EuroPolis: A Deliberative Polity-making Project
EuroPolis explored the forms of democratic deficit that are directly affecting EU citizens. It tests the hypothesis that citizen involvement in inclusive, informed, and thoughtful deliberation about the EU increases access to politically relevant information, citizens' political engagement in EU public affairs, perceptions of the legitimacy of EU institutions, a sense of belonging to the EU, and voter turnout in EU parliamentary elections. We draw our hypothesis from the theory of deliberative democracy that suggests that democratic legitimacy rests on open deliberation, and prescribes that citizens should become involved in politics. EuroPolis assess the political outcomes of deliberative democratic practices by experimenting what would happen if EU citizens became substantially more informed about EU institutional arrangements, decision-making processes, and policy issues, as well as more aware of the policy preferences of other EU citizens. The project showed that substantive and informed pan European deliberation is possible among ordinary citizens (at least in a quasi-experimental situation as the one created by the project). Second it showed coherent connections between policy attitudes and electoral choices When Europeans deliberate together they become more informed, more open to the views of others, more willing to subscribe to policy alternatives that may require substantial short term sacrifices (as in the climate change discussion) and more greatly identified as Europeans rather than just citizens of their own countries. Euro Polis shows what the European project could evolve into, if the barriers of language and nationality are overcome. More specifically, it shows that EU citizens are capable of dealing with complex issues on a pan European scale.