EU Democracy Reform Observatory

Insights, in-depth analysis, Ideas Papers News Comments Conversations Recommendations

The future of democracy and democratic reform in Europe

About Us

The EU Democracy Reform Observatory is a joint initiative by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the European Policy Centre, and the King Baudouin Foundation, which aims to foster debate and discussion on modernising European democracy. In a context both set and shaped by the Conference on the Future of Europe and the watershed moment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it will provide recommendations on how to make democracy and decision-making more legitimate, participatory, and effective in the EU.


Dr. Dominik Hierlemann

Bertelsmann Stiftung
Senior Expert


European Policy Centre
Deputy Chief Executive & Director of Studies



Analysis, Insights, and Recommendations

How we modernise democracy in the EU? What is the state and prospects of participatory democracy in this context? How can representative and participatory democracy work together? How can we make the best out of the results of the Conference on the Future of Europe? Is there any room and appetite to reform the EU treaties? With our publications, we seek to spark and shape ideas about modernising European democracy through in-depth and outside-of-the-box research, analysis, debate, and policy discussion.  

Adding Ambition to Europe’s Unity

The war in Ukraine has shown that only by acting together can the European Union hope to remain an effective player. At the June 23-24 EU summit, the European Council should agree to establish a “Wise Wo|men Group” tasked with identifying core policy priorities and governance reforms. In this Open Letter, members of the Conference Observatory's High-Level Advisory Group put forward a proposal for such a Group, with recommendations on how the EU 27 should respond to today’s transformative times by paving the way for an ambitious joint future.
Original Source

Download Paper »

The Conference on the Future of Europe: From citizens’ recommendations to EU policy

On 29 and 30 April, the final Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) adopted its conclusions in 9 subject areas, consisting of 49 proposals and countless affixed measures. They are the culmination of an entire year of European Citizens’ Panels; plenary sessions; and local, regional and national events and engagement on the multilingual digital platform. By all the different means available in the Conference context, people from all over the EU have weighed in on crucial policy questions, including climate change, democracy, digitalisation, foreign affairs, migration and well-being. Citizens, alongside politicians and other stakeholders, were able to express their ideas about how the Union should deal with current and future challenges.

Download Paper »

After the Conference on the Future of Europe – Moving into a new era

Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine is a watershed moment for Europe, challenging many of our fundamental assumptions. When the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) comes to an end on 9 May, EU institutions must not only decide on the follow-up to this exercise but, more fundamentally, give direction to the future of the European project. It will require more than just a few well-intended Sunday speeches. The multiple consequences of the new era we live in have increased the urgency of policy reforms as well as institutional innovations in different areas. But the exact direction of travel is clearer in some areas (e.g. energy independence from Russia) than in others (e.g. future of EU defence or democratic reform).

Download Paper »

EventS & Multimedia

Past and future events, Conference Conversations, Reflections

In our interactive event series, ‘Democracy Reform Conversations’, our experts talk with high-level guests about how to make democracy and decision-making more legitimate, participatory, and effective in Europe. Find out about our upcoming events here.