Policy Design Sprint - Final Report: How Can Parliaments Better Oversee Executive Action During Crises?

By Isotta Ricci Bitti, Chiara Rosselli and Jo Coenen.

This publication came out of a collaboration with the Open European Dialogue.  

In the context of the global pandemic in June 2021, policymakers from six different parliaments across Europe pioneered a completely new approach to cross-border policy design. They agreed to participate in an intensive, multi-session workshop that had them work together and brainstorm on finding solutions to a given topic. The topic challenge that the participants decided to tackle was: “How can parliaments better oversee executive action during crises?”

The Policy Design Sprint format thrives on a small group of dedicated participants who want to find a new way to collaborate on possible solutions to a single policy issue. While they did so, the Apropos and Open European Dialogue teams supported participants by providing expertise, resources, and ad-hoc and continuous research in-between meetings and throughout the whole process.

At the end of three workshops, the participating policymakers had a proposal ready: to ensure democratic oversight in crisis by setting up a parliamentary crisis committee that can work in connection with a citizen’s platform that is swiftly activated in times of crisis and where citizens can make their voice heard.

We are excited to share with you not only the proposal that parliamentarians presented in its two versions, one drafted for policymakers and one specifically tailored to citizens, but also a report that features a step-by-step process of the collaborative process used for the first edition of this collaboration. 

Final report

The COVID-19 pandemic was unique for many reasons – one was how it affected parliaments worldwide. What was a challenge in crisis prevention also became a challenge in democratic oversight, as parliaments could not perform their duties as they normally could. Parliamentarians across Europe felt the need to connect with each other to share ideas and best practices in order to address this shared challenge. Some of the parliamentarians of the Open European Dialogue network got together over a series of calls and expressed their concern and discontent at the way the crisis was being managed, citing they were being effectively side-lined in the decision-making process as the pandemic progressed. 

Our Problem Area 

The challenge to parliaments' inclusion in key decision-making processes came twofold: first, in the allocation of greater executive powers to more specific pandemic response committees which were not always representative of all political forces; and second, in the discontinuation of in-person parliamentary sessions, which limited their ability to remain engaged in day-to-day decisions and contribute to parliamentary debates.

Read the final report here

The Prototype: P^2 Preparation for Participation 

Preparation for Participation: A Toolkit.

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Schermata 2022-01-12 alle 16.03.24


Citizen Presentation: Preparation for Participation Prototype.