Tech Policy Roundtable Recap: The Importance of Civic Tech for Citizen Engagement

The Alliance organised its fourth Tech Policy Roundtable ‘EU Decision Making: Digital Tools for Citizen Engagement’ on 25th May,  which focused on Civic Tech. The roundtable took place in the European Parliament and was co-hosted by two S&D MEPs, Catherine Stihler and Victor Negrescu.

From left to right: Peteris Zilgalvis, Ruud Wassen, Catriona Meehan, Victor Negrescu, Catherine Stihler, Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, Charlotte Norlund-Matthiessen and Miquel Català.

From left to right: Peteris Zilgalvis, Ruud Wassen, Catriona Meehan, Victor Negrescu, Catherine Stihler, Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, Charlotte Norlund-Matthiessen and Miquel Català.

Over 50 guests attended the lunch debate and speakers included the European Commission, MEPs and entrepreneurs. The civic tech related topics discussed at the roundtable were the characteristics of the current civic engagement landscape, how EU institutions are becoming more transparent and open to citizens and also the tools upon which society use to understand and participate in the decision-making processes.

Alongside our co-hosts, the speakers at the roundtable were:

·       Catriona Meehan – Application Developers Alliance

·       Miquel Català – Co-Founder of mepvote.eu and consiliumvote.eu

·       Peteris Zilgalvis – Head of Unit eHealth and Wellbeing, DG CNECT

·       Charlotte Norlund-Matthiessen – Co-founder of Clicknsign

·       Ruud Wassen – Co-Founder of thewonk.eu

Different tools, like newsfeeds, open platforms, open data and social media contribute to bringing Europe online, in addition to making the EU institutions more transparent. However, it is through apps that citizens are actively engaging with the European Institutions. The speakers and audience were in agreement that going mobile grants European citizens access to a wide stream of information which is immediately accessible and available in a user-friendly format.

Miquel Català, Co-Founder of mepvote.eu and consiliumvote.eu

Miquel Català, Co-Founder of mepvote.eu and consiliumvote.eu

A key policy takeaway from the Tech Policy Roundtable was that the EU should take steps to provide further support for tech startups. Support could be given by improving and bolstering the funding opportunities available, providing regulatory support for startups and developers working in the civic tech sector and also enhancing collaboration between the private and the public sectors.

Catriona Meehan, Director of EU Policy, said that Apps Alliance will “encourage policy makers to create a favourable regulatory and investment environment for digital entrepreneurs. It will improve creativity and lead to the development of the best and most useful Citizen Technologies and Digital Tools”. 

MEP Chats

At the end of the event we caught up with policy makers, to talk about civic tech in greater detail.

Victor Negrescu MEP, S&D

Victor Negrescu stated that digital tools are extremely important for enhancing citizen engagement. Today, politicians can talk directly to their constituencies and therefore citizens benefit from a more effective and direct democracy. In his opinion, a support plan including funds and concrete action by the EU is the best and most workable strategy that will allow the civic tech sector to flourish and grow.

Catherine Stihler MEP, S&D

While discussing her personal civic tech project (the app YES2EU), Catherine Stihler MEP called on all politicians to explore the digital tools sector and code their own info apps. Catherine Stihler believes that apps are really important and with the app economy growing exponentially, apps are undoubtedly now considered to be solid enablers for citizens.

Brando Benifei MEP, S&D

Brando Benifei spoke about civic tech startuppers in the Digital Single Market (DSM): “if we work to create a real DSM (…) we can help young entrepreneurs to work in this field “by opening new business opportunities”.  

Missed the event? Watch our compilation video from the Tech Policy Roundtable that includes interviews with Doru Frantescu, Director of VoteWatch, Miquel Català, founder of mepvote.eu and consiliumvote.eu and Ruud Wassen, Founder of thewonk.eu.

 

Claudia Trivilino

Policy Manager, EU