The European Commission's framework for consulting the public during the development and evaluation of EU laws and policies is of a high standard, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors. The performance of selected recent public consultations by the Commission has been satisfactory overall, say the auditors. However, they recommend that the Commission improve the way it reaches out to citizens to promote greater participation. In addition, it needs to better monitor and assess their contributions to protect against manipulation of results, they say.
The Commission consults citizens and stakeholders in all areas of EU action and throughout the policy cycle. They can also share their views at any stage from the initiation to the evaluation of EU policies through its “Have Your Say" portal. The Commission conducts over 100 public consultations a year.
The auditors assessed whether the Commission's public consultations were effective at reaching out to citizens and stakeholders and making use of their contributions. They examined a selection of recent online consultations, including on seasonal clock changes, migration measures and agricultural policy. The auditors also conducted a perception survey to find out how satisfied participants in consultations actually were.
“Citizen engagement in public consultations is key to maintaining the EU's democratic legitimacy and achieving high-quality laws and policies," said Annemie Turtelboom, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “The Commission should do more to achieve the goal of public participation with the best possible level of outreach to citizens and inform participants about the outcome of the public consultations."