Brown Bag Event marks Inauguration of the European Dialogue Consortium
In April 2008 experts for participation in Europe came together in Berlin to found the European Dialogue Consortium (EDC). The inaugural meeting of the Consortium was marked by a celebratory brown-bag event on participation in Europe. The lunch-time event was attended by guest speakers from Europe and America who discussed the current status quo and possible development perspectives. Dr. Erik Amnå from Sweden, an expert in participation and lecturer at Örebro University, detailed the possibilities for overcoming the current political crisis of confidence in Europe including through the use of participation. Richard Wilson, co-founder of the British think-tank Involve, outlined how European governments make use of modern citizen participation while Benoît Thieulin, head of Ségolène Royal’s internet campaign during her recent bid for the French presidency, spoke of how modern technologies enabled target groups to be addressed better and faster. Sandy Heierbacher, co-founder of the American National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, spoke of her experiences with participative processes in the USA.
“The foundation of a network like the European Dialogue Consortium is long overdue”, said Heierbacher. “The perspectives for success in Europe are really good, given that numerous governments actively support participative processes here” she explained. Thieulin also spoke of his conviction that such a network would enjoy great success: “Our experiences in France show that one of the key prerequisites for successful participation is networking. The internet is becoming increasingly important for this, given that it will enable totally new forms of participation in future.”
“Peoples’ trust in the decisions made by the heads of politics, business and society is vanishing — and that across Europe” said Hans-Peter Meister, CEO of IFOK and member of the EDC. Citizen participation is the right means by which to regain that trust: “Those who wish to initiate sustainable change in Europe must involve and integrate people into their decisions.” For this reason the newly founded network bundles the knowledge of experts and practitioners: Experts work together across borders and exchange their experiences, trends and opportunities via our network. Therefore, the Dialogue Consortium is a genuine benefit for participation in Europe” Meister added.