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Moving EuropE Together, one citizens’ agora at a time

Democracy / REPORT
Corina Stratulat , Johannes Greubel

Date: 02/03/2022
EU citizens crave opportunities to exchange views on important national and European policy questions. Inviting them to become a more integral part of EU decision-making can effectively respond to popular demand for more participation and transparency in EU governance and raise people’s awareness and knowledge about complex EU issues.  

Those are some of the preliminary findings of the Moving EuropE Together (MEET) project. The initiative, which the European Policy Centre set up last year with the support of the European Parliament and King Baudouin Foundation, intends to supplement and reinforce the national dimension of the Conference on the Future of Europe and contribute to the Union’s ongoing efforts to include more participatory elements into its policymaking.

Halfway through the project, this Interim Report assesses what has and hasn't worked so far. 

Between September 2021 and January 2022, five different organisations* put together eight so-called Local Citizens’ Agoras (LCAs) in Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Ireland and Romania. People were able to discuss core policy themes from the Conference agenda with each other and with Members of the European Parliament. They came up with concrete recommendations on democracy, the green transition, health policy and foreign policy. The events were carried out on the basis of a standardised model of national deliberations elaborated by the EPC, allowing for comparative analysis.  

As such, these LCAs feed content into the Conference process, beef up its local, regional and national dimensions, and offer lessons and best practices to help the Union upgrade its participatory toolkit for the future. Moreover, people greatly appreciated the presence of MEPs at the agoras because it made them feel like politicians cared about their opinions.    

However, citizens also indicated they would have liked more time for discussions both among themselves and with parliamentarians. They also asked for more expert support in the future to help them better understand both how the EU works and the topics at hand. Finally, a more generous project budget would have likely helped secure more diverse (and even representative) samples of participants, especially in countries that do not have long-standing experience with participatory processes.

Eight more LCAs are planned in the context of the MEET project. The results collected so far will be taken into account when implementing the remaining agoras. Their outcome will further contribute to the Conference and expand the project’s data pool for more conclusive findings for future similar initiatives.

*The Egmont Institute in Belgium, ELIAMEP in Greece, European Movement Ireland in Ireland, the Group of the European Youth for Change (GEYC) in Romania, and WE DO DEMOCRACY in Denmark

Read the full paper here.
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