Data

General Issues
Governance & Political Institutions
Specific Topics
Citizenship & Role of Citizens
Collections
Transnational Citizens' Assemblies
Location
Frankfurt an der Oder
Brandenburg
Germany
Scope of Influence
Multinational
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Approach
Citizenship building
Spectrum of Public Participation
Consult
Total Number of Participants
206
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
Propose and/or develop policies, ideas, and recommendations
Collect, analyse and/or solicit feedback
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Express Opinions/Preferences Only
Ask & Answer Questions
Information & Learning Resources
Written Briefing Materials
Expert Presentations
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Traditional Media
Public Report
Primary Organizer/Manager
European Commission
Type of Organizer/Manager
International Organization
Funder
EU Commission, Bertelsmann Stiftung
Type of Funder
International Organization
Staff
Yes
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Formal Evaluation
Yes
Evaluation Report Documents
Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf

CASE

EU Citizens’ Dialogue on 24 May 2018 in Frankfurt/Oder

September 25, 2022 Joyce Chen
September 24, 2022 jennahong
General Issues
Governance & Political Institutions
Specific Topics
Citizenship & Role of Citizens
Collections
Transnational Citizens' Assemblies
Location
Frankfurt an der Oder
Brandenburg
Germany
Scope of Influence
Multinational
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Approach
Citizenship building
Spectrum of Public Participation
Consult
Total Number of Participants
206
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
Propose and/or develop policies, ideas, and recommendations
Collect, analyse and/or solicit feedback
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Express Opinions/Preferences Only
Ask & Answer Questions
Information & Learning Resources
Written Briefing Materials
Expert Presentations
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Traditional Media
Public Report
Primary Organizer/Manager
European Commission
Type of Organizer/Manager
International Organization
Funder
EU Commission, Bertelsmann Stiftung
Type of Funder
International Organization
Staff
Yes
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Formal Evaluation
Yes
Evaluation Report Documents
Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf

The EU Citizens’ Dialogue in Frankfurt/Oder was one of three interactive cross-border Citizens’ Dialogues designed to increase citizen engagement with the EU. The dialogue was conducted with German and Polish citizens as well as various EU, regional, and local politicians. [1]

Problems and Purpose

Euroscepticism is on the rise, with many EU citizens viewing the union as distant and undemocratic. With elections taking place only once every five years and few to no other ways for citizens to have a direct voice, most citizens feel that the EU is unrepresentative of their beliefs and interests. The EU Citizens’ Dialogue project is one way to combat this. The Dialogue in Frankfurt/Oder was organized around the topic, “Democracy lives by participation.” Within this topic, participants discussed the following questions: What holds Europe together? What direction should European Union development take? In what areas should the EU be more/less proactive? How can and would I like to participate? [2]


Background History and Context

In an effort to increase citizen participation in the EU, the EU Commission held over 1,100 EU Citizens’ Dialogues between January 2018 and April 2019. Most of these dialogues were structured as plenary sessions, but the interactive cross-border dialogues deviated from this structure to test out innovative ways to increase transnational citizen participation. These dialogues randomly selected citizens from multiple EU countries, were more interactive, and used special interpreting techniques to aid multilingual communication [3].


Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The dialogue was organized jointly by the EU Commission and Bertelsmann Stiftung. At the time of writing, no further information could be found [4].


Participant Recruitment and Selection

The Frankfurt Dialogue recruited 206 citizens from Poland and Germany, including 33 Polish students and 33 German students. These citizens were chosen randomly in order to ensure a diverse range of demographics and perspectives on the EU. In Germany, citizens were chosen using the official Civil Register, and then invited by telephone or letter. There were also quotas to guarantee representation of certain groups. For example, to guarantee gender parity, the randomly selected women were only considered for participation once half the places had been filled by men [5].

In order to facilitate direct interaction between citizens and politicians, a number of politicians also participated. These were: Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Comission; EU Commissioners for Migration, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights; Elżbieta Polak, Marshal of Lubusz Voivodeship in Poland; and Stefan Ludwig, Justice Minister and Minister for Consumer Protection and European Affairs of the Federal State of Brandenburg [6].


Methods and Tools Used

Methods

The dialogue was formatted as an interactive World Café in order to foster equal and intensive participation amongst citizens. The discussion between citizens focussed on the exchange of experiences, information, and ideas, followed by reflection and consolidation, and then prioritized those ideas into concrete proposals and questions for the politicians. This ensured that when the citizens and politicians met in plenary, the citizens brought forward only those ideas that were relevant to all participants [7].


Tools

The tools used were [8]:

  • Workshop with students to formulate topics before meeting with politicians
  • Small groups of not more than 10 citizens, mixed Polish and German citizens, to increase engagement and participation
  • Professional moderators and table rules to ensure the discussions were conducted fairly
  • Information materials and experts to lay a factual basis for the discussions
  • Translation tools and language apps on smartphones and tablet computers
  • Q&A
  • Opinion poll among the entire citizens’ group via Sli.do (digital voting) and green/red voting cards


What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

Workshop with German and Polish students to prepare for the EU Citizens’ Dialogue [9]

  • Arrival and registration of students; lots drawn to assign topics to participants; welcome and introduction
  • Discussion participants introduced to each other; language technology tested
  • First round of table discussions with students only on the three topics in mixed German-Polish groups. Discussed:
  • What holds us together in Europe?
  • In what direction should the European Union develop? In which areas do we need more, or less, Europe?
  • How can and would I like to participate?
  • Second round of table discussions on one topic in mixed groups. Each topic was discussed by three tables. Discussed proposals and questions, and prioritized ideas surrounding:
  • Which topic is particularly important for us at this table?
  • Which topic can we agree on?
  • How should the EU promote the topic?
  • What implementation proposals do we have? What question do we want to ask the politicians?
  • Plenary discussion among students:
  • Presentation of proposals in plenum
  • Prioritization of proposals by awarding points: Which questions do we want to discuss with politicians in the Citizens’ Dialogue?


EU Citizens’ Dialogue with Polish and German citizens, students, and politicians [10]

  • Arrival and registration of citizens. Informarket, where students present their results on pinboards
  • Plenum. Presentation of results and plenary discussion with politicians
  • Presentation of two ideas for each of the students’ three topics: cohesion in Europe, further development of the EU and citizen participation possibilities
  • Politicians’ responses and discussion, statements and questions of individual citizens
  • Opinion poll among the entire citizens’ group


Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

In a feedback poll after the dialogue, participants reported that they felt they better understood EU politics and its decision-making structures. They also felt they identified more strongly with the EU as a result of cross-cultural interaction and were more satisfied with it and its politicians. Some said that they had previously decided not to vote in the 2019 European Election but changed their minds after the dialogue [11].


Analysis and Lessons Learned

The dialogue was a successful adaptation of the classic plenary dialogue. The diversity of participants and their viewpoints enriched the discussion; the interactive approach with professional moderators and supplemented by factual information and expert input facilitated fair and reasonable conversation; and the opportunity for citizen-politician interaction on an equal footing demonstrated politicians’ recognition of their citizens. The transnational nature of the dialogue was particularly crucial for helping build a European, as opposed to national, identity [12].


While the multilingual, cross-national, and interactive aspects of the dialogue were very successful, they were logistically difficult to execute. The multilingual dialogues required professional moderators, special interpreting procedures, and a clear structure for the discussions. All of this also incurs additional costs, and the funding requirements were comparable to those of international conferences [13].


See Also

References

[1] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[2] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[3] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[4] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[5] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[6] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[7] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[8] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[9] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[10] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[11] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[12] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.

[13] Bertelsmann Stiftung. "New ways to increase citizens’ participation in Europe." Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://conference-observatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ZD_Increasing_EU_citizens__participation.pdf.


External Links

Notes