Citizens' forum about Europe

2009

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What do citizens wish for the future of Europe?

Just before the election of the European parliament in 2009 citizens had the opportunity to express their views and ideas in a public debate about the future of Europe. Among the questions discussed were: What are the criteria for a Europe worth living in? What are the interests of the people and where should a united Europe go to?

The charitable foundation of Bertelsmann and Heinz Nixdorf chose randomly 350 people in Germany to take part in a discussion-process about the future of Europe. In addition to two events (with physical attendance) an online-discussion took place, where the participants discussed with experts, exchanged their ideas about a better future of Europe and worked out a citizen program for a better Europe. The online-moderators, the experts and several politicians accompanied and supported the process but did not intervene in the contents.



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The technology behind:

The special feature was the request to let hundreds of people all over Germany write an extensive text about more than 100 pages together. For this reason it was necessary to extend the already existing working platform. After articulating questions about special issues the participants should work out solutions in an online-discussion. First of all, the questions were answered by theses, which could be commented, criticized and discussed. Moderators and experts could be integrated in the discussion and could be asked practical questions. After 30 days of discussion, the participants vote on a last version of the final text.

Comments:

"hello, I never thought, that a participation on a citizens forum could be so interesting and get more and more interesting." (A participant)
"If the voices of the citizens would be integrated more often in the political practice in this way, there is still a ray of hope, that our work is usable for something." (A participant)
"I am really impressed about this way to confrontate more people with the questions of Europe. I hope that your and our activities could make a contribution to the realisation of the idea of an united Europe." (A participant)
"We got it! With collective power we developed our second articel in the panel on population issues. Thank you very much for your support, all activists. It was really fun, even if it wasn't easy to find correct wording which integrates all your contents." (A participant/moderator)

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