Citizens' advisory group in Lisbon
The Citizens’ Advisory Group in Portugal took place on the 22nd of February 2014 in Lisbon. The discussion amongst the participants was lively from the start. Independently of the strategic options, there was a general positive feeling about the usefulness of these discussions. This was due to the general perception that decisions at EU level and by the Portuguese government on European issues are insufficiently transparent, closed to democratic scrutiny and unresponsive to the people's actual problems and wishes. Therefore, several participants also demonstrated an interest in follow-ups to this discussion.
A majority of citizens preferred Strategic Option 4 ("Leaping Forward"), closely followed by options 3 ("Moving ahead ambitiously") and 5 ("Changing the 'More/Less Europe' Logic"). On the one hand, the "Going back to basics" option was seen with concern, given the uncertainties that it implies for the future of the Euro. Therefore, it was rejected by all participants. On the other hand, the "Consolidating past achievements" option was seen as problematic by all, given its insistence on a political and institutional status quo that was largely viewed as responsible for the current turmoil in both the EU and Portugal. Although a majority of participants expressed a preference for option 4, the discussion revealed concerns about its consequences for the preservation of national identity and the equality between member states. This led several citizens to prefer option 3. As for option 5, although it’s deepening of democratic procedures were appreciated by almost all participants, it was pointed out that it fell short of providing short-term operative answers to the political, economic and social crisis of the European Union.