Where decisions are made together

By Laura TomassiniGilles Kayser Switch to German for original article

Citizen participation is increasingly becoming the focus of local decision-making processes. How well participation works on the part of the population, where its limits lie and what municipalities still have to learn is currently being tested by several municipalities in the country.

"#mertzig4all – eng Gemeng fir jiddereen" (a municipality for all, ed.) has been the motto of the municipality of Mertzig since 2019. Like other municipalities in the country, it has decided in recent years to let its citizens have their say more often, through the possibility of involvement- citizen participation, as it is commonly called. Within the framework of a LEADER project, short for the EU initiative "Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Economie Rurale", the municipality had itself assessed according to international standards and thus became the first municipality in Luxembourg to receive the certificate of a community of common good.

"We came across the alternative economic model of the common good economy by chance and when I took up my mandate six years ago, we put the project straight into practice, " recalls Mayor Mike Poiré. The principle of the common good is based on several values, each of which puts people at the centre and thus increasingly promotes civic participation. A welcome motto in the rural community, where neighbourhood and togetherness are important in everyday life.

A basis for future projects

While smaller projects had already included approaches to citizen participation, the starting signal for the new participation era was provided by several introductory and ideas workshops between January and September 2020, to which the entire population of Mertzig was invited. "We gathered input from different touch groups on various topics to hear how they see the municipality developing in the future, " says Poiré. Private individuals, companies, associations, municipal staff: they were all allowed to express their wishes at various events and thus actively participate in the future development of their home village.

The results of the workshops have been incorporated into a bilingual, 70-page report, which, divided into 25 chapters, both assesses the current state of Mertzig and provides suggestions for the community's political agenda. With photos of the posters created during the events, a list of existing measures, plans for the future and the evaluation according to the Common Good Matrix, the report not only led to the award of the Common Good Certificate, it should above all serve as a basis for promoting participation in every project in Mertzig from now on.

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