Critical success factors for citizen participation in the Conference on the Future of Europe

Published on 27 March 2020

Anticipating the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe in May 2020, Berenschot has co-signed a paper on the critical success factors for meaningful citizen participation in Europe. The authors, IFOK, and all the cosignatories are part of a strong network with a wealth of experience in civic participation.

The Conference on the Future of Europe aims to give Europeans a greater say on what the European Union does and how it works for them. The paper ‘Strengthening Europe through Meaningful Participation’ strongly endorses the European Commission’s plan for an inclusive, transparent and accessible Conference with broad and diverse citizen participation.

However, the authors warn that citizen participation could create high political risks for the EU if not conducted thoroughly. Which is why they share critical success factors and insights for designing and organizing meaningful participatory and co-creative processes.

The ‘Ladder of Participation’ describes options to link citizens with the Conference. For instance, random selection of a few thousand citizens as constant members of the Conference. This would ensure participation by people from all walks of life and regions. An alternative would be a Citizen’s Conference alongside the main Conference. A versatile multilingual and accessible platform for online participation would help to integrate an even broader public.

No matter what form the dialogues and events take, they would need to share the same standards, proceedings and quality. Which is why the authors recommend an efficient coordination office and a process advisory board. Ideally these bodies should include non-partisan external specialists and parties with expertise in coordinating large-scale multi-stakeholder processes.

As one of the partners in the network that co-signed this paper, Berenschot has considerable experience in facilitating and guiding governmental bodies to implement participative governance.

For more information on how to structure and design European citizen consultation processes please contact Robert Wester.


Robert Wester

Robert Wester

Senior managing consultant