Information Technology for the People

Digital Participation tools for all

Digital participation tools have emerged as valuable instruments in promoting democratic engagement, empowering citizens to actively contribute to the decision-making processes in the EU. Digital participation tools serve as a conduit for fostering civic education, enabling their users to stay informed about complex policy issues and legislative developments, thereby nurturing a better informed and engaged civil society. By democratising access to information and decision-making, these tools fortify the foundation of a vibrant democracy. This especially refers to the European Union, which has been said to suffer from a “democratic deficit.”

The significance of digital participation tools in enhancing citizen engagement to the democratic process cannot be overstated. These tools overcome geographical boundaries and time constraints, allowing individuals to engage in civic discourse and policy deliberations at their convenience. The digital landscape's interactive nature encourages dynamic interactions between citizens and policymakers, fostering a continuous feedback loop that informs policy formulation and implementation. By lowering the barriers to entry, digital participation tools enable a more diverse range of voices to be heard in public discourse. Additionally, these platforms empower citizens to collaborate, organise, and mobilise around shared concerns, leading to the emergence of bottom-up initiatives that can exert substantial influence.

In the era where public trust in institutions cannot be taken for granted, digital participation tools may provide the means to rebuild that trust by creating an environment of transparency, inclusivity, and shared ownership. This, however, will only succeed if such tools are carefully designed. Otherwise, they may even contribute to the deterioration of the very values that they aim to protect. In the Portal2EU project, we focus on evaluating the EU’s digital public consultation tool -– the Have Your Say! Platform -– and we propose improvements to its design.

Our moving pilars

We provide a multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach towards achieving improvements on online public consultations within the European Union. With such a wide ranging perspective, we aim to improve the EU’s system of public consultation from three fronts. These three: accessibility, transparency and outreach. Our name is combination of these, plus the concept of participation.

Other links and bibliography

Further useful links on digital and online participatory tools: