Engaging all People in Shaping Europe's Future - EPSEF Application
1 March 2018 an application has been submitted by Europe's People's Forum, Danish Board of Technology and 41 partner organisations to the Europe for Citizens Programme to fund the following activities:
The preparation phase includes development of a manual to be used by national technical and other partners in the member states, including procedures for online debates, votes, registration of participants and selection of demographically representative consultation groups. Description of online and face 2 face consultation processes. How to register citizens priorities and conclude on the consultations. It will further include a manual to be used by experts and by the DBT and EPF management and coordination efforts.
Agreements on collaboration about the democratic process will be pursued with Circom Regionale and with individual broadcasters in the project member-states working with social and traditional media.
Instructions and coaching of local partners on how to attract millions of Facebook users to approach and enter the project’s online platform through advertisements, filtering and addresses bought through Facebook, if local organisations raise local funds for this.
Online platform is developed including modalities for texts, videos, and electronic priority-setting. The online platform will register demographic data - age, gender, occupation, education and zone of residency for participants.
EPF Network Planning Meeting
More than 50 partner organisations of Europe's People's Forum will discuss and improve a draft manual on methods for future online and face2face consultations of citizens and their engagement in EU policy making. This includes quantitative and qualitative questions, processing of data from national citizens consultations and building of a sustainable effective network and an agreed manual, for future annual or six-monthly thematic consultations. The meeting will last 1½ day, two nights at hotel and travel costs for 54 persons.
The Planning Meeting brings together 2 CSO-representatives from each MS in EU27 to finalise the manual drafted by DBT and EPF, to discuss and plan citizens consultations, how to synthesise inputs and prepare for a sustainable network. Representative face2face meetings will minimize cultural differences and expectedly give broader visions compared to online consultations that in contrast are available for every single citizen in EU27.
The EPF Training Workshop
A full day training of EPF's Partners is conducted with parallel sessions for representatives from national and technical partner organisations respectively. They are taught to engage all parts of the population through social and traditional media, and in other ways as well as in the use of an online platform like DBT's, presentation of content for debate, registration and voting on citizens’ priorities, collection and provision of data to DBT. Online selection of citizens and moderation of representative groups. 54 persons one night.
Partner organisations in each country of EU 27
In each country EPF has a technical partner organisation, which is defined as non-profit, scientifically or professionally based organisations that are neutral on all EU-related issues and against payment and guidance through EPF will organise first the online consultation and later the face-2-face consultation in each country.
Besides the technical partner organisation, the EPF has one or more partner organisations that will be invited to state their opinion about the issues that are discussed first online and later in face-2-face consultations. Organisations with different attitudes and opinions about the issues discussed are encouraged to participate in order to the have viable discussions in every country and at European level. The partner organisations are not paid in this process, but have committed to use all their contact lists to encourage citizens to take part in the online process.
Online debates and consultations in 27 countries:
All 27 member-states have a web portal with local language interface including a neutral and easy to read description of challenges for Europe, questions about priority of future challenges and improvements for the EU. List of considerations and differences across the different member states and voting on challenges and ways of improvement. Emphasis will be given to the European dimension of challenges, even if the priority takes place in national fora.
Participation in the online debate will be encouraged by the national partners through their networks and by attracting people directly from Facebook. The citizens register their demographic data – sex, age, education, employment and living zone (rural/urban) so the responses can be given weight according to the country’s demographic data.
The priorities from the online debate are further discussed in a day-long national consultation in each of the 27 countries with a group of 25 citizens selected from the online participants to be demographically representative.
After having listened to the national partner organisations and their visions for how to implement the prioritised improvements of the EU the citizens continue alone to discuss and exchange information until the neutral facilitator submit their visions through the online platform to EPF.
European synthesising of 27 national outcomes:
Objectively hired experts analyse the quantitative online and qualitative face-2-face inputs from all member-states. Based on these inputs the experts develop 5 detailed innovative policy proposals for the prioritised improvements of EU’s future.
A Research Validation Panel
A Research Validation Panel with representatives from European and national think tanks reads the outlined policy proposals prepared on basis of citizens' inputs and drafted by short-term experts. The Panel advises, whether the citizens’ inputs have been correctly reflected and the analyses solidly carried out.
Innovative Thematic Europe's People's Forum
An innovative Thematic Europe’s People’s Forum in Portugal brings together 2 citizens representatives from each MS. Assisted by neutral experts’ examples of draft policy proposals and national citizens inputs are finally finalised and prioritised as policy proposals for EU's future. Likely issues are proposals within e.g. the Social Pillar, free movement of citizens, responsibility for refugees and migrants, innovation, security, democracy and the structural funds and Solidarity in crises. In the future this should however be decided by the citizens through comprehensive online processes.
The final proposals will in future European consultations be brought to an online vote among all EU citizens. By combining the Forum's equal country representation, it is ensured that all prioritised proposals will reflect the EU diversity, albeit the largest populations will have most potential votes when the choice is made for which policy proposal(s) to present to Summits, EC and EP.
The methodology of this project is quite ambitious in scope and should be considered a pilot with the intention of multiplying the process in the years to come. Experiences will be collected and the methodology further developed and improved in collaboration with the national partners after the end of this project.
EPF has more than 70 national partners and 3 European umbrella organisations. The roles of the CSOs have been defined as either national partner or as national technical partner organisation being neutral, professional facilitators.
The project is carefully designed to strengthen its impact through a broad knowledge and visibility of the democratic process and through the highest possible influence from the agreed policy proposals. The outcome of the project will be prepared before and provided to inform the December EU-Summit 2018.
Some of EPF’s local partners have suggested additional events to engage citizens and others to buy and produce advertisements, addresses and filters from Facebook to help bring millions of Facebook users into the EPF online platform. Further, the project hopes to collaborate with Circom Regionale (European regional public service broadcasters) about engaging their broadcasters across the 27 member-states to work with television and social media as a way of democratic engagement.
It is estimated that between 27.000 and 300.000 citizens will participate in this process through the online debate and voting and in other discussions. With additional activities many more can be reached and after 2-3 years of two annual processes the aim is to have 30 million people engaged.
It is a key that the final, prioritised policy proposals are presented to and considered by high level, relevant committees in the European Parliament and to relevant parts of the European Commission. Europe’s People’s Forum has requested this form the European Commission.
In response to EPF’s letter to President Jean-Claude Juncker, it has been confirmed 16.6.2017, that “The Commission very much looks forward to learning about the results of the very promising process you are establishing and will give all due attention to the forthcoming ideas, concepts, and proposals... It is very encouraging to see that there are such strong efforts to create more opportunities for citizens to express themselves on future EU policy and to ensure that their views are brought to the attention of the European institutions.”
The EPF further intends to ensure a serious consideration from the political parties in the European Parliament based on the project’s political balance and neutrality.
11 04 2018 – Bent Nørby Bonde.