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EUth - Tools and Tips for Digital and Mobile Youth Participation in and across Europe

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Supportive tools for youth democracy

A new platform helps European young people become more politically active.

Digital Economy

European voters are losing faith in politics. Turnout is decreasing, especially at the EU-level. If the federation is to have a future that avoids disintegration, its citizens must become involved. Furthermore, youths are largely suspicious in traditional forms of politics. This age group is among the least politically active but the most difficult to reach. Fifty percent of young Europeans distrust the EU and believe it is going in the wrong direction. eParticipation To strengthen the age group’s trust in European political institutions and increase participation in politics, the EU-funded EUth initiative developed an online participation system. The driving concept is that youths are typically most comfortable with digital tools and these tools could foster youth engagement. They also permit mobility and freedom. Opine on OPIN EUth’s system, called OPIN, is tailored to allow youth organisations to run participation projects. It differs from social media systems by not being commercial plus providing learning material on digital youth participation. Social media also limit functions to liking and commenting, while having very little data protection. For these reasons, youth workers are not allowed to use Facebook. OPIN however prioritises data privacy. It offers commenting, plus tools specialised for online democratic participation, including: brainstorming, agenda-setting, a mapping function that localises issues, proposal ranking, collaborative text-revision, and voting. OPIN furthermore provides tutorials and guidelines for implementing successful participation projects, plus interfaces with offline events. The case of participatory budgeting at an Italian school illustrates how OPIN can work. Students aged 15-19 were given the chance to participate in decision-making and to experience the results. Using OPIN, students first proposed, discussed, and rated ideas; next, the students designed feasible projects; finally, the group voted on options. In the meantime, students used the system to organise many face-to-face activities and information sessions. EUth researchers analysed and reported the experiment. During the online component, a total of 446 students suggested 27 proposals. These yielded 38 comments, almost 1 400 likes and approximately 700 dislikes. A total of 68 participants lodged 52 votes on shortlisted projects. “As a result of knowledge acquired during the programme,” says EUth project leader, Kerstin Franzl, “students played the role of facilitators at a budgeting meeting for the City of Milan.” Tools for organisations The OPIN platform was developed in a co-creation process which was coordinated by a Living Lab. This coordination hub intended to help organisations set up eParticipation projects using OPIN. EUth conducted four pilot programmes, mostly involving youth NGOs that set up projects. The Lab supported the pilot projects in their participation activities, plus helped all participants evaluate the scheme and the OPIN platform. The activitiy additionally collected feedback concerning the platform such as bugs or needed new features. As of April 2018, OPIN included 3 200 registered users from 30 organisations, who collectively created 180 projects and 900 new ideas. Although the EUth project concluded in early 2018, its professionally designed eParticipation tools will remain freely available to the public. The project team is currently looking for sponsors to maintain the platform. Youth groups are encouraged to help Europe’s young people get involved.


EUth, OPIN, tool, youth, European, political, online, Living Lab

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