Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

Opinion

A 'citizen scenario' for the future of Europe

  • Latest Eurobarometer survey shows 52 percent believe their voice does not count in the EU. (Photo: Lorie Shaull)

At the beginning of this year's state of the union address, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, spoke of a "window of opportunity … to build a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe for 2025."

Revisiting the debate he started in March with the "Five scenarios for Europe by 2025", he set out his own "scenario six" for the future of Europe, combining elements of each of the original scenarios.

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.

... our join as a group

  • President Juncker delivered his state of the union speech on 13 September. (Photo: European Commission)

Setting out a vision of freedom, equality and rule of law, president Juncker had positive words for the harmony, stability and democracy that would be welcome to a renewal of the European project, but missed out the key ingredient that is essential to the EU's legitimacy and sustainability - its citizens.

In fact, citizens have been missing from the future of Europe debate from the very beginning, despite the aim of the debate to "advance our project in the interests of our citizens".

Yet, digital technologies and platforms present a unique opportunity to transform the relationship between governors and the governed into more of a partnership and to build mechanisms of participatory democracy. For Europe, this means that the EU can become a collaborative project in which everyone has a voice.

Digital democracy has great potential to enhance the existing participatory mechanisms by drawing on the "wisdom of the crowd", tapping into hidden expertise and engaging those groups who participate least in democratic society - most notably young people.

Existing methods of e-participation in Europe - the European Citizens' Initiative, online public consultations and petitions to the European Parliament - are insufficient and must be improved.

In addition, the EU needs to learn from the plethora of e-participation and crowdsourcing methods being developed and implemented around the world.

If Paris can crowdsource part of its budget, Finland can implement successful citizens' initiatives and Latvia can regularly consult its citizens through a platform of Open Government, then why can't the EU?

Furthermore, the EU needs to build on the strong words president Juncker had for the significance of the rule of law in the EU.

The rights that are conferred onto EU citizens by their EU citizenship need to be effectively enforced and properly implemented.

Free movement of people is supported by 81 percent of EU citizens, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey, yet free movement rights are either being challenged or inadequately implemented across the EU.

President Juncker hinted at the need for a stronger connection between the policies, decisions and strategies that are formulated at EU level and the ideas, concerns and interests of EU citizens.

But undefined "democratic conventions" and transnational MEP lists in European elections, for which he expressed "support" and "sympathy" respectively are not enough.

The change in language is welcome, but the substance is not yet there.

Likewise, strong words on the rule of law need to be backed up by actions that guarantee EU citizens the rights they are entitled to by law.

As the latest Eurobarometer survey shows, trust in the EU stands at only 42 percent, 58 percent of Europeans have a negative view of it and 52 percent believe their voice does not count in the EU.

For these reasons, the future of Europe debate needs a 'citizen scenario' - a vision of a future in which the EU is truly a Union of its citizens.

European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) is an NGO empowering citizens and civil society within the European Union to exercise their rights and promoting open and inclusive decision-making.

Juncker calls for united EU under one leader

The Commission president wants his position to be merged with the presidency of the European Council, and for all EU states to be in the eurozone and Schengen by 2019, post-Brexit.

Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?

After a thorough analysis in cooperation with EU countries we have identified many regulatory restrictions that hamper innovation and investment in the retail sector.

EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too

Non-citizens from Nigeria to Afghanistan get a binding 'vote' on whatever the EU's internal debates submit to them. They will vote with their feet on whether to keep trying their luck when faced with a new system.

Long-distance animal transport: unthinkable still happening

A complete overhaul of animal products' supply chains is needed, privileging local food chains including local slaughtering which is proven to benefit the environment, the resilience of our economy, food safety and animal welfare.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  2. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  3. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform
  4. Merkel to meet Conte to find migration compromise
  5. Seehofer gives Merkel time to strike EU migration deal
  6. Schroeder and Sarkozy appear with Putin at World Cup
  7. Tennis champ and 'EU diplomat' claims immunity
  8. Italy threatens to ditch EU-Canada free trade deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Orban to EPP: turn 'Christian democratic' or face challenge
  2. Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?
  3. Tear gas bodes ill for Macedonia name deal
  4. EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most
  5. EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too
  6. Basque threat of 'second front' for independence
  7. Progressive regulation needed now for 21st century finance
  8. Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us