English

„Europe for All“

Chemnitz citizens debate on the future of the EU

Concept for a deliberative assembly

 

Introduction and objectives

Currently, the European integration process is facing many inner and outer difficulties, challenging the question of European solidarity and – in a broader sense – the fu-ture of the European project as a whole. Recent challenges such as the European asylum crisis, the financial crisis or the BREXIT vote have caused a crisis of trust and legitimacy among European citi-zens, with only one third declaring that they trust in the structure and the legitimacy of the European Union. Reflecting this “crisis from below”, the European Commission formulated a “White Paper on the Future of Europe”, aiming to open a new chapter of the European integration process. The goal of this white paper is to create a “process in which Europe determines its own path”. Following this discursive approach, European Commission President Juncker started a public debate including local and regional authorities as well as civil society.
Responding to those recent initiatives, our project team would like to use the 875th year celebration of the city of Chemnitz as an opportunity to invite citizens of Chemnitz to participate in a democratic experiment about the future of the European Union. The purpose of this project will be to guide the local community in carrying out a critical and constructive debate in the public about European political themes.

Our project aims to
• illustrate the interconnectedness of supposedly singular policy issues,
• foster tolerance of differing opinions and
• support the evolution and further development of active citizenship, civil participation and political engagement.

Methods and implementation:

The event will use the methodological approach of a “deliberative assembly” as a means of implementation. The “deliberative assembly” is a democratic approach which focuses on collective consultations, enabling the participants based on objective information and rational argumentation – to develop concrete solutions for societal challenges (see Van Rey-brouck 2013: 115). The first step of implementation will be the invitation of 1.000 randomly selected citizens of Chemnitz, with equal regards to age and gender, for an informative meeting, where we will give information on the goals and the stages of the project and describe the role and the added value for every individual participant. We are expecting a final number of 50 individuals out of the 1.000 invitees, who will finally participate in the deliberative assembly, representing the whole varie-ty of social and economic backgrounds and thus connect Chemnitz citizens in a new and innovative way. Thus, the deliberative assembly meets the overarching aims of the 875th Chemnitz anniversary. These aims are openness, displaying tolerance to each other and connecting the city’s citizens. Start-ing in January 2018, the participants will receive monthly briefing papers on selected issues concern-ing the European Union and its connection to local topics, especially regarding the city of Chemnitz. In addition, we will organize monthly meetings to answer the questions of the participants and to support them in achieving a deeper knowledge about the European Union. These preparations will culminate in the final event of our project, the “deliberative assembly”, which will last three days during our annual “European Week” 2018 (04 – 06 May). In professionally moderated group discus-sion, the participants will develop visions, demands and amendments regarding the future of the European Union from a citizens’ perspective.

Results and transfer:

The suggestions of the deliberative assembly should be directly transferred to the European discourse. In order to reach this objective, our group will invite politicians around Eu-rope to participate in the deliberative assembly. The results produced by the participants will be handed to the politicians as a manifesto. The event will be prepared and attended by public relations professionals, including the Chemnitz University of Technology and the City of Chemnitz. Thus, the deliberative assembly will reach a sustainable output with tangible results and feedback from the citizens of Chemnitz.

Roadmap October 2017 to May 2018:

Informative phase
01.10. + 15.10.2017

Invitation to the information event + Remembrance
15.11.2017
Information event
01.01, 01.02, 01.03 + 01.04.2018
Sending  monthly briefing papers

Informative & Deliberative phase
31.01, 28.02, 28.03 + 25.04.2018
Discussions meetings to elabo-rate the Briefing Papers and foster the relationship among the participants

Deliberative & Collaborative phase
04. – 06.05.2018
Deliberative assembly

Transfer phase
May 2018
Transfer of results and follow-up

Informative phase:

In this phase the participants will build a „relationship to the field“. This is based on the collection of information, arguments and expertise. In the first step, this is done through Briefing Papers, which ensures that all participants have a mini-mum knowledge of Europe and the European Union. The topics of the Briefing Papers are as follows:

1. What are the problems and challenges facing the EU? (The occasion of the debate)
2. What proposals are being discussed to deal with problems and challenges? (Context of the debate)
3. Why was the EU established? (Objective)
4. How has the EU developed? (Story)
5. What are the functions of the EU? (Functions)
6. What responsibilities does the EU have to fulfill its functions? (Responsibilities)
7. What financial resources are available to the EU to fulfill its functions? (Finance)
8. Who decides in the EU and how are decisions made? (Institutions and legislative procedures)
9. How does the EU differ from a nation state? (Legal nature)
10. What is the role of the EU at the international level? (International importance)
11. What is the importance of the EU for the municipalities and communities of the Member States (local importance)
12. How do Saxony and Chemnitz benefit from the EU? (Benefits)
13. How can citizens contribute to the EU? (Participation)
14. What is the purpose of Chemnitz’ application as „the cultural capital of Europe 2025“? (Visi-bility)
15. What are the pros and cons regarding the EU? (Achievements / deficits, euphoria vs. skepticism)

As an additional goal, the participants will establish a link between the project “European Union” and their lived realities. Building a relationship with the field also involves establishing a personal relationship with the content, topics and people who are important to the project. To this end, in addition to the Briefing Papers, we will convene monthly discussion sessions, giving space for both content and more open discussions among the participants. Questions that could be addressed by the participants are for example:
• What are my own interests and goals to participate in this project?
• What aspects do I particularly react to?
• What touches me most?
• Which aspects are not relevant for me, and why?

Deliberative phase:

The collective consultation stands at the core of the deliberative phase. This stage is an integral part of both the discussion session and the deliberative assembly and is mainly used for the formation of opinions as well as the communicative exchange and gathering of arguments. Within this framework, the discussion sessions focus on the search for demands, points of interest and criticism of the participants. These will then form the content of the deliberative assembly and the participants will be looking for specific, rational solutions to these challenges in methodologically framed workshops. Methods of the deliberative phase are:
• World Café,
• Round table and
• Ballot.

Collaborative phase:

The objective of the collaborative phase is to formulate solutions and demands. The collaborative phase is at the center of the deliberative assembly. It deals with concrete processes of cooperation, in which not only the opinions and thoughts, but also the abilities and the manifold potentials of all parties are integrated into a productive development process, which will lead to tangible and feasible results. The collaborative phase stands for procedural, methodological and design-oriented work on joint solutions.