As part of its Digital Democracy Agenda, ECAS has been working over the past year on an analysis of crowdsourcing as a means of enhancing democratic engagement in the EU.
Currently, the few existing tools for citizens’ participation in the EU have proven to be ineffective in bridging the democratic deficit. The crises the EU is currently facing call for more innovative forms of citizen engagement (including youth, non-formalised and/or non-mainstream civic groups) in order to regain trust in the European project
ECAS has been researching how to apply the crowdsourcing method as a complementary tool to existing frameworks in order to expand the number of contributors to EU policy-making, remove potential barriers to participation and “engage the unengaged” throughout Europe. This has been done by assessing 27 national case studies of crowdsourcing worldwide in order to examine if the EU can benefit from the lessons learnt in this field, thanks to the pro bono support of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The first results are promising, as the method of crowdsourcing legislation has shown in many national cases the potential to reduce the gap between EU decision-makers and citizens and to transform the relationship between them into more of a partnership, thus contributing to the development of an engaged citizenship.
However, in order to launch a crowdsourcing pilot at the EU level, there are still several questions which need answering. ECAS will be working with several civil society organisations under a European project to facilitate national debates and focus groups on potential subjects to be crowdsourced at the EU level, the time-frame for their completion and the technological platform to be utilised. It is envisaged that a successful pilot would be a catalyst for a wider change in EU decision-making to enable greater citizen participation.