A study led by Dr Bryony Hoskins at the University of Southampton for the European Commission (EC) has warned of the dangers of concentrating solely on economic policies to create growth in European countries.
report Participatory Citizenship in the European Union funded by a
€274,996 grant from the EC examines how and to what extent, people in
Europe actively take part in society, communities and politics, and
identifies any barriers to this.
Lead researcher from
Southampton, Dr Bryony Hoskins says, “In the current harsh economic
climate across Europe there has been a loss of trust in political
leaders and a move towards more extremist parties. It is important for
people, especially the young and unemployed, to have their voices heard
in the political decision making to mitigate this.
maps the state of play on levels of citizen engagement, and identifies
policies and practices to facilitate this across Europe to help find
effective strategies to encourage people to get involved.”
The research, carried out in collaboration with eight partner institutions in seven European countries1
was based on the analysis of data on current policies and practices
from each of the 27 member states in the European Union (EU), interviews
with key experts, and data from existing European and international
Results have shown that in relation to the economic
crisis and creating growth – participatory citizenship, economic
competitiveness and social cohesion are interrelated and reinforce each
other. The report recommends that strategies are needed to encourage
people to get more involved in communities, politics and decision
making, at both national level in EU countries, and more locally within
The report makes these key recommendations:
To place an emphasis on learning citizenship, both in schools and
outside of school. The study shows people who vote and take an interest
in politics and decision-making are usually engaged in diverse forms of
learning at different levels.
• To target disadvantaged groups
most at risk of unemployment and exclusion and achieve this through
engagement in schools; vocational education or training; and youth work.
The EC should provide long-term strategic and sustainable funding for
projects; non-governmental organisations; and programmes encouraging
participatory citizenship (to counter those being cut due to the
• Encourage collaboration and partnerships
between different types of organisations, such as schools, local
authorities, youth groups, charities and businesses.
the use of new social media to enable wider participation in
decision-making by providing more interactive forums for the exchange of
information between citizens and politicians.
Barriers and key challenges to participatory citizenship were identified as:
• A lack of trust in politicians.
• The challenge of creating a dialogue between politicians and the public.
• A decline in participatory citizenship generally as a policy priority.
• The need to meet the challenges of the globalised economy; climate change; an ageing population; and an enlarged EU.
The findings of the study will be used to help shape European policy and funding programmes, in particular the:
• European Year of Citizens 2013. http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/european-year-of-citizens-2013/index_en.htm
• 2014 – 2020 Europe for Citizens Programme. http://ec.europa.eu/news/justice/111216_en.htm
• 2014 European Parliament elections (and voter turnout).
The full report, Participatory Citizenship in the European Union, can be found on the European Union website at http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/news-events/news/29052012_en.htm