The European Commission has created a new web portal to make it easier for European citizens to make their voices heard in EU policy making. The new 'Your Voice in Europe' portal http://europa.eu.int/yourvoice replaces the previous version of the site with a one-stop shop in all eleven EU languages allowing citizens, businesses and all other stakeholders to tell the Commission what they think about new policy initiatives. The results of consultations will be available through the portal as soon as they are closed, so that as well as giving their own opinions, users of the site will be able to see what others have said and subsequently see how the Commission has taken this into account when new policy proposals are published. This will contribute to more transparency and accountability in the EU's policy-making process. The development of a single access point for public consultations is part of the implementation of the 'General principles and minimum standards for consultation' (IP/02/1865) recently adopted by the Commission.
Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said: "We need to listen closely to the businesses and citizens who are affected by our policies. By keeping our ear to the ground, we help ensure that our new policy initiatives have a solid basis. The Commission has always sought out a wide range of views in developing its policies. But in an increasingly busy world, we need to use new technologies to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to tell us what they think. The 'Your Voice in Europe' portal will be an enormous asset in doing that."
The 'Your Voice in Europe' web portal gives access to the Commission's public consultations covering all EU policies. Citizens, businesses and all other interested parties can choose a consultation in a particular area, such as 'Internal Market' or 'General and Institutional Affairs'. They can then participate directly, for example by sending comments or filling in on-line questionnaires. Once a consultation is closed, the results and associated follow-up action are made publicly available.
'Your Voice in Europe' also gives access to a variety of other participatory tools. Stakeholders can have their say in debates on the European Union and its future, discuss issues directly with leading figures and exchange views with other citizens interested in the same topics.
For those who need support to make their voice heard, the site gives access to those organisations best placed to assist: businesses can contact their Euro Info Centre for information, advice and assistance on all EU matters, citizens can contact the Citizens Signpost Service for advice on how to make full use of their rights as EU citizens and consumers can contact a European Consumer Centre. These networks not only help citizens and business to overcome practical problems but also give the Commission invaluable feedback on how policies work in practice.
The existing 'Your Voice in Europe' web portal, which is part of the Interactive Policy Making initiative (IP/01/519), has proved extremely popular, having been used by over 3 million citizens, not only from Member States but also from candidate countries and beyond, since its launch in October 2001.
'Your Voice in Europe': http://europa.eu.int/yourvoice