Professor : Alberto Alemanno
Academic Assistant: Thibault Besnier
In the aftermath of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the role citizens play in EU decision-making is at the forefront of political conversation and, potentially, institutional reform with the establishment of a permanent citizens’ deliberative mechanism in the making. This workshop intends to contextualize these efforts by providing you with a strategic, hands-on understanding of the various channels of participation (and influence) that the EU offers to citizens, at a times of democratic erosion and shrinking space of civil society. Despite the recurrent claims of democratic deficit and opaqueness, the EU offers a panoply of avenues of participation that while little known, and historically underused, are increasingly mobilised by a variety of actors. These avenues are open to citizens, grassroots, NGOs – that typically rely on both public and philanthropic funding – as well as by private actors in order to gain a voice in EU policy-making.
The ‘EU participatory tool-box’ includes agenda-setting tools, such as the European Citizens’ Initiative and Fit for Future Platform, input mechanisms in policy formation, such as public consultations on new initiatives, administrative actions, such as petitions to the European Parliament, requests for access to documents to the EU institutions and complaints to the EU Ombudsman, as well as judicial devices, such as amicus curiae brief to influence a pending case before EU Courts. Through a combination of fish-bowls, brain-storming, group exercise and presentations, we will contextualise participatory democracy into the current EU model of democracy and discuss a set of case studies of some major pan-EU campaigns and actions driven by citizens (e.g. Voters without Borders, Transnational lists, Stop Glyphosate, STOP TTIP, Barrosogate, etc.). By acting under the guidance of the instructor, participants will gain a first-hand experience of these participatory mechanisms into the EU public sphere.