On 2 July, the EU Policy Lab organized a workshop, as a part of The Future of Government 2030+: A Citizen Centric Perspective on New Government Models project. The participatory workshop built on and complemented the already gathered knowledge from the FuturGov project. The goal of the workshop was to provide an in-depth analysis of some of the project implications for policies and public administration and identify possible policy priorities and fields of intervention.

We gathered approximately 20 stakeholders from the European Commission, European Economic and Social Council, Committee of the Regions, OECD, local and national authorities, academia, think tanks, civil society organizations and business representatives.

The workshop started with an ice-breaker where participants were asked to imagine how the government will look like in 2030, what will be the relationship between governments and businesses and between governments and citizens. Many interesting ideas were gathered and the initial debate was initiated.

An example of the ice-breaker session output

Participants were, then, asked to look at different policy areas and challenges that the Future of Government project raised in four scenarios of the future, produced through a bottom-up participatory foresight exercise with the citizens in six Member States, and to choose the most important among them. The following areas were chosen:

Democracy; Open government; Political trust; Citizen engagement; Decentralisation; New skills and jobs for public administration; Increased inequalities; Participatory culture; Social capital vs fragmentations; Big data and AI; Computational propaganda; Regulation; Climate change.

Most important policy areas for the FuturGov according to the workshop participants

Then, we created four tables, each representing one scenario. We asked them to think: What policy areas would you focus on today to reach more desirable elements and avoid less desirable ones of the four scenarios of the future? Based on this, each table had to choose the areas relevant for their scenario and think about actions that would be needed. They worked on potential policy interventions, challenges, actors and indicators. Here below we provide an insight into the output for the area of Regulation, which was selected as relevant for Scenarios 1, 2 and 4.

Scenario 1

Regulate the relations between business and government
Introduce more choice
Transparency of lobbying and contracts with business
Inhibit sponsoring from businesses to government  
Strong ethics committee
Challenges Focus on short-term thinking (profit and votes)
Power politics
Collaboration at local and higher levels
Actors All stakeholders
Indicators Higher trust of citizens in government
Quality of regulatory process/ independent measurement

Scenario 2

Strengthening/improving data protection and ownership of data
Real open data
Taxation as accountability
Empowering society through education
Information vs. Facilitation
Challenges Red tape
Political challenges
Actors EU/National governments
Education system
Civil Society Organisations
Indicators Simplification

Scenario 4

Better control of corruption
Better regulation of political parties
Constitutional improvement
Challenges New technologies
Digital innovation hubs
Actors Local and regional authorities
Indicators Create a better democratic system

Based on the input from the previous session, policy recommendations were created. In connection to regulation, ability to get real-time qualitative and quantitative data on policy is needed. A balanced multi-stakeholder based regulatory oversight should be enhanced, awareness of regulatory management is needed as well as developing political literacy and enhancing the consultation process by integrating reality checks such as feedback from citizens, in order to test immediate impact.

New skills for public administration would require clear mission, vision and agile methods of work, in a way that skills are linked to organizational models. The government should engage with civil society and encourage business to invest. A constant re-evaluation of the skills is needed.

The participants suggested that for better citizen engagement, next to education and better equipped administration, a suitable allocation of budget is needed. The engagement could be done both at the EU and national levels, through citizen assemblies and national-based engagements. The review and restructuring of certain political institutions would lead to their redesign into citizen councils, that would serve as a platform to include citizens. Based on their input, recommendations would be made to the European Parliament. A broader citizen responsibility and accountability would be necessary.

Computational propaganda, fake news and influence on public sphere demand clarifying the values unique to the EU in regards to digital ethics, upon which the regulation and the development of EU champions should be achieved. The labels in place for EU-conform ethics should be put forward by 2025. In this context, it is also important to focus on data awareness and data literacy of citizens through the development of curricula for formal education, but also through the public debate. Professional media and literacy are needed to inform the general population in an objective way.

Trust in political institutions could be established through civic education that would implement simulation models and mandatory volunteering in civic and political organizations. New governance mechanisms and more bottom-up approaches in policy making could contribute to this goal. Also, more publicly-funded EU broadcasting channels are needed to contribute to raising trust in the EU institutions. Different models of democracy need to continue to coexist and develop in the future: while political party system and political processes should be restructured, political parties will continue to exist in their traditional form, but more participatory approaches will bring positive contribution and more legitimacy to the representative democracy.

Examples of policy recommendations

The workshop ended with the FuturGov game. The game has been developed by the multidisciplinary team at the EU Policy Lab. It uses people’s anticipatory assumptions about what the future may look like to generate conversations, negotiations and collaborations.

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