European Citizens’ Consultations 2007

January 2007 - December 2007
Antoinette Primatarova and Yana Papazova

The European Citizens’ Consultations provided the first-ever opportunity for members of the public from all 27 Member States to debate the future of the European Union across the boundaries of geography and language. Citizens exchanged opinions, developed together their ideas on the future direction of Europe, and communicated their perspectives to policy-makers. Simultaneous and interlinked events across Europe allowed every citizen to make his or her voice heard. The consultations and their follow-up aimed at inspiring both European and national institutions and decision-makers as they prepare to take decisions on the next phase of Europe’s development. The process was organised by an independent consortium of foundations and non-profit organisations from all over Europe and led by the King Baudouin Foundation. It was funded in the framework of the European Commission’s communication strategy “Plan D” and a consortium of 21 foundations including King Baudouin Foundation, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Compagnia di San Paolo, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
The Centre for Liberal Strategies is the partner and coordinator for Bulgaria.
The European Citizens’ Consultations started with a blank slate. During an Agenda-Setting Event - the first stage of the ECC process, which took place in Brussels on October 7th and 8th – 200 participants from all Member States of the European Union were invited to present their opinions on the influence Europe has had on their lives, and what direction they would like to see Europe take in the future. In identifying common ground on the central question of “what Europe do we want?“ they set the agenda for the following national consultations. Of all possible issues including economy, institutions, enlargement and many others, citizens from all Member States set and debated an agenda of three policy issues they considered key to the future of Europe:  The environmental and economic impact of Europe’s energy use; The social conditions for Europe’s families; The EU’s global role and the management of immigration
At the heart of the dialogue are the National Citizens’ Consultations – simultaneous, interlinked debates in all 27 Member States. From February to March 2007, citizens were asked, “what is needed to achieve the Europe we want?“ Five to ten consultations happened at the same time – each in its respective Member State. They exchanged their results and enabled a European dialogue across locations. The outcome was 27 national reports. These served as the basis for a European-level Synthesis Event on the 9th and 10th of May 2007 attended by 27 citizens, one from each Member State. In a first step, they worked on a document synthesising the 27 national results and highlighting the common ground and the areas of divergence between the national outcomes. In a second step, citizens discussed their result with Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström in a European Citizens’ Roundtable. This event kicked off a comprehensive follow-up process, which actively communicates the outcomes to policy-makers and provides feedback to citizens. Citizens from all EU Member States were selected randomly. They came from all walks of life and reflected the diversity of their countries’ population and thereby of the entire European Union. In each of the Member States, an opinion research agency selected the participants following a set of selection criteria including gender, age, and socio-economic background.
The Bulgarian Citizens' Consultation gathered on February 10-11, 2007 65 citizens in Sofia to develop the Bulgarian perspectives on the future of Europe. The citizens participating in the Bulgarian consultation were randomly invited according to criteria of representativeness: different age groups, different educational levels, gender, and other. The event was organised by the Centre for Liberal Strategies in cooperation with Alpha Research.
To open the documents The Bulgarian Citizens’ Perspective on the Future of Europe and The European Citizens’ Perspectives, please click on them.

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