In 2013 the European Economic and Social Committee’s Permanent Study Group on the Transport White Paper commissioned IFOK with drawing up a study on civil society involvement in European transport policies and projects. The aim of the study is to identify existing good practices in the field and, building on their assessment, to develop possible approaches for the EESC by which it can contribute to more participatory decision-making. Additionally, the study identifies a possible process for the development of a set of guidelines on civil society’s and citizens’ involvement in European transport policy and projects.
The study draws both on research and interviews conducted specifically for it, and on IFOK’s wide-ranging expertise and long-standing experience in the design and implementation of tailored participative, deliberative and consultative processes. It is intended for policy and decision-makers, and civil society representatives, both within and beyond the EESC. As such it has been written from a user’s perspective, focussed on providing practical and actionable insights and expertise.
The four case studies spotlight some of the wealth of different methods available for involving citizens and civil society in transport projects and policies. Importantly, they highlight eight lessons learned. Most notable amongst them is the value of an early and substantive involvement of all relevant stakeholders, the centrality of transparency and active communication about the process and its outcomes, and the essentiality of ensuring the process has an impact.
In the toolbox of approaches for effective participatory decision-making, five tailored possible approaches for the involvement of citizens and civil society have been developed for the EESC. The range from low-hanging fruits – easy and quick wins for greater civil society involvement in the EESC’s work – to more ambitious processes, or ones specifically tailored for certain policy fields. All highlight the central role of the EESC in bringing in civil society’s voice into European policy and decision-making, and show how this can be done in an even more collaborative manner.
The concept put forward for the development of a set of guidelines for civil society and citizen involvement in European transport policies and projects makes use of the learning and expertise captured in the study. It highlights how the benefits of deliberation and participation can be captured by the EESC as it works to establish a more cooperative decision-making in Europe.