Saturday

22nd Sep 2018

Brussels in new drive to seduce EU citizens

  • "We must consult citizens,” says commissioner Wallstrom (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission on Wednesday (2 April) presented a new plan aimed at increasing EU citizens' involvement in the decision-making process of the 27-nation bloc, as well as making it more popular.

Dubbed "Debate Europe", the initiative is part of the commission's so-called Plan D – a concept put forward in 2005 to boost the EU's public image after the No votes to the EU constitution in France and the Netherlands.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Presenting an update of the plan, communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom said the context now, three years later, was "very different" from 2005.

"It is not anymore about the failed constitution or the reflection period [that followed]," as now the objective is more to effectively involve the citizens into EU decision-making, she said.

"We must consult citizens [because] when we do, we have a better political agenda and a better political result."

"Debate Europe" will have a budget of €7.2 million which will be used to fund a number of civil society projects.

It will, among other things, establish 'European public spaces', where exhibitions, debates, seminars and training sessions on EU matters will take place and involve EU officials in activities at regional and local levels in the different member states.

The commission will also try and boost its "Debate Europe" website. Launched at the end of January, it has gathered some 12,000 posts by EU citizens so far – something Ms Wallstrom called a "big success".

But in addition to its goal to involve citizens in decision-making, the EU is also still aiming to make itself more popular.

Referring to next year's European Parliament elections, an event regularly marked by low voter turnout, the commission said: "We try to change the perception that EU matters are too abstract and disconnected from the national public debate to be of interest to the citizens, and we want to overcome the divide between national and European issues."

She also underlined that launching the new initiative did not mean that one of Plan D's principal objectives – to make the EU more democratic – would be abandoned.

"It's ironic, isn't it, that 50 years after the foundation of the European Union, we are still discussing democracy and how can we become more democratic," she said.

"A lot more" could indeed be done to improve democracy within the EU, as "decisions have moved up to the European level, but the political debates, the media reporting and so on, are still mainly national," Ms Wallstrom noted.

Opinion

Debate Europe!

The European Commission has decided on the follow-up actions to Plan D. We call these next steps "Debate Europe", because we want trans-national consultation of citizens to become a permanent feature of EU democracy, writes Margot Wallström.

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Europe must have a robust foreign policy and nurture high-tech industries, Slovak EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said in his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president.

Exclusive

Commission took no minutes at Juncker speech seminar

In August, Jean-Claude Juncker and his EU commissioners held a two-day seminar at a chateau outside Brussels to prepare this week's State of the Union speech. The commission implies there is no written record.

EUobserved

Juncker, the 'sad and wiser' man of Europe

Despite bold propositions for the EU's future, one could not help feeling the Commission chief's State of the Union address already sounded like a farewell speech.

Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Europe must have a robust foreign policy and nurture high-tech industries, Slovak EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said in his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us