CARE - Citizen Assemblies for Renewing Engagement
Citizen Assemblies for Renewing Engagment (CARE) is an initiatve by WeMove Europe gGmBH that aims at bringing randomly chosen European citizens together, in order to discuss a specific political problem and evaluate the results of decisions, made by decision makers involved in that political process. Given the dynamic quality of those taking part, citizen assemblies often take on a deliberative nature.
In 2018 citizen assemblies were a central focus of WeMove Europe gGmBH operations and gave citizens the opportunity to meet, learn about European institutions and ways in which they can participate, and offered a chance to discuss potential reforms in multiple countries simultanesouly.
We organized citizen assemblies in cooperation with the University of Liverpool, Asociatia Efectul Fluture and de-clic Initiative in Romania, as well with European Alternatives in Italy and Dem Nets in Hungary. The assemblies organized by WeMove Europe gGmBH were held in Berlin over two weekends in May and June 2018 . The participants were chosen at random representing people from all ages, genders and backgrounds. During the assemblies participants discussed the opportunities available to citizens to participate and be involved in EU politics. Accompanied by a panel of presenters, the assemblies determined their priorities for the various options of citzen participation, and discussed the advantages and disadvantages associated with them. One of the highlights of the second weekend was the presentation of the results from assemblies organized by the aforementioned organizations in their respective countries, as the results obtained from the various countries were suprisingly similar.
The assemblies were accompanied by a digital forum which offered the chance to discuss democracy in Europe, in a borderless fashion in various languages. More than 5,000 people took part in the online debate.
In December 2018 we invited participants to join us at the University of Liverpool to discuss the results of the assemblies. Participants included representatives of the European Commission, European Parliament, representatives of the various organizations, as well as citizens who took part in the assmeblies.
"Doing politics differently is the real value of citizens assemblies. If the rise of populist nationalism and the rather existential threats to the future of Europe tell us anything, it is that there is a need to do things quite radically differently. In particular to remove ourselves from our various bubbles and allow others to do the same. Whilst citizens assemblies are not a panacea, they are one valuable way to do democracy differently. As WeMove one of our main findings with this project is that people learn a lot about the EU and related political issues by engaging in citizen assemblies. They are one great way to help Europe escape from a vicious circle of a lack of creativity in democratic tools, low engagement and a dangerously wide gap between institutions and people."- Laura Sullivan, WeMove Europe gGmBH Executive Director, 5 December 2018