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Is Internet becoming the most powerful force in the European Union?

11. November 2010 – 11:20 by Institute for Electronic Participation



invite you to join the global virtual community in an


with Members of the European Parliament Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD), participating from Kiberpipa, Slovenia and Christian Engström (Greens-EFA/Pirate Party) participating from Sweden.

Moderator: Simon Delakorda (Institute for Electronic Participation)

In order to participate simply go to the Online Citizens Forum Web Page

The web page will support online participation through a video stream of the discussion taking place in Kiberpipa, Ljubljana ( while your direct participation will be supported through a special chat room in which the moderator will be taking questions prior to and during the discussion.

The on-line event is going to start on Friday, November 12th 2010 at 17.30 (CET). Everyone that wishes to join us in the near virtual world is welcome to visit Kiberpipa Kersnikova 6, Ljubljana or in Kibla, Ulica kneza Koclja 9, Maribor.

(more at

    * Free flow of information and services in the European Union and the protection of copyright and patent laws.
    * The role of the European Union in ensuring the protection of all internet users.
    * The future of information technologies and new forms of political participation with respect to the functioning and the role of the European Parliament in political life.

The event is organized by European Parliament Information Office for Slovenia, European Parliament Information Office for Sweden, Pro et Contra – Institute for Culture in Dialouge ( in cooperation with Kiberpipa. Web streaming of the European Parliament Citizens Forum is provided by the Institute for Electronic Participation (INePA) – and Studio 12 –

The European Parliament Citizens Forum started in 2005 with the aim to bring together on the one hand European citizens, NGO representatives and on the other Members of the European Parliament, representatives of national and local authorities to discuss current European affairs.

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E-participation & E-democracy workshop – Citizens Participation University 2010

6. August 2010 – 17:28 by Institute for Electronic Participation

E-participation & E-democracy workshop was organized as a part of the Citizens Participation University 2010 which took place from 20th to 24th of July in the Civil College in Kunszentmiklós-Kunbábony (Hungary).

10 NGOs representatives and activists from Armenia, Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Poland and Romania attended the workshop.

Participants were introduced with E-participation / E-democracy concept, political documents of the Council of Europe relating to eDemocracy, current e-participation developments in Central and Eastern Europe and different e-participation tools as well as good practices. The second part of the workshop facilitated open discussion about opportunities for involving e-participation tools into current and future civil society projects in the region.

The workshop was lead by Mr. Csaba Madarász (e-democracy expert and consultant, Hungary) and Mr. Simon Delakorda, M.Sc. (Institute for Electronic Participation, Slovenia)

Citizens Participation University 2010 was organized by the Civil College Foundation and Central and Eastern European Citizens Network (CEE CN).

Csaba Madarász and Simon Delakorda

Workshop presentations:
1. eParticipation in the CEE: NGO’s perspective (pdf, 4,10 mb).

E-participation & E-democracy workshop - Citizens Participation University 2010
Citizens Participation University 2010 participants @ CEE CN

Simon Delakorda and Csaba Madarász
Simon Delakorda and Csaba Madarász @ CEE CN

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Study: Best Practice E-Participation in Austria (in German)

27. April 2010 – 18:00 by Centre for E-Government
Guest article by neu&kühn

neu&kühn, companion and developer of online projects with public participation, presented their recently published analysis for the project group E-Democracy & E-Participation on the 8th of April, 2010. In the context of a best practice analysis more than 30 international e-participation examples were reviewed and important factors for a successful collaboration highlighted. The analysis works as guide for administration, politics and institutions. Authors Kirsten Neubauer and Peter Kühnberger view social media as an opportunity for dialogue, building of trust and mobilization.

Best Practice

E-participation examples of various sizes were reviewed – from small town councils with about 2.500 citizens to megacities. The following e-participation projects represent a selection of the analyzed projects from the areas of environment, damage reports, budget and urban development. The home countries of these projects are mostly in the Anglo-American area and in Scandinavia, where local as well as national initiatives for participation can be found. The German speaking area is more likely to be focused on regional topics.

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CEE region countries ranking according to the UN e-participation 2010 index measurement (the first traits)

13. April 2010 – 12:02 by Institute for Electronic Participation

This is a short summary of the contribution to the CEE CN background paper provided for the PEP-NET on-line consultation “eParticipation in Central and Eastern Europe: The big questions“.

The table (available in pdf file from the Institute for Electronic Participation web site) representing current United Nations e-participation 2010 index measurement for CEE countries shows, that an average UN e-participation 2010 rank of the CEE region is rank 70th (+24 ranks improvement in relation to 2008) out of 178 countries included in report.

Countries with the highest level of rank improvement are TFYR Macedonia (+ 109), Bulgaria (+ 99), Romania (+ 83), and Albania (+ 66). On the hand, countries like Bosnia – Herzegovina (-37), Ukraine (- 35), Czech Republic (- 26) and Azerbaijan (- 19) are facing the largest position decrease.

Additionally, three sub groups within CEE region can be identified according to the UN e-participation 2010 ranking:

- High level e-participation countries (among the first 30 countries in the world):
Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. All countries except Croatia in this group are a new EU member states.

- Medium level e-participation countries (ranking 31-100 in the world): Bulgaria,
Latvia, Ukraine, Republic of Belarus, Poland, TFYR Macedonia, TFYR Macedonia, Romania,
Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Albania, Czech Republic and Russia.

- Low level e-participation countries (ranking among least developed countries in
the world): Slovakia, Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia – Herzegovina and Serbia.

Additional data will be presented in the next contribution to the background paper focusing on data comparison with the EU and more detailed explanation in relation to specific e-government components (on-line services, telecommunication infrastructure and human capital) in order to provide basic insight into key eGovernment enablers for eParticipation development in CEE region.

Prepared by Simon Delakorda, M. Sc.
Institute for Electronic Participation
Ljubljana, Slovenia

UN e-participation index notice: please note that this index is a very technically oriented index focusing on national governments performances only.

United Nations. 2010. E-Government Survey 2010: Leveraging E-government at a Time of
Financial and Economic Crisis (to be published). Available from
United Nations. 2008. E-Government Survey 2008: From E-Government to Connected Governance. Available from

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echo – The Global Agora – Rethinking Democracy

7. April 2010 – 19:18 by echo source

As we now have been PEP-NET member for about two months, we now finally would like to introduce echo to the ones who may not knows us yet – better late than never ;-)

Motivation and image

Today humanity is facing some serious environmental, economic and humanitarian challenges never seen before. However, satisfactory solutions are not in sight. The lack of transparency in political decision making provokes a growing sense of powerlessness and political resignation among the population and weakens people’s faith in democracy. Calls for transparency and more participation are growing louder.

The current crises can thus be understood as a general crisis of democracy.

New ways have to be found, empowering people to develop constructive solutions to effectively tackle our “glocal” challenges. This is why echo has been founded: As a platform for sustainable change and active citizen participation echo enables a new form of non-partisan participatory democracy on local, regional and global level. With echo the first web-application is being developed to enable collective intelligence through democratic discourse even with a virtually unlimited number of participants.

echo offers a quick overview of interesting discussions, gives people an opportunity to voice their opinions in a deliberative discourse and to jointly find the right solutions. On echo, people can connect with allies, experts and decision makers and together turn their decision into reality.

echo consists of three clearly separated functional areas, which at the same time are tightly interwoven:

Discuss, Connect, Act!

Discuss is the core area, which contains most unique features and enables collective intelligence to emerge. The discussions taking place in the discussion area offer a differentiated overview of the different statements edited and supported by certain regions or societal groups.

Every statement is edited through a self organized democratic process (without the need of moderators or admins). Thanks to the new semantic cross-language search engine, users can find easily a comprehensive selection of relevant information. With only minimal effort thousands of users can contribute to the dynamic evolution of sound statements.

Connect offers users an easy possibility to organizes their contacts, add interesting experts and opinion leaders their personal network and to connect people with specific competences relevant to a certain subject. To enhance usability and foster a viral growth there will be interfaces connecting several external social networks like twitter and facebook.

Act! motivates the participants of discussions to proactively launch actions and projects, to jointly turn their ideas and visions into reality, and thus, make change visible in every day life. To do so, echo offers a virtual work space equipped with the necessary tools and information to efficiently plan and accomplish different kinds of actions and projects and found eco-socially sustainable businesses.

As most actions and projects will need funding, echo is based on powerful business models. “Powerful“ does not merely mean working cost-covering. It also means helping users to provide their actions with the necessary funds. This enables people to accomplish their goals and lets their virtual engagement influence our real world in a positive way, which is the key to motivate ever more people to participate on echo. Thus, the comprehensive concept of echo has true potential to free people from their sense of powerlessness, offer them a way of successful self-determination and help them restore their faith in democracy.

Create Synergies

In order to overcome the limitations of individual platforms, echo employs a distributed approach and makes its functionality available throughout the whole Internet. Accordingly, relevant discussions and actions from echo can be displayed and edited on any web page and blog. In this way, echo complements the functionality of other platforms and creates true synergies, instead of hamstringing competition.

Shared User- and Opinion Base

Through cooperation with echo, partner platforms connect their communities with each other. This way, their different user groups are joint together in a single cross-platform community. The users can now connect throughout all platforms, discuss and jointly launch actions and projects.

Moreover, echo addresses to users on a larger scale exceeding such groups from existing platforms through an extended network with further organizations. This in turn, multiplies the range and influence of each single partner platform. Projects and campaigns profit from the viral dissemination and its huge and highly motivated community.

Discussions on issues, which are relevant to the different partner platforms can be initiated on any other partner platform, thus, enriching discussions and making them more interesting and alive. This way a much broader opinion base is formed, as possibly could emerge on any single platform. New impulses and issues flow back and forth, enriching discussions and rising the attractiveness of all partner platforms.

This thematic diversity – covering different thematic fields and ranging broadly and deeply into society – rises virality enormously. The synergetic effects allow for a common development of content throughout different communities, which offers interesting information to virtually every Internet user. Thus, the influence of the proposals elaborated in this distributed system will boost its influence on society enormously.


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Does e-participation change anything for watchdogs?

23. March 2010 – 17:30 by Institute for Electronic Participation

Presentation made at the Seminar for Watchdogs held in Warsaw, 11-12th March 2010. The slides are available at the Institute for Electronic Participation web site (pdf, 805 kb).

The presentation is a follow up from a discussion paper E-participation – a new sphere of NGO activity? originally published in June 2009 at the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE Trust) Civil Society Forum web site

E-participation – a new sphere of NGO activity?

A new sphere of NGO activity has emerged in recent years in Slovenia, as a number of NGOs have started to take a more web-based approach. A number of on-line projects have been introduced, such as the Slovenian Civil Society e-Participation web service[1], The Citizen’s Forum[2], the NGO e-Participation portal available during the Slovenian EU Council Presidency[3], The Citizen’s forum for the European elections 2009[4], Open-source NGOs e-Participation platform[5] and the e-participation platform for NGO involvement in establishing the Law on voluntary work[6]. These projects aim to strengthen civil dialogue and utilize the internet to support participatory democracy.

Maximizing the impact of this new arena has understandably led to some challenges and dilemmas, for the NGO sector, which we will outline here and will, hopefully, form the basis of further discussion.

The real challenge

A number of ad-hoc e-participation projects and successfully implemented applications are not seeing much traffic or interaction because internet users are simply not paying attention to them. There are three main reasons for this. Firstly, the application is intentionally or unintentionally badly promoted to the general public or focus groups. Government institutions are not usually keen to promote on-line participation tools which are already available. They fear a potential rush to participate and management problems. NGOs, on the other hand, often do not have enough resources to promote their e-participation projects on a larger scale, particularly through traditional mass media.

Secondly, the e-participation projects are focused on relatively minor or highly technical expert issues, which may be irrelevant to the general public and their quality of life. If this is the case, NGOs have a duty to explain these complex issues, relate them to everyday life experience. They have to explain to people why the issue is relevant to them and how their participation can improve the situation. Never-the-less, a much more effective way to rally people around e-participation is to base projects on public problems and policy issues, which directly concern a larger proportion of the population.

Thirdly, there is often little evidence of how these e-participation projects will impact public opinion or decision-making processes. Potential users do not know how the results of e-participation are going to shape policy issues, problems or public perception. Improving this situation requires feedback from governmental institutions and politicians, monitoring any impact on legislation or changes in public perception of a particular issue and the degree of mass media recognition. E-participation is therefore often more of a political and social challenge than a technological one.

Sustainable success

NGO e-participation projects, although not for profit or market-oriented, are often very demanding in terms of both organizational and financial resources. Open-source Internet applications and user friendly web 2.0 applications enable NGOs to establish their own e-participation applications very quickly and with minimum costs. Whether or not an NGO successfully implements e-participation, however, depends on its mobilization capacity, decision-making impact, community building, technical security, personal data protection, moderation of on-line communication, public promotion, monitoring techniques and evaluation methods.

Most of this know-how is needed in order to establish a proper social, communication and political environment for e-participation applications. For example, when moderating an on-line policy forum or consultation, a specific set of rules usually applies to enable deliberate democratic communication and starting questions. Data is usually available to enable informed debate and messages from participants are summarized in a report at the end.

NGOs facilitating e-participation projects often need to have at their disposal expert and in-depth understanding of complex decision-making, policy-making and public opinion forming processes, especially at the level of EU institutions.

Furthermore, new skills are required when facilitating and building up social networks and communities as a part of e-participation projects. This includes using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flicker and providing messages through different formats and features on-line. As the most successful e-participation projects are the ones which are most sustainable, NGOs have to provide long-term, diverse human and technological input to keep up with rapidly evolving Internet technology.

Coordinating off-line and on-line participation

The digital divide is often cited as a barrier to e-participation. Older generations are generally less likely to have the proper skills required to use new information and communication technologies. Marginalized groups within society often do not have proper Internet access, allowing it to be dominated by white, well-educated people.

It has been suggested that the democratic potential of the Internet is strengthening the political power of those who are already information-rich and empowered. The Internet therefore supports the existing balance of power in favour of political elites.

For these reasons it is vital that e-participation projects implemented by NGOs play a part in real-time processes and are connected to live events and discussions in order to enable the participation of people who are unable to utilize the latest technology.

For example, the on-line Citizens forum for the European elections 2009 enabled e-participation through a system of e-points, positioned at live public events. Facilitated by a moderator, these e-points provided access to laptops. Paper questionnaires were also distributed with the results later published in an on-line debate.

Legitimatizing participation

NGOs deliver both top-down and bottom-up e-participation projects and applications. The first are usually co-financed by government institutions on a local, national or EU level. The second are usually co-financed by the NGO foundations, networks or implemented by NGOs themselves.

As top-down e-participation projects such as e-consultations, e-panels, participatory budgeting and e-legislation are promoted and supported by government institutions, they have a higher degree of public visibility. They are also more likely to impact policy or legislation directly.

On the other hand, because these government institutions have a greater degree of ownership over the project, they can hijack the e-participation process and adapt it to their specific goals. These are often related to legitimizing governmental agendas, as was the case with the NGO e-Participation portal for the Slovene EU Council Presidency.

Bottom up e-participation projects such as e-activism and e-campaigning are used by NGOs to coordinate, organize, finance and engage the public. They aim to mobilize and gain support or deliver a political message as a part of political campaigns, as was the case with the Open-source NGOs e-Participation platform.

Grass-roots activities like e-petitions, e-questionnaires, Facebook groups and blogs do not usually represent part of a formal or institutionalized policy-making process and are therefore providing much needed input from citizens in relation to government institutions, based on the principle of participatory democracy. This can, however, sometimes result in conflict with a government or a stalemate in the decision-making process. In order to overcome this kind of dichotomy, a new NGO participatory community multi-media project in Slovenia has been exploring new possibilities for video e-participation 2.0, such as Studio 12)[7]. Top down e-participation is more efficient but bottom up e-participation is more legitimate.

Looking for success in e-democracy

NGO e-participation projects in Slovenia clearly demonstrate the democratic value of the Internet, especially when providing information and data related to decision-making process. This was the case with the Slovene Civil Society e-Participation web service which provided information and opportunities for citizens and NGOs to e-participate in different policy-making processes. Meanwhile, the NGO e-Participation portal for the EU Council Presidency enabled document provision, raising EU policy awareness, strengthening transparency and enhancing public visibility of the Slovene Presidency.

On the other hand the challenges of justifying such initiatives as forms of e-democracy and funding still remain. Firstly, meeting social expectations related to the depth of on-line discussions and deliberation is demanding additional efforts in perceiving Internet technology as a truly interactive technology within decision-making processes.

Secondly, the political expectations behind providing concrete evidence of the inclusion of citizen and NGO contributions into final decisions, documents or policies are often not realized. For this purpose a proper evaluation framework or methodology for the effects of e-democracy should be created. The latter is especially important when reflecting on imaginary and fake top down e-participation projects conducted by governments and public relations agencies.

The future of NGO e-participation
A number of challenges therefore remain for NGOs keen to get involved in e-participation. They must develop effective ways of linking on-line and off-line participation, thereby tackling the digital divide.

They must also reflect critically on institutional, top-down public relations and technocratic-oriented attempts at e-democracy introduced by political elites and governments.
Successful examples of NGO e-participation need to be promoted to the general public through the media, thereby creating more public awareness.

Transparency of e-participation, inclusiveness and personal data protection must be secured in order to build confidence and the conditions necessary for e-participation need to be cultivated further.

NGOs need to create focused and sustainable e-participation projects and cement their role as e-participation facilitators.

Finally NGOs need to successfully manage their e-participation resources. They need to build up a catalogue of professional skills in on-line engagement and participatory process management. They need to accept that e-participation needs to appeal to the general public as a means of improving quality of life. E-participation needs to become personal.

E-participation initiatives clearly come with more political and social issues and dilemmas than technological ones. This gives debates on e-participation additional relevance, as they are framed and conceptualized by debates on the future development of political democracy.

Simon Delakorda & Matej Delakorda

[2] /
[3] /
[8] The Institute for Electronic Participation was established in 2007 as the first Slovene non-profit non-governmental civil society organisation professionally focusing on eDemocracy, eParticipation, eGovernance, eInvolvement and eInclusion. INePA experts and professionals have been the main architects behind most of the largest and most successful e-democracy projects in Slovenia. (

References used in this article:
1. Delakorda, Simon / Delakorda, Matej (2009) Contribution to democratization of the EU Council presidency: NGOs e-participation portal The International Conference on eParticipation: ePart 2009.1st-3rd of September 2009. Linz, Austria. To be published.
2. Delakorda, Simon (2007) Digital Age – A Stronger Democratic Role of Non-Governmental Organisations in the EU? The Our Europe project. Available on-line
3. Delakorda, Simon (2007) Citizen’s Forum: The first successful eDemocracy initiative in the Republic of Slovenia? eChallenges 2007 conference & Exhibition, 24th-26th of October 2007. Den Haag, The Netherlands. Available on-line

Simon Delakorda, M.Sc., (1978) is a full time eDemocracy/eParticipation practitioner & researcher and founding director of the Institute for Electronic Participation in Ljubljana. Starting in 2000, he participated in most of an early internet democracy projects within university and NGO’s sector in Slovenia. He is an author and co-author of articles and case studies and conference speaker on democracy, political participation, active citizenship, non-governemental organizations and government on-line. He received his political science B.Sc. degree on e-democracy in 2002 and M.Sc. degree on e-participation in 2009. He worked as an e-democracy course associate and researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana, as a co-founder and head of the Centre of Electronic Democracy at the Institute of Ecology and as an e-democracy associate at the Arctur IT Company Ltd. In 2004 and 2006 participated in preparation of the Slovenian eGovernment policy documents. During 2006-2007 he coordinated and managed the E-participacija web portal and moderated the first successful e-democracy experiment in Slovenia – the Citizen’s Forum. In 2007 he founded the Institute for Electronic Participation (INePA). His current projects and research focus includes e-participation 2.0 at the EU level institutions and civil society. He is a member of the Slovenian Political Science Association. He received awards and experts recognitions as an e-democracy student, moderator and facilitator and is currently the affiliated expert of the Demonet: the eParticipation network.

Matej Delakorda is a project manager and IT expert. In 2007 he obtained his University Degree in Sociology at Unversity of Ljubljana. In his career he has been involved in developing and maintaining eDemocracy and eParticipation web applications. He is a president of management board of Institute for Electronic Participation and a project manager in Studio 12 which is a Slovene multimedia Center and Internet TV station. Among his bigger IT projects were: non-governmental organizations portal for the period of Slovene EU Presidency, web portal for democratic e-participation of Slovenian citizens, NGO’s and civil society, video portal and independent multimedia production that covers issues of ecology, society and human relationships.

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An european database to promote e-Participation

14. December 2009 – 19:34 by Eric Legale

It is “a simple, friendly and easy to implement project”. In these words, Daniel Roleff, editor of the German portal politik-digital has introduced, during the last eDemocracy Awards workshop. It is a joint initiative of the German website and the British Council, the British cultural agency in Germany to create an interactive database on projects and initiatives aimed at strengthening citizen participation in Germany and the United Kingdom.

If, today, the website identifies e-Democracy initiatives in Italy, the aim is to open this database to all European experiences.

To see the video

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Climate-Pool: Your say in Copenhagen Climate Change Conference!

2. December 2009 – 21:27 by POLITECH

climate_poolWorld’s news agencies join in interactive hub for Copenhagen climate conference!

Eleven international news agencies have launched a joint Facebook page to interact with news consumers across the globe during the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen.

The Facebook fan page, called The Climate Pool, will bring the news agencies together in an unprecedented collaboration to spark a global conversation about climate issues. The purpose of the Facebook hub ( will be to engage readers in direct communication with the world-class journalists covering the U.N. conference Dec 7-18.

Participating are Agence France-Presse, ANP of the Netherlands, The Associated Press, APA of Austria, APcom of Italy, Canadian Press, dpa of Germany, Kyodo of Japan, Lusa of Portugal, Press Association of the United Kingdom and RIA of Russia.

The climate page on Facebook will feature a blog format, providing a behind-the-scenes view of the event and linking out to important coverage of the talks from the agencies and the media outlets they serve. Twitter also will be used to attract followers for the blog and related coverage.

The agencies have come together for the Copenhagen project under the auspices of MINDS International, a global news agency network.

“The climate summit in Copenhagen will affect the lives of billions of people, and it is likely to grip the attention of news consumers all over the world,” said Wolfgang Nedomansky, managing director of MINDS. “The Climate Pool will provide a unique outlet for Internet users to discuss climate change with some of the world’s most experienced journalists covering the conference.”

The Climate Pool page will be produced in English and will incorporate blogposts and multimedia content from the participating agencies, along with links to coverage from around the world.

The Portugese News Agency, Agencia de Noticias de Portugal (LUSA), partner of EMPOWER, an eParticipation Trial Project co-funded by the European Commission under the EU eParticipation Preparatory Action, is a leading force behind this interesting initiative.

The eMPOWER e-Petition platform will serve as an interface between decision-makers at National and European level on one hand and NGOs and citizens on the other hand, while using and testing new forms and methods of civil participation as well as enhancing the role of National News Agencies in promoting and supporting relevant initiatives and ensuring a wider outreach of the project’s results.

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Boosting Austria’s “e-Governability”:!

25. June 2009 – 15:03 by E-Voting.CC

Earlier I have written about the Student Union elections of May 2009 which were Austria’s first use of a legally binding electronic voting system.

The E-Voting system required the students to authenticate themselves using a citizen card. In Austria this “citizen card function” is included in the social security card, which is called e-card. The e-card was launched in March 2005 in order to modernize the old fashioned system of legitimizing the citizen’s status in front of doctors via the paper version of the “Krankenschein”.

The e-card has since then been issued 8.5 million times according to the official website. 11.151 partners accept the e-card in doctor’s practices all over Austria and it has been used 405 million times for this purpose. But the e-card is much more than a tool for more efficient social security administration. Read the rest of this entry »

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BürgerForum Europa – a citizen´s dialogue about the future of Europe

3. June 2009 – 13:33 by Hans Hagedorn

The European Parliament will proclaim the United States of Europe? EU will grant basic financial security for all its citizens? After so many rejected referenda and strong suspicions against European politics, these ideas sound out of touch. However, they are just two examples from 16 solutions worked out by 361 citizens – randomly chosen in Germany – during a citizens’ dialogue about the EUs future.

Special about these ideas is that they were not gathered in a quick opinion poll. Instead they are the result of a focused discussion, combining offline- and online debate, in which citizens tested and qualified their original opinions. What are the abilities of such an online dialogue and where are its limitations? Read the rest of this entry »