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How to strengthen participatory democracy in the decision-making process

21 November 2023

Variety, Consistency, Impact

On 17 November 2023, our Executive Director, Assya Kavrakova, was a keynote speaker at an event in Madrid organised by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Spanish Economic and Social Council.

Participatory democracy is the key ingredient for strengthening representative democracy as it allows citizens to make their voices heard in-between elections.

In order to strengthen our participatory democracy EU-wide, we need to ensure:

1)     Knowledge and skills to use variety of tools and methods of participatory democracy: one size fits all approach does not work as we have very different and diverse societal groups to engage. The methods applied need to be fit for purpose for the group they aim at engaging. Examples: EU consultations, citizen panels, crowdsourcing legislation, participatory budgeting.

2)     Consistency throughout the EU – obligatory minimum standards of consultations at national level. At present national level participatory democracy practice is highly dependent on the democratic culture of the Member State and of the political willingness of those in power (examples: Conference on the Future of Europe deliberations at national level).

3)     Impact: effective participatory democracy is based on thrust which goes both ways. Decision-makers should trust the added value of participatory democracy to policymaking and citizens/civil society should trust that politicians take their contributions seriously and act on them.