Imagine a European Citizens’ Assembly (ECA) of 200 or more randomly selected citizens from all the countries of the EU who deliberate and come to recommendations on pressing matters of European policy.
We have experience of running such deliberative mini-publics and we know how to work constructively across languages and other differences. An ECA would be an effective way of bringing the informed deliberations of citizens directly into the political decision making process at scale.
Random selection would ensure that every citizen in the EU would have an equal opportunity to be selected to participate in an ECA. An ECA could be integrated into the institutional architecture of the EU in a number of ways.
- An ECA could be launched to deliberate and provide recommendations on any proposed European legislation.
- A successful European Citizens’ Initiative could launch an ECA that would deliberate on the proposition and come to a recommendation on how the EU ought to take the issue forward.
- Or more radically, an ECA could be standing body of the EU, with the same rights and responsibilities over legislation and policy as the European Parliament. Membership of a standing ECA would change on a regular basis (every one or two years).
The ECA model is a feasible and effective strategy to engage citizens meaningfully in the political process across a polity of the size and complexity of the European Union.