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Webinar invitation: New online tools to support argumentation in policy debates

8. August 2012 – 12:23 by Zebralog

/Please note: This post is not from Hans Hagedorn, but from Steffen Albrecht @ Zebralog – Hans’ avatar is displayed because of a malfunction of PEP-NET’s profile function – we’ll try to fix this…/

Get involved in the latest developments of  eParticipation tools!

Policy analysts, decision makers as well as civil society stakeholders and other people interested in policy-making all have to cope with numerous arguments brought forward in policy debates. The EU-sponsored IMPACT project develops open source online tools that help to make sense of the range of opinions about public policies expressed in policy consultations.

In a series of webinars, four new prototype tools will be presented, followed by an evaluation of the tools in which participants can discuss further improvements and the potential impact of the tools on policy-making. Based on material from the EU’s consultation on the Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, the participants will learn how to formalise and visualise arguments, how to estimate the effects of policy proposals with the help of policy modelling, and how opinions about arguments are assessed with the help of structured consultations.

We invite all PEP-NET members and readers of this blog to participate!
Please register for one of the following dates on this website:

The following dates are available:

Webinar with focus on argument reconstruction & visualization:

  • 21 August 2012, 11:00–12:00 CEST (Tuesday morning)
  • 23 August 2012, 16:00–17:00 CEST (Thursday afternoon)

Webinar with focus on policy modelling & structured consultation:

  • 28 August 2012, 16:00–17:00 CEST  (Tuesday afternoon)
  • 29 August 2012, 11:00–12:00 CEST  (Wednesday morning)

Further information is available here. If you have any questions, please contact Steffen Albrecht:

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“Scratching where it doesn’t itch?” Time to talk about eParticipation and elephants

28. July 2011 – 16:49 by Asociacion Ciudades Kyosei / Pedro Prieto-Martin

“The e-(R)evolution will not be funded. An interdisciplinary and critical analysis of the developments and troubles of EU-funded eParticipation is the title of a paper that our association recently wrote as part of our research and knowledge dissemination efforts. The article is meant to be properly published soon, but some bureaucratic issues have delayed its release more than we can wait.

Because this paper needs to be read and, more important, discussed while its analyses are still current.

Thus, we have decided to make it provisionally available through PeP-NET. To start such a conversation, what better place than PeP-NET, the Pan European eParticipation network? :-)
We have spent many hundreds of hours researching and writing the paper, as we struggled to make sense of the developments and “under-developments” of eParticipation in the last ten years.
Our appraisal is based on an extensive and interdisciplinary analysis of distinct relevant sources, which included the most recent reports, articles and literature reviews dealing with eParticipation research, practice and theory, as well as projects’ deliverables and evaluations, related databases, and our direct examination of eParticipation systems.
We had to resort to a very varied bunch of disciplines (from history and medicine to Mayan performing arts; seriously!! :-) ) to be able to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the field’s challenges… and to make a compelling exposition of them.

The paper ended up being “quite controversial”, as our assessment of eParticipation came to suggest that some of the problems that have hampered its progress have a systemic, overarching character: that kind of ‘elephant in the living room’-issues whose very existence tends to be denied because of their complexity or the embarrassment they cause and, as a result, cannot normally be acknowledged or discussed, let alone get properly sorted out.

Examples of the “embarrassing questions” the paper poses are:

  • How can it be that after 10 years… all relevant ‘agendas’ of eParticipation research are still reported as underdeveloped?
  • And how can it be that even the most basic questions –for example: the relation of Participation and eParticipation, or the understanding of the dual nature of eParticipaton as something that can be driven by authorities or by citizens themselves– remain unsolved?
  • More than 187 millions of Euros were invested in the last ten years to promote experimentation in the field, so… where are the results? Where are the breakthroughs and the research milestones? Can we feel satisfied with just some “vague confirmations” of ideas that 10 years ago could already have been easily guessed?

Through the paper, we have done our best to constructively diagnose eParticipation and to propose some treatments for the field’s maladies. But our perspective and understanding are necessarily limited: the real “treatment” for those problems would require a reflection process that involves the whole eParticipation community.

We see this paper as an urgent “call for self-reflection” and consider it a “MUST READ” for anyone involved in European eParticipation: from the officials working at EC’s Directorate for Information society and Media, to the researchers, practitioners, NGOs, public workers, citizen associations… and even any interested European citizen.

Therefore, we would like to encourage all our PeP-NET friends and in general all people with interest in eParticipation… to have a look at the paper during this nice summer weekend. :-)
Anyone who feels “touched” by any of the paper’s claims and argumentations… should speak up and comment to this post.
It doesn’t matter if it is to support, extend or complement our asseverations, or to oppose, challenge or further qualify them… please, share your views.
PeP-NET was meant to be a HUB for the conversations around eParticipation. So… let’s discuss. It is important that the issues we showed –be them real or imagined– are talked about, and possibly acted upon.

The environment where we operate is moving. Moving faster and faster. And in the context of the ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’ and its flagship initiative “Innovation Union”, which aims to renew EU’s “Research and Innovation Funding Programmes”, the most important question we need to answer is: “What do we do now??”
For sure, we could keep pretending that there is NO elephant in the living room. Stay in our “academic” Ivory Tower, and just continue doing as we did so far… while we wait for the “barbarians of eParticipation” to arrive, change the democratic landscape by really integrating ICT in governance… and make fools of all us. PeP-NET subscribers included. :-)

But in our association we want to believe that we, the European eParticipation Community, could do much better than that.

So… no more to say!! Thank you very much for your attention. We hope some of you enjoy reading of our paper and some exchange of ideas can happen afterwards.



Several people asked for a “summary” version of the paper. Here you have a JPG image (2,5 Mbytes) displaying a Conceptual Map that summarises the paper’s key findings.
I recommend you to save the file first, and then open it with an image editor (like Office Picture Manager) to watch it. It’ll be more easy for you to zoom in and out in the different parts of the image.

Paper's Summary

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Covering the costs of open data

19. January 2011 – 11:44 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

A report to the European Commission recently called upon Member States to step up their efforts to digitise catalogues of cultural works including books and paintings. This presents some challenges which I think help us to reflect on issues surrounding open data.

The act of digitising works costs money and doing it properly – ensuring that prints are of a high quality and high enough resolution to make them useful – can be expensive. As with any expenditure, public organisations have to demonstrate that their investment is justified by a public need or that they can recoup the money by selling what they produce. This is exactly what Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has done by selling on-demand prints of their works online. The argument that these works are public property and should be available free of charge may hold in principle, but if all works are made freely available then the funding must come from elsewhere or they simply won’t be digitised in the first place.

I think the same applies to open data: the data may be on paper, or uncollected. The act of collating this data simply for the purpose of making it public costs money and this investment will need to be justified against many other competing demands on the public purse. Where data is already in digital form and it is simply a case of putting a spreadsheet on the internet, the argument is more straightforward; but when it costs money to collect it and make it available it is more complicated, especially if the data is already a source of income. Why would you want to give companies that happily pay handsome sums for, say, mapping data this information free of charge? Why spend lots of money collating data that perhaps nobody will use?

The Localism Bill (see previous article) attempts to solve this by releasing data according to the wishes of local residents. I think we should be exploring other ways of ensuring that data remains a source of income whilst being available for people like community activists and volunteers who want to use data to improve their surroundings.

Public authorities should think about making data available under a Creative Commons licence. This could allow them to preserve their income streams by prohibiting commercial use, whilst allowing people to use the data for personal and voluntary means. It may even encourage more people to buy their datasets by giving them the option to “try before they buy”. Further, there may be some instances where a private company can work with a public authority to collect data for its own purposes and at its own expense. By obliging the company that collects the information to make it available for non-profit public use, this may be a way of covering the costs of data collection whilst retaining the principle of openness.

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Service redesign on an EU level?

7. June 2010 – 16:36 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Vienna Airport: free wifi

Everyone is talking about citizen-led service redesign these days, the idea that social media can allow citizens to design services and thus help the public sector meet their needs better whilst reducing waste. IDEA (the UK’s Improvement and Development Agency) is following up the publication of Local by Social, a guide to using social media to solve local problems, by teaming up with FutureGov to host an event bringing together local government officials and social innovators.

Hopping on a plane for a day is not quite the same as taking the train to Bristol, which seemed to happen at the drop of a hat when PEP-NET member Delib organised an event to plan the future of Britain’s deliberative democracy. Would this or something similar work on an EU level, and what are the specific issues it would face?

Whilst local authorities deliver hundreds of services on a local level, the EU is more distant. The ratio of citizens to staff is much higher, which makes that contact more difficult. The ever-present language barrier is a problem, as it always is when co-operating with other EU countries. Finally, the distance that you would have to travel to have face-to-face meetings is a lot larger. And worst of all, you’d have to meet in a café rather than a pub!

But the first question you would have to answer would be “What to design?”. One candidate is the European Citizens’ Initiative (or an online version of it), which is a provision in the Lisbon Treaty stipulating that if 1 million European citizens sign a petition, it has to be considered by the Commission. echo source started the ball rolling on this blog by raising some questions that need answering.

Then there is the Commission itself. It has made a commitment to demonstrate eGovernment as part of the Digital Agenda, and started a blog asking how it should use social media in its communications. How do citizens want the Commission to implement eGovernment in the coming years?

Or how about something new? Say, mini-grants for communities that want to twin themselves with communities in other countries and run a hyperlocal blog with an international touch, and a bit of money for cultural exchanges? As ever, ideas aren’t in short supply but it’s a matter of finding the best ones and putting them into practice. So it all comes down to cracking some of those problems I mentioned above.

Whatever you think of the EU, the freedom of movement, single currency and cheap transport between member states, added to access to online tools — brilliant at allowing collaboration over long distances — means that there was never a time when citizen-led service redesign on an EU level was more possible!

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European Citizens Initiative – a new (e?)-gate to the Comission?

20. April 2010 – 15:06 by Madarász Csaba

The European Citizens Intiatiave is on the right track after the Lisbon Treaty to open new gates to the European Commission.

European Citizens Initiative

European Citizens Initiative

1 million signature – not so much, if we think about the population of Europe.

The ECI is giving a sharp outlook on their website  about the passed public consultation and Commission’s points.

If you have not heard about the ECI -documents below helps to formulate opinion and getting know the project better visit their website or start browsing the core documents here:

ECI Summary from the Commission

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It’s your Parliament!

18. March 2010 – 17:03 by Civil College


We have seen various examples , how national parliaments are using the data available in parliament records to display on websites.

It is unlikely to have a function to easily find and compare voting records of political groups and individual representatives. The data is from the 2004-2010 years, and obtained from the official site.

This mashup site: provides this function with a really accessible user interface and a possibility to comment.

This social responsible mashup have built and mantained by Buhl & Rasmussen without any financial support from the EU or other is a typical case, that we citizens like, admire and even encourage to follow – when somebody has the spirit, talent and skills to point out and re-engineer information holes based on public data sources.

This example highlights the importance of open standards and open data, which technically makes possible to build a services like this. Just like in the offline world, where accessibility to relevant information is a cornerstone for real participation, here, accessing data in appropriate format (open standard) is equivalent.

Empowerment subnews.

In Hungary, a success story of right defender NGO, HCLU (TASZ) is highlighting the issue of e-participation in civil campaigns.

After a journalist investigation on the planned new Hungarian Motor Race court’s financial background –  to involve state aid and loan /see the story here  -sorry, but the editor has some bugs now/, – a couple of NGO’s, dealing with transparency have started to run a small scale email campaign, to get different data, related to the planned investment.

A few hundreds of emails has resulted a big scandal in the Hungarian political arena, and saved 35billion Euros for Hungary.

Writing an email, signing a petition does worth the time investment of a few minutes. Although, there might be only 1 from 1000 cases to produce such a big saving, but we have to be aware and spend some time to scan trough our facebook group messages and emails.

A few minutes every day can make us better e-and-non-e citizens!

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eParticipation Conference: Current State of Play & Future Directions

24. November 2009 – 16:59 by POLITECH

Have you ever wondered what the European Commission (EC) and the European Parliament (EP) do to diminish the democratic deficit in the EU and to involve the citizens into decision-making processes of the European Union? You can now see for yourself and participate in one of the most important events of 2009.

The projects co-funded by the EC under the eParticipation Preparatory Action are organising an eParticipation Conference, which will be held in Brussels on Tuesday, 15th of December 2009 at the European Parliament (Rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Brussels, Belgium, Room A.3E2) .


The development and wide use of powerful new ICT applications is transforming the way citizens and civil society interact, debate and participate in public life. These new tools have enormous potential to enhance decision-making processes by involving large numbers of EU citizens.

As the eParticipation Preparatory Action, an initiative of the European Parliament launched in 2006, reaches its conclusion, this eParticipation Conference is being organized to demonstrate progress and results in the use of Information and Communication Technologies to enhance citizens’ participation in democratic decision-making. In parallel, there will be an exhibition of project results produced in the context of the Preparatory Action. This is a unique one-time opportunity to see all the projects in one place and to engage into a conversation with projects’ leaders and representatives.

Register to the conference before 10 December 2009 at: (registration password: momentum)

Note: The Conference is free, but only registered delegates will be allowed entry for security reasons. All the participants should have some type of identification documents (for EU nationals – passports or national ID; for people from outside of the EU – valid passport documents are necessary).

For further information, please visit: or contact:

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Find your EU profile

27. April 2009 – 17:24 by e.V /

For those who haven’t decided yet on their favourite party for the elections in the European Union, 4-7 June 2009, a new interactive web feature, the EU-profiler, helps to make up your mind. The tool promises support in discovering the political landscape for the upcoming elections in Europe. However, its functionality and clickability are not free of hitches.

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Tell Barroso

3. April 2009 – 17:48 by

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A new web-survey – labeled with the telling name „“ – invites all EU-citizens to post their opinion about the EU policy areas. The survey suggests that the messages go all the way up to José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission. It seems odd though that the institution behind the survey is a party-affiliated think tank.

The distance to Brussels has never been shorter: The website suggests the direct interaction between you, the EU-cititzen, and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. Barroso invites you to post your opinion about the policy areas of the European Union and how it can “improve your“ life. And he promises, that is a „simple, non-partisan web poll“.

It is indeed simple. In a first step, you have to tick some social indicators, most likely for statistical reasons. In a second step, the user is invited to name a policy area and post his/her opinion about it. The third step constitutes a nice clickable feature, which is a sort of opinion-dartboard. By drag-and-drop the user arranges a random selection of statements around the bullseye. The distance to the centre of the board thereby indicates the importance of the particular statement.

However, the non-partisan bit of the poll is quite questionable. The institution behind this service is the Centre of European Studies, a think tank affiliated with the European People’s Party EPP, which constitutes the largest faction in the European Parliament. It is not so much a disturbing fact that Barroso, an EPP member himself, offers his image and his name for an interactive process which generates EU-citizens’ opinion about the EU and its work. Yet it becomes an issue if such poll is marked as non-partisan whereas the party-links appear that obvious.

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An alternative insider’s view on CAHDE

4. March 2009 – 11:15 by E-Voting.CC

This is a reply to the post: “Recommendation on E-democracy – adopted by the COE”.
It shall clarify the critiques on the CAHDE working-group, posted here earlier, which – in our opinion – missed out some details about the project.

The Council of Europe (CoE) established in 2002 the Ad-Hoc Committee on Electronic Democracy (CAHDE) aiming at creating a legal document suggesting standards of E-Democracy, formulating principles for introduction and providing generic definitions and analyses of tools and policies to facilitate the introduction of E-Democracy. The goals were challenging and manifold: they span from the general reaffirmation of essentials of democracy and the extension of democracy by using ICTs to facilitate information and deliberation of political issues and until the increase of transparency and accountability of democratic institutions and processes. The Committee of Ministers adopted the recommendation on February 18th, 2009.

A critical discussion of results and outcomes is important and necessary. Especially if we are aiming at giving advice on upcoming developments and technologies, that are not mainstream in the near future. Let us clarify some important points in advance and sketch the framework for discussion.
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