ECA: Better outreach to citizens required to improve EC's public consultations
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has published a report evaluating the European Commission's framework for consulting the public during the development and evaluation of EU laws and policies. In general, the ECA says, this framework is of a high standard, and the performance of selected recent public consultations by the Commission has been satisfactory overall. However, the auditors recommend that the Commission improve the way it reaches out to citizens to promote greater participation. In addition, it needs to better monitor and assess their contributions to protect against manipulation of results, they say.
The European Commission (EC) consults citizens and stakeholders in all areas of EU action and throughout the policy cycle and also invites citizens to share their views at any stage from the initiation to the evaluation of EU policies through the EC's “Have Your Say" portal. The Commission conducts over 100 public consultations a year. In 2018, 2,000 citizens on average took part in each consultation. This excludes the "clock change" consultation, which received a record 4.6 million responses – albeit that the vast majority of these came from only one Member State (Germany). However, the auditors also found one public consultation in its sample in which only three people participated. According to the ECA, this illustrates that the Commission needs to improve its outreach activities. The auditors recommend that the EC should better engage with its offices and authorities in the Member States to disseminate more information about consultations and adapt its communication channels to increase the range of potential participants and target any information gaps.
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