E-Participation Brings the EU Closer To Citizens

by Gabriela Ruseva

In 2015 Telecentre Europe, together with twelve of its member organisations, starts its first Europe for Citizens project called “Enabling European e-Participation”, which aims at raising awareness about the online possibilities for participation in the EU policy-making regardless of how far from Brussels we live.

Rationale behind the project

E-Participation is ICT-enabled citizens’ participation in policies and policy-making. Many citizens consider that the EU is something that happens only in Brussels, far away from them and their daily lives. But in fact, the European institutions have created a number of online tools where each and every one of us can take part in the development of EU policies and benefit from our rights as European citizens. These opportunities are just a click away, but many citizens don’t know that they exist and can be used in all European languages!

Why telecentres are best equipped for this project?

One of the recognised shortcomings of e-Participation in Europe is that it is practiced by experienced Internet users. Telecentres can reach beyond these “usual suspects” and involve citizens with basic or even no previous online experience, including the elderly, the disabled, household women, etc. e-Facilitators in the telecentres are natural multipliers of the project results. Building their capacity to provide trainings on digital tools for e-Participation at the EU level is a long-term investment – they will be able to provide such trainings to their target groups long after the end of the project.

The four tools

The four tools that will be covered by the project are:

  1. Chat with your MEP, e.g. by using the Puzzled by Policy website;
  2. Launching a petition to the European Parliament – presenting the European Parliament Petitions Committee active online petition submission website and submitting a problem to SOLVIT;
  3. European Commission Public Consultations
  4. The European Citizens Initiatives

Through the discussions and practical workshops we will inform and motivate citizens to use these e-Participation tools and will encourage them to reflect on their practical relevance and usefulness.

Project activities

In eleven countries the national partners will organise the European e-Participation Day 2015. During this Day they will hold f2f discussions and practical workshops on e-Participation focused on the four e-Participation tools.

The e-Participation Day 2015 will be followed by an international competition “My e-Participation story”, where citizens will share their personal experience with the online e-Participation tools and will have the chance to win a trip to Brussels to present their experience to policy-makers at the multi-stakeholder conference “e-Participation from a Citizens Perspective”.

Project partners areFondazione Mondo Digitale (Italy), I.A.N. International Aid Network (Serbia), Telecentre-Danmark (Denmark), Stowarzyszenie Miasta W Internecie (Poland), Fundacja Rozwoju Spoleczenstwa Informacyjnego (Poland), Fundatia Eos Educating For An Open Society (Romania), Asociacija Langas I Ateiti (Lithuania), Albanian Institute Of Science (Albania), Associacio Per A Joves Teb (Spain), LIKTA (Latvia), Stiftung Digitale Chancen (Germany), and Smart Work Association (Estonia).

Why a European project on e-Participation?

In some countries like Denmark and Estonia, e-participation culture is fostered actively by national governments. In other countries this is not the case, but by presenting EU-wide online instruments, this projects aims to show that regardless of national realities, all European citizens can participate equally in policy-making at EU level.

We invite you to stay tuned for more information about e-Participation and the upcoming events!