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Florence School of Transnational Governance

Democratic Odyssey and 40 other organisations call for EU democratic innovation

In a joint effort, forty-one organizations, including the Democratic Odyssey, have penned an open letter urging the European Commission, Parliament, Council, and Belgian Presidency to prioritize democratic innovation and citizen engagement within the European Union (EU).

25 March 2024


At the forefront of this initiative is a call for the integration of deliberative democratic methods, such as Citizens' Assemblies, to bridge the gap between citizens and policymakers. This comes at a critical juncture as antidemocratic forces rise, and disengagement among citizens grows.

The signatories emphasize the need for a clear vision from EU institutions regarding the use of citizen deliberation processes. They advocate for setting clear objectives for integrating citizen deliberation into European policy processes, ensuring high-quality standards and evaluation criteria to prevent these processes from being exploited for "citizen washing" purposes.

Furthermore, the letter encourages the structural integration of deliberative Citizens' Assemblies within EU political processes. While acknowledging past efforts, such as the organization of the Conference on the Future of Europe (COFEU) and subsequent Citizens' Assemblies, the signatories call for a bolder approach. They propose inviting citizens to deliberate on highly contentious issues like migration, agriculture, and foreign policies, citing successful examples from countries like Ireland and France.

To institutionalize deliberative processes, the letter suggests establishing a permanent Citizens' Assembly with a clear mandate. Additionally, it recommends the creation of a horizontal Directorate-General or unit within the Commission to coordinate citizen participation and deliberation efforts.

Lastly, the letter underscores the importance of creating inclusive and rigorous deliberation processes in all Member States. It calls for investments in initiatives to build deliberative capacity among civil servants, politicians, and project managers at both EU-wide and Member State levels.

With the letter, the signatories assert that fortifying European democracies and ensuring their evolution to better represent the people they serve are imperative steps in safeguarding democratic values within the EU.

Read the letter here.

Last update: 25 March 2024

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