European Democracy Group kicks off with discussion on citizen participation
On 12 December, Carnegie Europe and the European Movement International convened the first meeting of the European Democracy Group in Brussels. The Group, which consists of 25-30 key analysts, civil society representatives, funders, policy-makers, and media, met to discuss ideas for a more participative process of EU reform and more effective EU communication, with a view to improving the quality and future of democracy in the European Union.
This first meeting focused on citizen participation, with kick-off remarks by Alberto Alemanno, author of Lobbying for Change, Claudia Chwalisz, author of The People’s Verdict, and Richard Youngs, author of Europe Reset. The discussion centered on the engagement of citizens in decision-making between elections in Europe.
Participants explored cases of civic engagement around Europe and the world – from citizen lobbying to long-term deliberative processes with randomly-selected citizens. Group members raised and debated relevant issues such as gender representation, conservative civil society and euro-skepticism, the financing of citizen engagement, the trust deficit between citizens and their governments, the role of European political parties, the relevance of representative civil society organisations, and the potential for new forms of deliberative democracy.
How do we improve democratic participation in the EU. @EMInternational & @Carnegie_Europe discussion series kicks off, full room of NGOs, activists, academics, campaigners from across Europe share ideas about how to strengthen our democracy. pic.twitter.com/hgcHNOo7xg
— Petros Fassoulas (@PetrosFassoulas) December 12, 2017
Group members discussed ideas for bringing together different forms of citizen engagement and establishing space for democracy at the local, national, and EU levels, exploring the concept of citizen participation as a response to political dysfunction, or for enhancing input to key policy areas, such as foreign policy. The discussion itself brought up new topics, doubts and questions, which can serve as food for thought for future meetings of the European Democracy Group.
The Group will meet regularly over the next two years, to feature various guest speakers on different questions related to enhancing citizen participation in European integration and improving the future of democracy in Europe.
This meeting was co-organised by Carnegie Europe and the European Movement International, and made possible thanks to support by the Warwick University Impact Fund.