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ECAS Presents its Interim Report on E-Participation in the EU at AFCO’s Public Hearing

ECAS participated in the European Parliament’s public hearing on Monday 14 March 2016 on the state of E-Democracy in the EU to present its interim report of a study on E-Participation

The hearing was organised by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) and focused on the Potential and Challenges of E-Democracy in the EU. The session was structured in three parts: a first panel providing the institutional perspective of the relevant departments at the Parliament and at the European Commission; a second panel featuring academics and experts in this topic, and a third session focussing on the interim reports of three studies commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department on Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs will be presented.

Elisa Lironi, ECAS’ Digital Democracy Coordinator, presented the interim report on “The Potential and Challenges of E-Participation in the European Union“. The study was commissioned to ECAS in February 2016 and the final version will be published in the beginning of May 2016.

The preliminary results of the study were used to send some key messages to the European Parliament:

  • E-Participation is a multidimensional phenomenon, as there are several interpretations of what it means. When tapping into this area the Parliament should therefore decide where it wants to be the frontrunner;
  • E-Democracy is not meant to replace traditional forms of representative democracy, but to complement it with some elements of direct democracy;
  • The perceived democratic deficit in the EU should not be approached as a threat, but rather as an opportunity to strengthen e-participation tools;
  • E-Participation can enhance citizens’ engagement, bring innovative ideas and enhance political legitimacy and trust, but only when taken seriously and with strong institutional support. If not, it can backfire and lead to citizens’ frustration due to a lack of impact.

The other two interim reports were presented on the potential and challenges of E-Voting in the European Union and on the legal and political context for setting up a European Identity Document. They have been commissioned, respectively, to the European University Institute and to Milieu Limited consultants.

Watch ECAS’ presentation at the hearing (from minute 2:06:30)

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