Citizens’ Assemblies: Time to Renew European Democracy
The EU urgently needs new democratic tools to reduce the distance felt by EU citizens from EU institutions and to challenge the rise of populism. To achieve this, the Europe for Citizens funded project CARE for the Future of Europe has developed and evaluated an EU appropriate form of citizens’ assembly. The project concludes with an event at the European Parliament on 27th November, co-organised by The ECI Campaign, and the conference Citizens Assemblies: Time to Renew European Democracy in Liverpool on 5th December. Project findings and citizens’ recommendations will be discussed, including how to best use citizens’ assemblies in EU democracy. You can register now by following the links!
Citizens at the centre of the Future of Europe
Over two weekends, groups of citizens in Berlin, Rome, Cluj and Budapest met to discuss how they can make Europe a more citizen-led democracy. Citizens were given space to deliberate on the democratic future of the EU in a structured, informed process, and developed policy recommendations for a more democratic Europe. In the geographically dispersed offline meetings and in online debates 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?
The Citizens’ Assembly project was a strong collaboration between academic and civil society partners: University of Liverpool, WeMove.EU, European Alternatives in Italy, Asociatia Efectul Fluture (de-clic initiative) in Romania, and DemNet in Hungary.
CARE’s Citizens’ Assembly Model
The citizens’ assembly is a deliberative democratic instrument that allows regular citizens, rather than special interest groups or experts, to participate in the agenda-setting process in a structured and informed way. In a citizens’ assembly a representative group of citizens learn about, deliberate upon, and make recommendations in relation to a particular issue or set of issues.
CARE’s approach to the citizens’ assembly model is innovative for two reasons: it is applied for the first time at EU level using a decentralised method, and it combines online citizen participation with the offline citizens’ assembly approach.
What was achieved
Citizens’ assemblies have been an effective model for public engagement in places such as Canada, Ireland and the UK. The CARE project has provided practical and research-based evidence of how to use a decentralised citizens’ assembly in the EU.
The project has shown that there is a real appetite for ‘doing politics differently’, and that citizens want to participate in the complex questions facing Europe in a balanced and constructive way. Our innovative approach is an excellent new way of providing spaces for flexible, inter-societal engagement in EU policy-making and treaty conventions, in a geographically and culturally diverse polity such as the EU.