Did EU know? is our series on the European Union, its institutions and processes, and their jargon. You may find the other articles here
We, in the EDF secretariat, are often guilty of writing in “EU speak” or “jargon”. This may be useful for our day-to-day work in Brussels but does not mean much to people outside our bubble. Therefore we decided to start a new series of articles in Members’ Mailing to each week explain one of those special EU-words or how certain procedures work.
This week, we will start with the EU’s Open Consultations.
An open consultation is the way the EU asks for the views of citizens and other interested organisations, companies, or networks. They usually concern new EU rules and initiatives but they can also be about existing ones. They can be on any topic from aviation safety to deep-sea fishing or chemical substances. Currently there are 1179 open consultations on-going!
Consultations are part of the law-making procedure and are obligatory to conduct, even though the EU institutions are not forced to act upon the views expressed in the consultations. They are, after all, the opinions of outsiders.However, it is an important tool to express our views “officially” and to be “on the record”. The sheer number of replies on a certain initiative can for example indicate if there is a strong interest or if the initiative is considered less important.
A good example is the current consultation on the evaluation of the European Disability Strategy. It is important to reply to tell the EU what we think was good and what was bad with the Strategy so we can ask for a better one.
All consultations can be found online but replies can also be given offline in writing to the responsible service. Another advantage is that the consultations are usually translated into all EU languages and you can also reply in your language. Often, a meeting in person with the key parties that are interested is also organised in Brussels. For important consultations such as the one on the European Disability Strategy, EDF will of course also prepare a reply. For most of the 1178 other consultations we are less concerned even though all are important topics that concern us also as citizens.
So, here are the main points about EU Consultations summarized:
- they are an obligatory part of the EU decision-making procedure
- they are important because they can influence how tomorrow’s laws and initiative will look like
- Besides technical expertise, it is also important to show that many parties are interested
- they are not only for organisations, individual citizens can also reply!
- You can reply in your own language!
Why don’t you try it and answer the consultation on the Disability Strategy today?