The European Citizens Consultation Sweden gathered on 21-22 of March, 91 citizens in Örebro to develop the Swedish perspectives on the economic and social future of Europe. The citizens participating in the consultation were randomly invited according to criteria of representatively: different age groups, different educational levels, gender, geographical distribution, and other Member States-specific criteria were considered to ensure that the citizens attending the European Citizens’ Consultation in Sweden represented the demographic composition of the country as a whole. The event was organised by Örebro University and its department for political science. The consultation was held at the university where vice president of the EU-commission Margot Wallström, held the opening speech.
The national consultation is and of 8 simultaneous consultations in other European countries, and is a following step to the previous web-discussion (previously mentioned in a posting by Involve on December 16, 2008). At some points during the consultation contact with Hungary and Ireland was established through Skype (as well as a tool developed specifically for the consultations) and shared results and thoughts regarding the other countries. After the third and last weekend of national consultations (28th/29th of March) all results from the national consultations will be put together and discussed in a second online phase.
My experience as a moderator for one of ten tables during this weekend was very rewarding. Not only did I get a hands-on experience of a democracy project (with much eParticipation) in action, but also I got to witness how individuals who self-stated total disinterest in EU or politics in general develop a genuine interest in the debate. Some of the themes discussed were environmental issues (such as the Russian gas line), transparency in political administration and how the EU should handle immigration. It will without doubt be interesting to see what topics that have been raised in all other countries, and which of them that will win the affection of participants in the next online-phase.