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The PACITA experience

From the pool of previously conducted TA projects, there are several types of projects and consortia which differ with regard to funding schemes, methods, target groups and project designs. PACITA organized three example projects, aiming to produce relevant policy advice at national, regional and European levels. The projects also aimed at enhancing the capacity of technology assessment in Europe by including both experienced institutions and 'newcomers' in the field of TA. On a more practical side, the projects functioned as an introduction and as training for TA practitioners involved in the PACITA project.

The three example projects took on three of the Lund declaration's 'grand challenges', using different methods and involving different types of actors: While scenario workshops and citizen summits are quite established methods at the European level, it was the first time that the Future Panel was used in a cross-European manner. This 'methodological experiment', together with the two more established methods, has given important

table 5.1 Overview of PACITA example projects

Topic

Method

Involved actors

Personal health genomics The future of ageing Sustainable consumption

Future Panel Scenario workshops Citizen summits

Parliamentarians and experts Stakeholders

Citizens

insights on how to organize successful cross-European TA projects (see Part II of this book).

One of the challenges related to the Future Panel method, was the need for long-term commitment by parliamentarians. Earlier experiences with the Future Panel method on the national level have involved parliamentarians who have been appointed to the Future Panel by their parliament (Krom and Stemerding, 2014). A more direct link to the national parliaments (and not only involvement of individual parliamentarians) makes a clearer mandate for participation in the project, and it will probably make it easier for parliamentarians to commit to the project. The two other example projects had a single national event as the main activity. The activity demanded some preparation by the participants (reading information material or scenarios), but it demanded no long-term commitment to the project.

One might argue that by doing such national events, the crossEuropean element is put in the background. But seeing that both the citizen summit and the scenario workshop had a common European starting point for the discussions, [1] the participants still got the feeling of being part of a European project. Knowing that there are others having the same discussions, following the same method, somewhere else in Europe was acknowledged and appreciated by the participants. In miniature, the deliberative fora that were created within the projects seemed to engender an experience of European citizenship solidly rooted in national communities. The results from these national events were gathered in European synthesis reports, bringing the results from the national to the European level.

In addition to the policy recommendations produced by all three example projects, an important result is the added value for the TA community. Focus on method training gives all of the involved partners a strong foundation to further use these methods also after the end of the PACITA project, and it enhances the capacity of the involved institutions.

  • [1] Information material and short films for the citizen summit, as well as scenarios in the scenario workshops.
 
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