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why did the link to “your voice in europe” disappear from the eu commission’s front page? August 24, 2016

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , trackback

The EU Commission’s front page changes from time to time, and recently there was one change I dislike: there used to be a link right on the front page to a page with the title Your Voice in Europe with links to open consultations being carried out by the Commission. I don’t think all of the Commission’s consultations in fact appeared on this page. I mostly pay attention to what is going on in financial regulation, but every now and then I would come across a consultation that didn’t seem to be shown on the Your Voice in Europe page or at least showed up there after it was initiated. Anyway, the page is still there, but it isn’t linked to directly from the front page. There is a link for Commission at Work which shows a list of “popular links” which include a link to the Your Voice in Europe page, as well as to a separate Contribute to EU Law-Making page (which has links to other pages including the Your Voice in Europe page), a page on Citizens Initiatives.

Obviously business stakeholders and others who are highly motivated will find out what consultations are relevant to their interests – for them it doesn’t really matter if you have to search around a bit to find out what is going on. But for others it does matter. The Commission should be doing more to figure out how to encourage citizens to participate in the policy process. A recent article (Epstein, Dmitry and Leshed, Gilly (2016) “The Magic Sauce: Practices of Facilitation in Online Policy Deliberation,” Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 12: Iss. 1, Article 4. Available at: http://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol12/iss1/art4) states:

Online policy deliberation spaces have higher barriers to entry for the public than the popular discourse would like us to believe… Interfacing with bureaucratic policymaking institutions, policy deliberation is constrained by structures, regulations, procedures, practices, and processes that require a very particular kind of participatory literacy. Effective participation in policy deliberations requires a certain level of subject matter expertise as well as reason-giving and, where possible, evidence-based substantiation of one’s opinions on specific issues… Novice participants, however, often default to voting-like behaviors of registering their preferences or unsubstantiated sentiment expression. Lacking depth and reasoning, mass online civic participation (e.g., online petitions) is often viewed as disappointing in its usefulness to decision-makers.”

For the authors facilitation by moderators is key. But figuring out how to get citizens engaged in general in the policy development process is also important.

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