More EU citizens ‘should take part in Commission consultations’

5 Sep 19

The European Commission “should do more” to engage citizens during its public consultations, according to the EU’s financial management watchdog.

Although recent consultations “have been satisfactory overall”, the European Court of Auditors said, it recommended the Commission should “reach out” to citizens to promote greater participation.

Last year, an average of 2,000 people took part in each consultation – excluding the record-breaking consultation on whether clocks should stop changing seasonally, which received 4.6 million responses, although these were mostly from Germany.

However, auditors also found one consultation in which just three people participated. The population of the EU is more than 513 million people.

Annemie Turtelboom, the ECA member in charge of the special report in which the recommendation was made, said: “Citizen engagement in public consultations is key to maintaining the EU’s democratic legitimacy and achieving high-quality laws and policies.”

In the report, which was released today, the ECA argued that surveys should be released in all official EU languages where appropriate, and that surveys should be more reader-friendly, because they are often long and complex.

The report also said feedback to respondents was “insufficient”, with reports on the results often coming out long after the consultation had finished, and often only in English.

Turtelboom said: “The Commission should do more to achieve the goal of public participation with the best possible level of outreach to citizens and inform participants about the outcome of the public consultations.”

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