We have been witnessing an impressive increase in the use of stratified randomly selected Citizens' Assemblies across the world in the last decade. Many believe that they can play a crucial role in creating the social conditions to tackle complex policy problems such as the climate emergency in addition to their intrinsic value for democratic renewal. Others however, criticise them as a gimmick or even a threat to traditional representative democracy.
This "deliberative wave" has now arrived in the EU, which for the first time in history is systematically applying such methods within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe taking place in 2021-22. In fact, the four European Citizens' Assemblies (here called Citizens' Panels) with 800 randomly selected citizens from across the EU are a key pillar in the Conference architecture. On 10 December 2021, one of them was hosted at the EUI in Florence offering its final deliberation and recommendations on European democracy/Values and rights, rule of law and security.
But what comes next? Do we need to make such EU Citizens' Assembly permanent? And if so, how should it be designed to become a truly efficient and meaningful instrument of transnational deliberative democracy? What can we learn from the many prior experiences in this vein, such as the French Citizens' Convention on Climate, the permanent Citizens Assembly in Eastern-Belgium or the Irish Citizens' Assembly model where citizens can vote on the assembly's proposals in a referendum?
For a Permanent EU Citizens' Assembly: Why, When, How?