The European Union is entering a sort of constitutional process. The Conference on the Future of Europe will be a two-year time span devoted to reflect what the EU should be like in many issues, and aiming at institutionalizing this reflection in the form of formal agreements, maybe a new treaty, maybe even a/the constitution.
There is —amongst many others— a big fear driving the conference: the huge disconnection between European institutions and citizens’ daily lives, that increasingly leads citizens to take shortcuts in the forms of populism. A populism that increasingly turns to be sheer fascism. This fear, though, can be turned into an opportunity to engage citizens more and better in public decision-making at the European level. This is the take of the European Committee of the Regions, that believes that European institutions may reconnect with their citizens by reestablishing the transmission chain between them by means of municipalities and regional governments.
This summer, the European Committee of the Regions commissioned my colleague Mireia Borrell, Secretary for External Action and the European Union of the Government of Catalonia, to be the rapporteur of an upcoming opinion on Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens. I was appointed to support her as the technical “expert” to draft the opinion.
On 9 December 2019 we presented a working document/factsheet at the 26th CIVEX commission meeting.
The document is structured as a set of strategic questions that can lead a debate on the problems causing the disconnect between political institutions and citizens, and how a structural ecosystem of citizen participation could bridge this growing chasm between representatives and people. Questions — and tentative proposals for each sub-set of questions — are grouped in the following topics:
- Bridging the gap between what leaders see vs. what citizens see
- Lack of identification of EU issues with daily-life issues
- An ecosystem of infrastructures of participation
- Engaged citizens in a technopolitical paradigm
- Transforming the administration(s)
The document is publicly available and can be downloaded below. First, in its original language (English), then in the different official languages of the European Committee of the Regions.
Full text downloads:
Peña-López, I. (2019). Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens. Working Document. Brussels: European Committee of the Regions.