Currently, people all over Germany come together in private houses, cafés and parks to discuss European politics, to exchange ideas and to vote on Europe’s future political course. In line with the topic Europe’s response to “America first”, the first round of the so-called HomeParliaments discusses Europe’s foreign policy. More than 501 parliaments have already registered. Willem Flinterman from Pulse of Europe explains what this new project is all about.
In recent years, Pulse of Europe has gathered thousands of people in Europe’s squares, defied Eurosceptics and created space for dialogues. With their new project, in cooperation with Democracy International, the pro-European citizens’ movement is going one step further: The new established HomeParliaments enable an exchange of information in the privacy of one’s home, and especially an exchange with politics. Flinterman describes the projects’ two main aims: “To reduce the gap between Brussels and the citizens” and to “revive Europe”. In these new emerging spaces, European issues can be discussed, opinions exchanged.
Since 27 July, through simply registering on homeparliaments.eu, anyone can become a host of their own HomeParliament. Only a few days after registration, brochures are available for download and arrangements for the HomeParliaments can begin. Each host is asked to invite three to seven people - friends, acquaintances, colleagues or strangers even. Important to keep in mind: A heterogenous group leads to more interesting and controversial discussions. During the HomeParliaments, previously defined questions are to be debated. Therefore, each participant receives materials introducing the issue and securing a balanced argumentation basis before the actual session. A variety of different information brochures supports hosts in the discussion’s moderation, as well as during the preparation and follow-up. At the end, each and every HomeParliamentarian votes on the respective form. The hosts are responsible to compile these votes and send them back to the organizing team.
The HomeParliaments’ results are not restricted to the civil society level only, but also promote open exchange between citizens and politicians. Once the findings have been evaluated, they are forwarded to both, hosts and political decision-makers. At the end of a HomeParliament-round, all participants, hosts, as well as guests, are cordially invited to take part in a concluding event. What makes this event so special: A politician takes stance on the results and enters a dialogue with those present. This direct political reaction to citizens’ input is intended to counter political apathy and bring representatives and those represented, in the matter of European policies, closer together. The responsible politician in this round “America first” is Michael Roth, Member of the German Bundestag and European Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office. The concluding event with Mr. Roth will take place on October 30th in Berlin.
Until the European Elections in May 2019, further discussion rounds are to take place in order to obtain more ideas from European citizens. The project is to constantly develop based on participants’ feedback. Further HomeParliament-rounds are planned for after the elections. At best, the format will spread to other European countries, says Flinterman.
Through the HomeParliaments, more than 800 people have already voiced their opinion. Register here by 19 September 2018 and host a HomeParliament on the subject of EU foreign policy yourself. Your opinion matters!