The concluding conference on Plan D Projects – quite an informal meeting in the Charlemagne building
December 10, 2007
The event organised by the European Commission to wrap up the plan D projects was finally not so formal and official an affair as might have been thought from the programme. This was due to Pat Cox as a quite brilliant moderator drawing out people’s comments and really pushing the very institutional panel to make commitments as to how they would follow-up the “shopping list” of demands coming from the citizens projects.He made it look easy but it in fact takes a lot of skill, which former MEPs should have, to be a bridge between the citizens and representatives of the Institutions.
It was also good to see that most of those who participated in the debate were individual citizens and not usual suspects.
Two things struck me and which could easily be corrected in the future: citizens in all these projects engage positively and tend to come out with requests to the EU to do more than it does, for example in the social field and to present agendas which would greatly increase EU resources and relevance to everyday life. This is a result of the process of participation but can easily be dismissed as in some way manipulated – which it was not. To avoid such interpretations, it would be better to organise such events in a less official setting than the Commission’s press room. After all far fewer press followed this last event than came to the European Citizens Consultations agenda setting event last October 2006 at the Heysel conference centre.
These projects must be and seen to be independent of the EU Institutions. Citizens care about their conclusions and want to see them followed up. Some are coming to every conceivable follow-up event and are questioning the Institutions about what happens next. They therefore did not like the way the results of their consultation or deliberative poll were mixed with others in a sort of consolidated list of the 6 projects.
Finally, something interesting happened at the last session. In the European Citizens’ Consultations – the Plan D project that we have been involved with – education was high on the agenda but not in the top three priority points. It was revealing that this subject – a difficult one for the EU where its competence is very limited -was picked up by the representatives of the Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies as somehow the subject for the future on which European citizenship can be built.Author : ecas