EU Commission recommends citizens' assemblies

14. December 2023
European Commission

On 12 December 2023, the European Commission published recommendations to promote citizen participation in the member states of the European Union (EU). The Commission also makes proposals for randomly selected citizens' assemblies.

Citizens should be involved in political decision-making processes at local, regional, national, European and international level, the EU Commission says. "The inclusive and effective involvement of citizens, civil society organisations and human rights defenders in political decision-making processes should be actively promoted by public authorities," the paper states.

Inclusive participation

The EU Commission emphasises that participation in policy-making should be inclusive and reflect the demographic composition and diversity of the population as well as the needs of underrepresented groups or people with disabilities in the best possible way. To this end, EU member states should "use the best available statistical sampling methods with random selection".

The Commission favours "innovative forms of participation with the direct involvement of citizens". Online and offline consultation and co-design processes are promising ways of promoting existing governance mechanisms and developing new ones. These processes "help to mobilise citizens around complex policy issues such as climate change and decisions on infrastructure investment", the recommendation states.

Adequate funding and competences

EU member states should ensure that public administrations have adequate funding and competences to organise such initiatives. Member States could draw on expertise and best practices at Union level, in particular the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The European Commission explains that it is currently implementing a new phase of citizen participation to support the active involvement of citizens and as a follow-up to the conference, in which its standards and instruments are being expanded. "This includes the European Citizens' Panels, which bring together randomly selected citizens from all member states to discuss important upcoming proposals and are now an integral part of democratic life in the Union."

Competence Centre for Participatory and Deliberative Democracy

In order to support the EU member states in implementing the EU Commission's recommendations, the Commission has set up a Competence Centre for Participatory and Deliberative Democracy. The centre brings together experts and researchers from across the EU, both online and offline, to conduct joint research into best practices and innovations.

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