A Polish partnership agreement and operational programmes at national level were drafted through public administration and consulted in a process open to anyone. Following a letter from several NGOs (submitted in February 2021) to the Prime Minister, the government agreed to organise public hearings on European Funds prepared by the national administration. Public hearings were live, online events, featuring the participation of administration officials. At the hearing, anyone could share his or her opinion on each of the European Fund’s projects during a four- to five-minute online conversation. Speakers could register prior to the event and were drawn by the organisers. About 40 people spoke at one hearing lasting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hearings were organised in such a way that people with disabilities could also participate. The hearings were organised from April to October 2021. For the most investment-intensive programmes, such as the National Resilience and Recovery Facility, hearings were divided into separate topics. After the adminstration summarised the opinions, inverted public hearings were organised during which the public administration answered recommendations that appeared in the public hearings. The inverted hearings started in October 2021 and lasted until March 2022. Not every opinion was resolved positively, but at least the process was open and fair, and can be considered a good practice.
Roughly EUR 50,000 in public funds were spent to realise these hearings. No EU funds were engaged.
We recommend both online public hearings and inverted public hearings as easy-access public consultation tools in the preparation of European Funds. Such events are to be subject to any pandemic restrictions. Despite the public nature of the events, written opinions should also be welcomed. Administration should also prepare extensive reports from the hearings to answer the concerns of any individual taking part in the consulation.
Public hearings website: https://www.wysluchania-nowaperspektywa.pl/