During the period 2009-2010 nearly 17.000 unique internet users visited Citizen's forum. 3 online public consultations with MEPs covering EU policy issues such as Climate change, Unemployment, Violence against Women (etc.) were implemented. 7 on-line public debates covering issues of European elections and performance of the European Parliament were initiated. 634 forum contributions were published by citizens and NGOs and 4 facilitators report from on-line debates and consultations were made. The Slovene MEPs and European elections political parties candidates provided 12 feedbacks to facilitators reports. There are examples of MEPs involving consultation reports into their work at the European parliament or presenting them at the corresponding EP committee sessions as reporters for a specific policy issue.
Since the beginning of the Citizen's forum operation in 2006, 9 on-line consultations with Slovene MEPs and 11 on-line discussions have been implemented and more than 1.000 contribution from citizens and NGOs were published. 17 feedback have been provided by MEPs to facilitators reports and to individual questions from citizens.
The on-line Citizen's forum European debates is providing several benefits for citizens and NGOs such as facilitated exchange of opinions and proposals on EU issues, answers & feedbacks from MEPs, transparency of political positions, summary reports on discussion and consultation topics and visibility of MEPs accountable to citizens.
A statement made by MEP Romana Jordan Cizelj using the on-line Citizen's forum European debates: "I would like to thank to all participants in an on-line consultation for willingness and activity to take part in our common efforts for saving our environment, for adjusting to climate changes in for reducing negative effect on environment. /.../ Your views and opinions although sometimes diverse are presenting to MEP as me a valuable source of information and views on further implementation of environmental policy. I am inviting you to continue with your participation." MEP Romana Jordan Cizelj (EPP) available at http://www.evropske-razprave.si/forum/34.html?p=1061#p1061.
The novelty of the Citizen's forum can be described from different aspects. Firstly, the Republic of Slovenia ranked poorly according to the United Nations eParticipation Index in 2005: 46 among 191 nations of the world and 15 among EU-27 (behind the majority of the new member states). This poor ranking was partially due to previously unsuccessful on-line forums attempts by Slovenian government and local communities. From this perspective, the Citizen's forum brings very much needed experience and recognition of on-line forums as a tool for strengthening democratic participation in Slovenia. As result from on-line Citizen's forum success, Slovenian government followed Estonian example "Today I decide" (http://www.epractice.eu/en/cases/osaleawards) with "My.suggestion.gov.si" (http://www.epractice.eu/en/news/292843) and consequently improved its United Nations eParticipation Index in 2010 by becoming 20th most developed e-participation UN country in the world.
Secondly, from the conceptual point of view the forum represents a successful attempt to provide new deliberative elements in decision-making and increased participation at national and European level.
Thirdly, the e-inclusion and e-accessibility aspects. The possibility to involve all Slovene citizens in the forum's consultation process has involved a lot of effort. Therefore in order to engage less skilful internet users, the publishing procedure is quite simple and registration is not mandatory. In addition, ePoints with forum facilitators are occasionally created to involve citizens without internet access. Combining both kind of on-line and off-line participation represents a novelty in the Slovene political conditions, values and culture.
Finally, the Citizen's forum constitutes a turning point for eDemocracy/ eParticipation initiatives in Slovenia in terms of the valuable experience and confidence gained by non-governmental organizations. As result Institute for Electronic Participation (INePA) is recognized among key eParticipation developments actor in the EU (European eParticipation study 2009) and as a front runner of e-democracy practices in Slovenia (http://pep-net.eu/blog/2010/04/15/civil-society-as-a-frontrunner-in-e-democracy-developments-in-slovenia/).