The European Citizens’ Panel (ECP) was a process taking place with citizens from ten European regions. The citizens worked on the future of rural areas in regional panels in 2006 and 2007, and eventually sent representatives from the regional panels to the European panel, which started on March 30th and ended on April 2nd with the handing over of the citizens’ common recommendations to European policy makers.
DIALOGIK is in charge of the external evaluation of the ECP. The objective of this external evaluation is to see whether the ECP process keeps up with standards which are seen as important for similar participatory processes. It will be reported where these standards have been met, where there could be improvements in the methodology or organization if standards have not been met, and suggestions derived from key-learnings of how to shape a process like the ECP next time. In the pursuit of this objective the evaluation will need to consider key decisions and choices in the decision making process. Finally, the evaluation is about whether the ECP initiative has accomplished its objectives. It is important to note, that there is not just the one objective, but different actors involved in such a participatory process might have quite different – and sometimes even conflicting – objectives. These different objectives need to be considered when assessing target achievement. The variety of objectives and the extent to which they have been achieved will be assessed by use of qualitative and quantitative interviews.
The external evaluation of the ECP will be guided by a set of evaluation criteria, which have been derived theoretically and tested empirically in case studies earlier on. They include aspects most important for participatory processes, including the questions of who participates, who decides what, and how decisions are made.