flexible, inter-societal engagement in EU policy-making and treaty conventions. An approach that works in a geographically and culturally diverse polity such as the EU.

The CARE project was a strong collaboration between academic and civil society partners: University of Liverpool, WeMove.EU, European Alternatives Italy, Asociatia Efectul Fluture (de-clic initiative) in Romania, DemNet in Hungary, and the ECI Campaign. Please click CARE for more information about the project or contact james.organ@liverpool.ac.uk.

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