The citizens' contribution to European public policy design

The European Union needs to design legitimate and sound Public Policies

The European Union faces major and complex issues, that require a collective and co-operative answer, beyond the spontaneous adaptation of markets and beyond the scale manageable by each individual Member State. It thus needs to design and implement Europe-wide public policies to address them. In order for these public policies to be effective, they need to meet 2 criteria:

  • they need to be technically sound, in order to indeed achieve the goal they intend to reach

  • they must be politically legitimate, i.e. earnestly consider the points of view and interests of the stakeholders, in order to be acceptable and actually implemented in a political space characterised by a democratic order.

The European professionals are a source of collective knowledge

On the other hand, the European professionals, in private firms, trade unions, public service, academia and NGOs, have developed in their everyday practice a direct and first-hand knowledge of their field, and master an in-depth theoretical understanding of it that leverages their higher education background. They collectively represent a vast and untapped source of knowledge, experience and informed opinion, that rarely is mobilised in the design of public policies.

The European Citizens' Seminars answer this challenge and leverage this opportunity

Each European Citizens' Seminar gathers ca. 20 such professionals from diverse geographical, cultural and social origins, during 3.5 days over a week-end, around a concrete issue, that requires an Europe-wide answer (see the list of past and planned Seminars to have examples of such issues). The purpose of each Seminar is to collectively design, in an active consensus, a set of justified Public Policy Proposals addressing the issue at hand and contributing to the European common good. The participants act as responsible citizens, intuitu personae (i.e. not as representatives of their organisation), in full freedom and confidentiality, in a position of mutual respect, undersanding and co-operation. By mobilising this latent knowledge and by working in a co-operative way, the group being assembled in each European Citizens' Seminar reaches unprecedented levels of collective intelligence and mutual learning.

The Public Policy Proposals resulting from the Seminars are publicly disseminated to the European institutions (Commission and Parliament) and to the Europe-wide press. They are published in our series "The Erfurt Meetings".

The European Citizens' Seminars thus aim to be "the citizens' contribution to European public policy design". They enrich the European Public Sphere with Public Policy Proposals that meet the requirements described above of technical relevance (by mobilising this collective intelligence of European professionals), and of political legitimacy (by being the result of a discussion and consensus-building process taking into account the points of view, the experience and the interests of very diverse people).