Methods of participating in the deliberative process in the EU for young people: the role of national level education in EU literacy

Sep 16th 2021

1. Better promotion of the participation tools though media and education systems
All of the tools of citizens’ participation in the EU decision making process are not recognizable or well known by Polish citizens. They are not promoted enough in the media, and when it comes to the Polish education system, they are not present in the educational programme. Nowadays, the information about the engagement opportunities reaches mostly people who are already interested in the EU and are using such participation tools. Some measures, which would allow to reach a representative group of people outside this “European bubble” should be undertaken. The EU institutions should diversify the messaging promoting the participation tools, which would allow to highlight the specific characteristics of each tool. Different kinds of media should be used – to reach youth, focus should be put on social media, when it comes to seniors – traditional media. The current communication strategy is not effective.
2. Increasing the level of the transparency of the actions taken by the EU after receiving the citizens’ opinions / recommendations / proposals
Citizens take part in the decision-making process in order to have some influence, to be sure their voice is heard, that their proposals were taken under consideration. Therefore, an important part of every participation tool should be the follow-up mechanism, so the citizens can receive feedback on actions taken in connection with their engagement. Moreover, it is not only about the people who are participating in the direct way – e.g. through signing a petition or a European Citizens’ Initiative. Wider public should also be convinced that their opinion can make a real difference. Otherwise they won’t be willing to participate, as in their opinion their voice might be ignored by the decision-makers. In order to avoid such a situation, a system should be introduced which would show how citizens’ petitions or opinions formulated within the Conference on the Future of Europe are proceeded and how they have influenced the final decision – or why they were rejected. In addition, while promoting different participation tools, examples of the citizens’ ideas which entered into force should be presented. This may be helpful to convince the public to engage in the decision-making process. The participants of the event have also proposed that the sum-up of every Citizens’ Dialogue should be available online, at least in English.
3. Increasing the level of the EU participation tools’ inclusiveness
Participation tools might seem complicated to average citizens who were earlier not interested in the EU affairs. Majority of the tools are based on the citizens’ initiative – they have to obtain knowledge about the EU’s fields of action and know the participation tools work – as mentioned above, this knowledge is not common. Participants indicated that it might be a good idea to create a mobile app, through which the citizens would have the chance to support (or not) a concrete proposition or a statement. This approach would require more action, more engagement from the EU institutions (substantive, financial, etc.). The EU institutions should not only encourage citizens to participate, but also make this process as simple as possible. For example, the European Commission could inform the authors of the European Citizens’ Initiatives about effective ways of collecting signatures introduced previously. The participants have also proposed to reduce the minimum number of signatures and countries required to introduce an European Citizens Initiative. Further, the Citizens’ Dialogues seem for the participants to be a tool with a big potential of being inclusive, but they are not organised regularly, there are not so many of them and happen more frequently in some of the EU member states than others. There should be a calendar of regular meetings within the Citizens’ Dialogues framework.

Organised by CTOE