The role of the European Citizens’ Assembly (ECA) is to deliver high-quality decisions made by an independent and representative group of citizens on any topic concerning European Union. These decisions are to be made after learning deeply about the issue and after a well-organised deliberation process.
Structure of the European Citizens’ Assembly
To provide credibility and trust in the process of organising a European Citizens’ Assembly (ECA) it would consist of 27 national assemblies (or 28 with United Kingdom), each with a randomly-selected group of citizens, according to basic demographic criteria. This will ensure that citizens in each country would have more interest in, and a better chance of following, the meetings and interest groups would have easier access to it to present their disparate points of view. The 27 national assemblies would exchange information about expert opinions that are heard in each country as well as the positions of diverse stakeholders. These national gatherings would culminate in a single European event, the ECA, in order that participants of 27 countries can meet directly. The aim of this design is to respect national perspectives, to bring the democratic process closer to home, while at the same time enabling a dialogue across the whole European Union.
The size of the national Citizens’ Assemblies (nCAs) could vary from 50 to 120 participants, depending on each country’s population size. The exact formula would be determined in advance and should be large enough to be trusted by the society. Each country would use four basic demographic criteria – age, gender, education level and geographic (large city/small city/rural) – plus additional criteria relevant to a particular country, e.g. language or minority groups.
Every person with a right to vote in elections to the European Parliament should be able to potentially receive an invitation to become a member of the nCA and the later ECA.
All nCAs would be run according to the same rules and standards as regular citizens’ assemblies with this key difference that a synopsis of all expert and stakeholders presentations would be translated into 24 languages and sent to the participants of other nCAs and published online. The same basic introductory material in writing would be produced for all 27 nCAs, but the detailed programme of the meetings of nCAs would be created by local coordinators.
Initial proposals for recommendations would be developed locally by nCAs and sent out across the European Union. Then members of all nCAs would come together for a weekend to deliberate in person with people from all other EU countries at the ECA. A special translation system can be developed to allow discussions in small groups. On the last day participants from nCAs would come together to exchange what they have learned from members of other countries. Final voting to accept the recommendations would take place after ECA to give time to consider deeply the recommendations and local perspectives across the European Union.