EU citizens’ panel inspired by Irish process advocates for expansion of learning abroad

Some 150 citizens from all EU member states have brought forward recommendations for expanding Erasmus-like learning opportunities to different ages and sectors in a panel format inspired by Ireland’s use of citizens’ assemblies.

Among the 21 recommendations from 12 separate groups, one of the more popular suggestions involved urging member states to teach English as a first foreign language.

The recommendation noted that English is established as a “vehicular language” within the EU and is “easy to learn”.

Participants noted that English is already widely spoken and would not contradict a multilingual Europe.

European Commission communication chief Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen acknowledged Ireland's use of the Citizens' Assembly to look at
European Commission communication chief Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen acknowledged Ireland’s use of the Citizens’ Assembly to look at “difficult topics”. File picture:

Another suggestion was the promotion of learning abroad for employees which would involve time off work to learn certain skills in other EU countries.

The recommendation would see employers obliged to allow employees to spend a maximum of six months learning languages ​​or skills related to their profession.

The EU citizens’ panel took inspiration from Ireland’s use of the citizens’ assembly according to the European Commission director general of communication Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ms Ahrenkilde-Hansen said the decision to use panels to inform policy at an EU level looked to Ireland’s experience and use of the format. She said:

The Citizen’s Assembly and indeed the Irish experience has been inspiring for us, both when it comes to how we designed the process for the conference on the future of Europe, and now also for the European citizens’ panel.

A Commission official acknowledged Ireland’s use of citizen assemblies to look at more “difficult topics”, after criticism from one citizen in particular with the subject choices so far.

The panel on learning mobility is the third so far, following food waste and virtual worlds.

The Greek participant noted that countless asylum seekers are dying off European coasts and urged for more “humanistic” issues to be addressed by the use of citizens’ panels and not “obvious” topics such as learning abroad.

The three rounds of European citizens' panels so far have examined the topics of food waste, virtual worlds, and learning mobility abroad.  File picture:
The three rounds of European citizens’ panels so far have examined the topics of food waste, virtual worlds, and learning mobility abroad. File picture:

“It’s completely understandable that citizens have thought about which other topics could be important or even more important, we take very good note of that also as we move forward deciding which topics come up next,” said Ms Ahrenkilde-Hansen.

Elliot Moriarty from Dublin was one of the Irish people on the panel which he said can become “heated” at times.

Mr Moriarty believes there is a “disconnect” in Brussels among EU officials who are optimistic despite Europe’s “enormous, intractable problems”. He said:

We’re trying to pretend that Europe is functioning as it should and now we’re just going to improve it with more education, there is a bit of a disconnect.

Randomly selected participants initially began working on the citizen’s panel in February, with three sessions in total, two of which involved weekend trips to Brussels.

The format with the help of interpreters for each session allowed for participants to speak in their native languages ​​with Shauna Hartigan from Galway choosing to speak in Irish at times.

“I don’t really use it that much anymore but I just wanted to throw it in because there’s two other Irish people but they don’t speak it so I kind of felt obliged to get it in,” she said.

Denial of responsibility! is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.
Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.