In 2019, ECAS transformed its Digital Democracy Focus Area into a new, expanded European Democracy Focus Area. To ensure a comprehensive approach to the topic, the new focus area includes the following three pillars:
- Digital Democracy;
- Understanding Populism;
- Online Disinformation.
In recent years, there have been important societal transformations sweeping through Europe. On the one hand, a new deliberative-collaborative e-democracy model is emerging worldwide. This model can contribute to a more open and inclusive form of policy-making by involving citizens through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). On the other hand, across Europe we are confronted with increasing threats that undermine the foundations and institutions of our democratic societies. There is an urgent need to develop a more precise understanding of these new trends, mainly populism and online disinformation, and how they affect our societies.
For these reasons, ECAS is implementing a European Democracy Agenda with three objectives:
- Digital Democracy – to explore the potential of ICT in reducing the gap between political elites and citizens and contributing to the creation of an engaged citizenship through civic tech;
- Understanding Populism – to develop a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of ‘populism’ in order to take citizens’ voices more into account in our democratic political system;
- Online Disinformation – to understand how to counter online disinformation in order to ensure citizens’ access to quality and objective information as a central element for a healthy public debate.
ECAS also actively supports the implementation of the first transnational instrument of participatory democracy in the EU – the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) – supporting the European Commission in the development and the implementation of European Citizens’ Initiative Forum. The online collaborative platform offers support to citizens when organising an initiative.
In the period 2019 – 2022 ECAS is working to:
- Develop and implement EU projects and services related to European Democracy;
- Advocate for better participatory democracy by exploiting digital technology, at local, national and EU level,
- Improve existing participatory tools, such as the European Citizens Initiative and the EU’s online consultation processes;
- Foster better understanding of populism in Europe through research and trainings;
- Improve citizens’ knowledge on how to access quality information by tackling online disinformation;
- Organise a Digital Democracy Day and an Online Disinformation conference in Brussels as annual events to raise awareness and report on new developments in both areas.
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