The European Local Coalition – Policy Proposals
#TheFutureIsYours

The European Local Coalition is a structured communication action in response to the European Parliament’s Call for Proposals as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). With a deliberative democracy approach, this project aims to bridge the gap between citizens and European civil societies at the local level and their representatives at the European Parliament.  

From March to June 2022 a series of online events were held that sparked discussions on some of the major challenges the EU is currently facing. On the online platform that we built with Civocracy, participants started discussions on three themes: ecological transition, democratic process and digital transformation. The participants on the digital platform as well as representatives from civil society organisations and Members of the European Parliament worked together to form 15 policy proposals on these themes, with the aim to present this to the European Parliament. Please see our policy proposals below.

#TheFutureIsYours

Democratic Process

  1. In order to encourage people to participate more in and co-create European policy-making, the EU should create a real European public sphere that citizens can identify with and that is more accessible. (EuropaNova Germany e.V., Adrien Licha, ALDA, Civocracy platform)
  1. Education around the EU should be increased and citizens should be empowered. The average EU citizen is not adequately aware of their rights, responsibilities and tools at their disposal. The EU should therefore connect the local level to the European level by meeting citizens where they are, e.g. in classrooms, on social media, in neighbourhoods and places of work. Educational communication should target especially young and marginalised people to make the European idea more tangible and increase civic participation. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Carlotta During, European Academy Berlin)
  1. Trust between citizens and politicians needs to be restored. To that end, the EU should increase transparency in all its processes. Citizens should get involved regularly through public consultations, upon which the EU should implement a supervisory body and provide semi-personalised feedback, as well as a clear timetable. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Ophélie Omnes, OMNES)
  1. The EU should set up a Convention to revise the Treaties. This should entail abolishing the European Council in its current form and developing a functioning second chamber, having a government that is directly elected by parliament, abolishing the veto powers and switching from unanimity to qualified majority voting. The veto power makes the EU dysfunctional and tilts the power balance towards national governments. (EuropaNova Germany e.V., Damian Boeselager MEP, Volt, Civocracy platform)
  1. EU citizens should understand how European elections work and know that their votes have an impact and are historically relevant. In order to strengthen the link between citizens and EU representatives and increase the sense of belonging, the EU should improve electoral conditions, i.e. lowering voting age to 16, communicating clearly about elections dates and moving towards transnational lists. (EuropaNova Germany e.V., Ophélie Omnes, Damian Boeselager, Civocracy platform)

Ecological Transition

  1. As part of the ecological transition, the EU needs to strengthen multilevel channels and processes. To that end, the EU should cooperate with mediators and bridge-builders, such as NGOs and civil society organisations, as well as regional and local governments. Involving each of these organisations in the process would provide different perspectives and connections to communities, who may be affected by specific policies. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Carlotta During)
  1. Local elected representatives benefit from the highest level of trust by citizens, so the EU should capitalise on this and empower local governments and municipalities and support initiatives, e.g. in ecological urban planning. This demonstrates to citizens that there is a possibility of tangible change, that invested time and energy has an impact on the ground. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Adrien Licha)
  1. The EU should encourage citizens to organise local actions, in order to increase awareness and education around the ecological transition. (EuropaNova Germany e.V., Civocracy platform)
  1. The effects of the climate crisis are not uniform. Marginalised communities are disproportionately affected, as they already possess weaker adaptive capabilities. Any EU policy should address the inequalities among different communities and take into account economic, racial, regional and generational disparities. (EuropaNova Germany e.V.)
  1. The EU should rebrand the Green Deal and harmonise the twin transition by investing in technologies that can contribute to speeding up the green transition. (EuropaNova Germany e.V., Civocracy platform)

Digital Transformation 

  1. Most of the communication about the EU in general, and citizen participation specifically, has occurred in the English language. This excludes those citizens, who don’t speak English at a complex bureaucratic and administrative level. The digital transformation should therefore take into account other languages, so as to be more inclusive. (EuropaNova Germany e.V.)
  1. The last two years have completely shifted the way many of us work, i.e. we have moved from an external office to working from home. This has had a detrimental effect on mental health. The EU has a responsibility to assess the impact of the digital transformation on mental health and to protect citizens from the adverse effects of digitalisation. (EuropaNova Germany e.V.)
  1. The EU urgently needs to adopt a strong stance – a European way –  in favour of technology, digitalisation and the huge potential for innovation. It should devise a clear European technology strategy that strengthens our sense of community and shared values. The EU should protect its sovereignty, allowing for competition and mitigating risks, such as monopolistic tendencies by big platforms. (EuropaNova Germany e.V., Damian Boeselager, Ophélie Omnes)
  1. Data management and protection is a vital issue. The EU should better explain and improve communication about data usage, management and protection. Transparency and guidance should be improved by using simpler language and the effort by public authorities to provide citizens with their rights should be increased. (EuropaNova Germany e.V.)
  1. We have found that citizens are less likely to get involved or identify with the work of the EU, because the mechanisms are convoluted and difficult for laypeople to understand. Digital tools can be used to bring EU institutions closer to European citizens. To that end, digital platforms – like the CoFoE platform and EuropaNova Germany’s platform – should be improved and promoted more widely. Digital tools, however, should not replace in-person political discussions. (EuropaNova Germany e.V.)

Feedback on the CoFoE

  1. Regularity: Rather than holding the CoFoE in regular intervals, the existing links between citizens and the European Parliament should be strengthened. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Ophélie Omnes)
  1. Length: These types of citizen exercises need more time – one year is not enough. This would give more time for citizen deliberation and for other organisations to participate by creating their own projects. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Carlotta During)
  1. Accountability: The EU needs to demonstrate accountability towards citizens. The CoFoE therefore requires a feedback loop mechanism to inform citizens about decision-making. This would make citizen participation more meaningful. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Damian Boeselager)
  1. Advertisement: The CoFoE lacked adequate advertising. It requires better branding, a clearer and better articulated process and more national attention. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Damian Boeselager)
  1. Online platform: The use of online platforms requires a certain level of knowledge. The EU should improve accessibility, to increase citizen engagement. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Ophélie Omnes)

6. Education: Education around the EU needs to be improved and clearer methodologies for citizen engagement need to be developed. Local and national governments and other stakeholders should be involved in improving education. (EuropaNova Germany e.V. and Adrien Licha)