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The Big Society and Europe [WP1118]

This meeting was run in partnership with public policy think tank ResPublica, to explore issues raised in the context of the debate over the ‘big society’ in the UK – with related discussions on societal change and sustainable economic development across Europe.

Key points:

  • Our report reflects the discussion that came out of ‘The Big Society and Europe’ meeting which sought to develop the Big Society agenda and identify obstacles to successful implementation. The meeting analysed the political and economic context in which big society debates were taking place, assessing cases of best practice in the United Kingdom and across Europe, as well as shedding light on factors holding back post-communist countries’ service provision development.
  • Widespread agreement that change is needed in the way the public, local and central government engages with service provision was matched by concerns over the image, implementation and agenda behind the Big Society debate. Clear commonalities to emerge with regard to future developments included:
  • The need to re-build trust in the context of a values-based society
  • The importance of encouraging innovative approaches to the provision of public services
  • The central role of the individual, and civic responsibility in fostering sustainable and transparent change
  • ‘Out with the old model of passive recipients, in with the new – direct community engagement.’
  • Transparency as key

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