Essex team to explore new forms of citizen participation in Europe

  • Date

    Tue 19 Mar 24

Sign in white and red reading 'power to the people'

An interdisciplinary team of academics from the University of Essex have been awarded £750,000 of funding to explore the creation of European citizens’ assemblies.

Researchers from Essex Law School and Essex Business School will be working with universities around the world on the project, Creating an Inclusive European Citizens’ Assembly (EU-CIEMBLY).

Funded by Horizon Europe, through Innovate UK, the project addresses the need for new forms of citizens’ participation and deliberation across – and beyond – the European Union.

The Essex team has extensive experience in conducting research on concepts of citizenship, as well as the role of citizens in contributing to legal, political and social change.

It will include Dr Anastasia Karatzia and Dr Niall O’Connor from Essex Law School, and Professor Ileana Steccolini and Dr Rebecca Warren from Essex Business School.

Dr O’Connor said: “The particular focus of the project is on assessing existing participatory mechanisms notably citizens’ assemblies, from an intersectional equality lens and with the eventual aim of proposing and piloting a prototype EU citizens’ assembly that exhibits the characteristics of inclusiveness, deliberation and equality, as assessed from an intersectional perspective.”

The University of Essex’s project team will primarily be involved the evaluation of existing citizens’ assembly models at both national and EU level, as well as the design of a prototype EU citizens’ assembly model that fully takes account of intersectional equality issues in its design, delivery and implementation.

Professor Steccolini added: “This ground-breaking project goes beyond traditional perspectives, championing inclusive, intersectional approaches to citizens’ participation in public deliberations.

“By placing citizens’ experience at the core, and mobilising an impressive interdisciplinary team, this project will contribute to enhancing citizen empowerment and fostering societal cohesion.”

The project consortium, which features institutes from across Europe as well as New Zealand and South Africa, held its first meeting in February at the Colégio da Trindade, University of Coimbra and the project will run for four years until January 2028.

If you would like to learn more about the University of Essex’s involvement in the EU-CIEMBLY project, please get in touch with Dr O’Connor at