Data

Specific Topics
Regional & Global Governance
Collections
OECD Project on Representative Deliberative Processes
Location
The Hague
South Holland
Netherlands
Scope of Influence
Multinational
Links
Bertelsmann-Stiftung - A Different Kind of EU Summit: Citizens' Dialogue in The Hague
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Total Number of Participants
120
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Limited to Only Some Groups or Individuals
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
Stratified Random Sample
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Recruit or select participants
Collect, analyse and/or solicit feedback
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Deliberation
Sustained Dialogue
Deliberative Forum
Legality
Yes
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
Opinion Survey
Primary Organizer/Manager
Bertelsmann Stiftung
Type of Organizer/Manager
Non-Governmental Organization
International Organization
Academic Institution
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Formal Evaluation
Yes

CASE

EU Citizens' Dialogue in The Hague

July 27, 2022 Joyce Chen
August 3, 2020 Joyce Chen
July 2, 2020 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
June 27, 2020 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
June 27, 2020 Joyce Chen
Specific Topics
Regional & Global Governance
Collections
OECD Project on Representative Deliberative Processes
Location
The Hague
South Holland
Netherlands
Scope of Influence
Multinational
Links
Bertelsmann-Stiftung - A Different Kind of EU Summit: Citizens' Dialogue in The Hague
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Total Number of Participants
120
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Limited to Only Some Groups or Individuals
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
Stratified Random Sample
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Recruit or select participants
Collect, analyse and/or solicit feedback
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Deliberation
Sustained Dialogue
Deliberative Forum
Legality
Yes
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
Opinion Survey
Primary Organizer/Manager
Bertelsmann Stiftung
Type of Organizer/Manager
Non-Governmental Organization
International Organization
Academic Institution
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Formal Evaluation
Yes

On May 17, 2019, 120 European citizens from France, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany convened at the EU Citizens' Dialogue in the Hague. Using table moderators and simultaneous interpreters, they discussed the topics of Social Europe, Global Europe and Digital Europe.

Problems and Purpose

Between January 2018 and April 2019, the EU Commission initiated around 1,100 EU Citizens’ Dialogues to “improve understanding between the political elite in Brussels and EU citizens at [the] grassroots level.” [1] Notably, the EU Citizens' Dialogue in the Hague—which brought together citizens from France, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany—was the first cross-border EU Citizens’ Dialogue. The EU Citizens' Dialogue in the Hague focused on three themes: Social Europe, Digital Europe, and Global Europe. 


Regarding the Social Europe theme, participants were encouraged to consider ways to “secure good jobs in a rapidly changing labour market”, whether “common social security standards” are needed, and means of “fight[ing] social injustice through more solidarity within Europe.” Next, regarding the Digital Europe theme, participants were prompted to consider ways to “create new and innovative jobs [...], provide workers with the skills needed for the digital age, [...] and use digital innovations for all people.” Finally, regarding the Global Europe theme, citizens asked themselves how Europe could “remain competitive amongst growing powers as China, India or Brazil” and what Europe’s roles and responsibilities on the world stage are. [2]

Background History and Context

Bertelsmann Stiftung, recognizing that the European Union’s legitimacy among its member states requires consistent renewal, collaborated with the EU Commission to initiate three cross-border EU Citizens’ Dialogues in Frankfurt/Oder, Passau, and the Hague. These Dialogues were meant to give everyday citizens an avenue to participate in EU governance; it was the organizers’ hope that these ideologically and demographically diverse participants’ feedback could enhance political dialogue in their respective countries and boost social cohesion across the EU. [3]


Moving forward, Aart De Geus—Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bertelsmann Stiftung—also outlined his hope that these cross-border EU Citizens’ Dialogues would “encourage institutions across the EU to expand this form of conversation in the future,” contribute to “other opinion-forming and decision-making processes,” and ultimately boost the resilience of EU democracy as a whole. [4]

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German civic engagement foundation, collaborated with the EU Commission to initiate the three cross-border EU Citizens’ Dialogues in Frankfurt, Passau, and the Hague. 


No further information could be found regarding organizing, supporting, and funding entities. [5] 

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Participants were recruited for the EU Citizens' Dialogue in the Hague from five EU countries: France, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Specifically, random selection was used to “guarantee [...] a Citizens’ Dialogue with a wide variety of people and opinions from Europe.” At the Dialogue itself, these participants were sorted into 12 small discussion groups balanced for diversity in language, culture, age, academic background, and ideology surrounding the EU. [6]


No further information could be found regarding participant recruitment and selection.

Methods and Tools Used

Most EU Citizens’ Dialogues generally involve pro-EU participants posing questions to EU Commissioners. However, the EU Citizens’ Dialogue in the Hague involved three additional characteristics: participants that were selected at random, a “new interpreting procedure for multilingual discussions at the tables,” and the use of the “World Café” dialogue method. 


More specifically, at the EU Citizens’ Dialogue in the Hague, randomly-selected participants were sorted into 12 discussion groups, each led by a moderator and balanced for diversity in language, culture, age, academic background, and ideology surrounding the EU. Furthermore, these discussion groups communicated simultaneously in 3 languages thanks to trained interpreters present. Finally, after these small tables held discussions regarding the EU and its future—ultimately culminating in recommendations on the future of Europe—participants discussed their recommendations in small groups with EU experts and in a plenary session with Ann Mettler (Director-General of the European Commission’s European Political Strategy Centre). [7]

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

At the EU Citizens’ Dialogue in the Hague, randomly-selected participants were sorted into 12 discussion groups: four focused on “Social Europe,” four on “Digital Europe,” and four on “Global Europe.” Each discussion group was led by a moderator; calibrated for ideological and demographic diversity; and—for the first and third discussion rounds—composed of members of different nationalities. [8]


In the first round of deliberation, participants shared their experiences and ideas regarding their assigned topic. In the second round of deliberation, participants considered their topic in greater detail within national groups. Finally, in the last round of discussion, group members collaborated to draft proposals and questions for EU politicians related to their topic. After each table engaged in discussion with an EU expert—including EU ambassadors and EU Commission figures—all participants convened at a plenary discussion of their proposals with Ann Mettler (Director-General of the European Commission’s European Political Strategy Centre). At the end of the plenary session, all participants were polled using digital voting and question cards. [9]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

A formal evaluation of the EU Citizens’ Dialogue in the Hague revealed insights including: 1) The cross-border, interactive format of the EU Citizens’ Dialogue is successful; 2) Random

selection of participants guarantees a Citizens’ Dialogue with a wide variety of people and opinions from Europe; 3) Translation technology ensures excellent communication and high discussion quality; 4) Deliberative discussions should be properly structured and moderated in order to be productive; 5) Structured dialogues between EU citizens prepare the way for discussions with EU politicians; 6)  Face-to-face dialogue with citizens from a number of EU Member States reinforces identification with Europe; and 7) A direct dialogue with policymakers improves communication, creates a better understanding of European politics, and enhances European democracy at large. [10]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

A follow-up survey to the EU Citizens’ Dialogue in the Hague indicated that 76 percent of respondents’ expectations had been fulfilled by the event. Citizens were particularly appreciative of the Dialogue’s transnational nature, as well as the “exchange of ideas between citizens, the dialogue with

politicians, the choice of topics and the interactive methods” that took place. 


Overall, civilian attitudes toward the EU improved after the Dialogue, with the percentage of citizens self-reportedly dissatisfied by the EU dropping from 19 percent to 7 percent after the Dialogue. Additionally, some participants noted that they better understood the EU’s structure and governing processes after the Dialogue; others reported that they now intended to vote in the upcoming European election. [11]

See Also

EU Citizens' Dialogue in Passau

EU Citizens' Dialogue in Frankfurt/Oder

References

[1] European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “Evaluation of the Cross-Border EU Citizens’ Dialogue.” European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. http://aei.pitt.edu/102563/1/Evaluation_EU-Citizens_Dialogue_TheHague.pdf.

[2] “Transnational participatory Citizens’ Dialogue in The Hague with Ann Mettler, Head of the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), European Commission, Den Haag.” EU Monitor.

https://www.eumonitor.eu/9353000/1/j9vvik7m1c3gyxp/vkyiav2bnnrj?ctx=vg8xdjeo1zoj&tab=2&v=1&n=31&start_tab1=896.

[3] European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “Evaluation of the Cross-Border EU Citizens’ Dialogue.” European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. http://aei.pitt.edu/102563/1/Evaluation_EU-Citizens_Dialogue_TheHague.pdf.

[4] European Commission and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “New ways to increase citizens’

participation in Europe.” European Commission and Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[5] European Commission and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “New ways to increase citizens’

participation in Europe.” European Commission and Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[6] European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “Evaluation of the Cross-Border EU Citizens’ Dialogue.” European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. http://aei.pitt.edu/102563/1/Evaluation_EU-Citizens_Dialogue_TheHague.pdf.

[7] European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “Evaluation of the Cross-Border EU Citizens’ Dialogue.” European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. http://aei.pitt.edu/102563/1/Evaluation_EU-Citizens_Dialogue_TheHague.pdf.

[8] “Transnational participatory Citizens’ Dialogue in The Hague with Ann Mettler, Head of the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), European Commission, Den Haag.” EU Monitor.

https://www.eumonitor.eu/9353000/1/j9vvik7m1c3gyxp/vkyiav2bnnrj?ctx=vg8xdjeo1zoj&tab=2&v=1&n=31&start_tab1=896.

[9] European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “Evaluation of the Cross-Border EU Citizens’ Dialogue.” European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. http://aei.pitt.edu/102563/1/Evaluation_EU-Citizens_Dialogue_TheHague.pdf.

[10] European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “Evaluation of the Cross-Border EU Citizens’ Dialogue.” European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. http://aei.pitt.edu/102563/1/Evaluation_EU-Citizens_Dialogue_TheHague.pdf.

[11] European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. “Evaluation of the Cross-Border EU Citizens’ Dialogue.” European Commission, Zukunft Europas, and Bertelsmann Stiftung. http://aei.pitt.edu/102563/1/Evaluation_EU-Citizens_Dialogue_TheHague.pdf.

External Links

Notes

Data was sourced from OECD (2020), Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/339306da-en.