The platform of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFE) was launched on 19 April. Citizens' contributions posted on the platform will feed into the citizens' panels to be held in autumn 2021. To contribute, you can support, comment and submit a contribution, but also participate or even organise an event related to the Conference. This article describes how to submit an idea and reference an event on the platform step by step.
How to register on the platform?
There are several ways to register to participate on the CoFE platform:
Electronic Identification ("eID") allows registration using one's identity card. This solution is available for 17 countries. It should be noted that France is not on the list of these countries;
Authentication via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google;
Creating an account on the platform with an email address and a password through EU Login.
Additional information is requested when registering on the platform. You can choose to provide demographic data (gender, age, nationality, country of residence, city, socio-professional category) and whether you have already attended a public event on the European Union. This information will allow us to better process all the contributions submitted to the platform.
Finally, you must accept the platform's General Terms and Conditions of Participation to validate your registration.
What is the structure of the CoFE platform?
The platform is structured around the 10 themes of the Future of Europe Conference. Each theme is broken down into two elements: ideas and events.
To contribute to the Conference, you need to go to one of these 10 themes. They are organised in different categories. For example, the European Democracy theme contains the following categories
Each theme page is constructed as follows:
An introduction describing the political context and some resources on EU initiatives on this topic.
The list of ideas where you are invited to express your opinion by supporting, commenting and making a contribution.
Past and future events organised in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Users can activate the automatic translation of all content available on the platform. This integration of Decidim with the European Commission's translation system is one of the major innovations of the platform, allowing the creation of a space for public debate on a European scale.
In addition, it is possible not only to share the contributions on social networks but also to embed them on a website in order to gather a maximum of contributions.
How to submit a contribution?
The platform allows anyone to submit a contribution. All the citizens' contributions submitted on the platform will be analysed using digital and human data processing methods. The summaries will feed into the European citizens' panels and plenary sessions.
First of all, you have to define the language of your contribution, its title and describe your contribution in the body section.
The next step is to compare your contribution with others already submitted to avoid duplication and to encourage engagement with other contributions.
Finally, you can add an image or a document as an attachment to support your idea. This feature allows you to better argue an idea and to reinforce its attractiveness! It would be a pity to do without it...
It is possible to change your proposal within 15 minutes if no one supports it. It is therefore not possible to change a proposal once someone has given their support.
Furthermore, you cannot delete your contribution once it has been published. You have to contact the moderation team to hide a contribution by providing a justification.
How to create an event in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFE)?
To organise an event, you also need to go to one of the 10 themes of the CoFE. The button to create an event is located below the interactive map and just above the list of events.
To create an event, simply enter a title, description, address, location (room name or videoconference link), start and end time and registration type. It is also possible to indicate the means of access in Venue suggestions and to arrange the event in one of the categories of the theme.
Furthermore, theplatform does not manage registrations. You must indicate in the heading Type of registration either :
that the event does not have a registration system. You must select Registration disabled.
It isalso not possible to delete an event. To remove a contribution from the platform, you must contact the moderation team to request that the event be hidden.
How to link a contribution to an event?
At the end of the event, the organiser of the event can, for example, indicate a report, the list of organisations, the number of participants and associate one or more proposals that emerged during the event. The organiser can insert these elements at the end of the event.
The organiser can close an event once the end date has passed. The button is automatically displayed for the organiser on the event page.
When the event is closed, a form is displayed. It allows you to insert the deliverables of the event such as a report, the list of speakers, the number of participants, etc.
This feature allows you to document a civil society event afterwards and to value the contributions made during the event. In the last field of the form, you can select the proposals that emerged during the event. You can also show your support for ideas submitted by other participants
How to comment on contributions?
Participants can comment on and discuss the ideas and events already on the platform.
Comments can be qualified as "For" or "Against", it is possible to reply to comments already made and to rate comments already published. You can also mention another user of the platform using @userName to invite them to join the conversation.
The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) platform is constantly evolving. We will regularly update you on new features developed from this blog. In the meantime, you can read this blog post on the genesis and deployment of the platform.
Decidim, the European-wide platform for citizen participation
This article on Decidim (citizen participation platform) is based on a series of conversations we had with Pablo Aragon, Xabier Barandiaran, Josep Jaume and many other contributors to the open source project Decidim.
Invited in April 2017 to the event "Gouverner la ville autrement" organised by Grand Lyon and Le Monde, we met Francesca Bria, Head of Innovation of the Barcelona municipality, and discovered at the same time their new platform Decidim: an open source framework for digital citizen participation.
Where does the Decidim citizen participation platform come from?
The platform was launched in February 2017, a few months after the new municipality took office. The election of Barcelona en Comù's candidates to the city council came about in part throughthe identification of ultra-localized issues - Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, was herself a co-founder of the Platform of Victims of Mortgage Credit(Plataforma d'Afectats per la Hipoteca), an association created in response to the Spanish housing crisis. Anchored in local solutions, the City Council also had to think about the wider scale of the city and its surroundings from the outset: the different cities in the Catalan agglomeration had to be able to use dedicated and autonomous participation spaces on Decidim.
One of the main points of Barcelona en Comù's candidacy was its affiliation with the Indignant movement, and the adoption of the latter's demand for open democracy. This demand, which was directed against the practices of the Spanish political class as a whole, fed the reflection on the adoption of a digital platform that would facilitate the participation of all in municipal decision-making.
The need to multiply the points of view, in other words the need for inclusion, was thus expressed in the elaboration of the participatory process for the construction of the Action Plan of the city and the agglomeration. The people involved felt that a digital platform was necessary, and that it was important to use open source technology for this process in order to guarantee transparency and mutualisation. Initially, they thought of adapting the technology of the platformecide.madrid, Consul. Very quickly, the project team realised the difficulty of adapting the tool to the needs of the city of Barcelona, whose functionalities had been designed in the specific political context described above.
The same was true for the few other available tools, relatively few in number, which were studied before the construction of the Decidim citizen participation platform: thegov.uk e-petitions platform (United Kingdom), Your Priorities (Iceland), Open Irekia (Basque Country). The technical environment of the future tool was thus rather poor, and none of these platforms fully met the needs of the daily management of local institutions.
This multifactorial context led the new Barcelona City Council directly to the need to create a flexible tool. Its multiple configuration options would allow administrators to ensure that the participation features could be adapted to specific local needs. The modularity of the platform would therefore allow the platform to be used in extremely different contexts, from ultra-localized scales to the entire agglomeration and beyond, which required extremely advanced configuration possibilities for the platform.
The city of Barcelona then invested several hundred thousand euros in the development of Decidim. At the same time, the awarding of public contracts was evolving, which allowed the city to choose a consortium of several Barcelona SMEs at the cutting edge of innovation in the field of web development. From the outset, this public order was designed to avoid dependence on a single service provider: the contract was divided into several lots and an ecosystem of three or four companies shared the functionalities to be developed according to their preferred field. Within a few months, the first version of the software was released and several thousand citizens participated in the co-construction of the municipal action plan.
As one of the leaders of the project presented in an interview, the main objective of the development of Decidim was to build a tool that centralises numerous functionalities making multiple citizen participation in city policy possible. According to him, more than allowing a 'simple' participatory budget, it was necessary to allow discussion between residents on the widest possible range of subjects related to municipal policy. Thus, the city needed a tool that was halfway between a platform focused exclusively on technical and efficient decision-making and a social (and political) network. Decidim achieves this hybridity and sets itself up as a counter-model to the large American platforms by providing open source code and a structure that guarantees user privacy, transparency and independence from private structures. The team in charge of the project also wants the platform to establish, intrinsically to the code, respect for individual digital rights and equality [see the article on Decidim's social contract].
In addition to Barcelona, Decidim has been deployed in a dozen municipalities in Spain, and is about to be used more widely across Europe (Turin, Helsinki, etc.) and in national institutions (Federal State of Belgium). These institutions are part of a movement where sharing experience, inclusion, collaboration, transparency, pooling of resources and respect for personal data are at the heart of the construction of a digital participatory democracy.
This expansion of the use of the tool at the European level is one of Decidim's crucial projects in order to gather an ever-increasing number of experiences and thus potential developments of the platform. The new functionalities planned (and already financed) will therefore allow Decidim to become the reference platform for participatory democracy in Europe.
Since last summer, Open Source Politics has adapted the software to French-speaking needs. We have deployed it for several French institutions, including the Angers town hall, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and the Commission Nationale du Débat Public. Open Source Politics is now an official partner of Decidim and is highly motivated to participate in its development and adoption in France and Europe.
1] Pablo Aragon is a researcher at Pompeu Fabra University and Xabier Barandiaran is a professor of philosophy at the University of the Basque Country. Josep Jaume Rey is co-founder of the computer development company Codegram, which is involved in the code of the Decidim platform.