Germany is taking over the EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2020 and will thus be the first country to take over the presidency after the start of the global corona crisis.

During the presidency, Germany will be in charge of setting the priorities of the EU political agenda at a critical point in time: The long-term consequences of the corona crisis will be felt by all European citizens and the EU has to act jointly if it wants to limit the negative repercussions of the crisis on public health, economy and civic rights. The German government recently decided to put the fight against the pandemia and its consequences at the center of their council presidency.

Normally, these presidencies are accompanied by many events that allow the civil society to contribute to the conversation and to shape the political priorities of the EU. However, this year because of the COVID-19 lockdown, many of the planned events will have to be cancelled. How can we make sure that European civil society can contribute to the upcoming German EU Council Presidency nevertheless?

A situation of crisis with existential threats: for example the cut down of civil rights lead to a growing need to know and to understand more about the EU decisions - and want to be involved.

FEEDBACK.LOOP solves ...

FEEDBACK.LOOP aims to promote and revolutionize the dialogue between political decision-makers and EU citizens, in a situation where it is needed most. Not only under these special circumstances and at the time of limited civil rights, people have the right and an increased need to receive validated information while having the chance to bring their own ideas and competences into the political debate. At the same time ministries and officials are working in crisis mode being restricted to inevitable policies which tends to let civil dialogue fall apart, as several projects on citizen participation were cancelled. This scenario carries the risk that citizens feel not sufficiently involved in the decision-making process and perceive it as intransparent and unclear. However, facing the expected loss of prosperity, this could lead to a decline in support for the European Union and an increased support for populist right-wing parties. Our idea is to overcome this crisis together as active EU citizens within a strong and unified Europe. The virus stopped several projects on citizen participation. Nevertheless in times of crises it is important to hear everyone's voice. Since the political authorities are captured managing the current situation, they don't have the resources to cover these important aspects.

The solution you bring to the table..

Physical distancing doesn’t have to stop the feedback loop between politics and citizens. We offer an online participatory process that allows citizens to give their opinion on current political topics. The central idea comprises a questionnaire that will ask the participant a handful easy questions about a general opinion and their individual background. If the person is not familiar with a topic, easy and understandable information in the language of choice are given. This will provide the EU citizens with a voice and a source of information to fight fake news. The answers and demographs will be automatically evaluated and illustrated for decision making, including key words from free text fields. If policy makers want to get in touch with a specific target group, they can ask the participants of the survey to join an online participation workshop. Hence, the citizens can get involved step-by-step depending if they just have a minute for a survey or a higher enthusiasm to participate. FEEDBACK.LOOP therefore helps to get in touch with policy-makers to open the ‘black box’ of corona crisis policy-making. EU citizens can contribute political problem solving in the corona crisis with their competences, time, and ideas. At the same time we are giving the German EU presidency a platform to connect with EU citizens to test ideas for political measures with different target groups across the EU citizenry. EU authorities can receive feedback on policy initiatives, understand reasons for resistance, and get ideas on how to make it even better. We are convinced that like this, we will get through the crisis - together. With a higher trust into EU politics.

What we have done during the weekend..

We compiled a new interdisciplinary team only partly knowing each other and started an investigation on the environment of european policy from various perspectives. We focused especially on the german presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2020. We used design thinking to crystalize a problem which we further analyzed by interviewing external experts. This helped us to create a deep understanding of the problem context and drove us to a first concept, that we prototyped.

We are a team of 7 and we first met 40 hours ago. During the past two days, we followed a design thinking methodology to define the current shortcoming in political crisis communication, define our target groups in specific personas (Sebastian and Monica), formulate a specific problem statement and draft a straight-forward solution

Sebastian is our key persona, as he is at risk to lose connections with the EU citizens he actually has to represent.

What we will do next

We will move on to facilitate remote citizen participation in times of crises! The questionnaire protype can be quickly implemented. As a next step, we will conduct interviews with representatives from our persona target groups, validate the concept of the prototype, create a landing page and start the initiative!

Hope to see you soon, raising your voice towards Sebastian via FEEDBACK.LOOP!

The solution’s impact to the crisis…

The actions that are needed to slow the epidemic are unprecedented in the history of the EU. As a result personal rights where drastically restricted and an economic crisis was about to rise. FEEDBACK.LOOP helps political decision makers to better understand the severe problems of their citizens to better adapt their strategies. EU citizens can easily raise their voice towards politicians.

SUSTAINABILITY - The value of our solution after the crisis...

Our solution offers a longterm value as it generally supports dialogue between citizens and decision makers (Principal<-> Agent) on policy issues in order to optimize decision making processes while generating transparency and trust

Our solution offers new means and channels for decision makers in order to institutionalize enhanced political participation throughout the rotating EU presidencies.

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