EU Democracy Reform Observatory

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

The future of democracy and democratic reform in Europe

The EU Democracy Reform Observatory is a joint initiative by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the European Policy Centre, the King Baudouin Foundation, and the Stiftung Mercator. Our aim is to foster the debate on modernising European democracy and provide recommendations on how to make democracy and decision-making more legitimate, participatory, and effective in the EU.

Contact

Dominik Hierlemann

Senior Expert

Bertelsmann Stiftung

Janis Emmanouilidis

Deputy Chief Executive & Director of Studies

European Policy Centre

News

Policy Brief 1|2024: The EU’s participatory enlargement

Future enlargement is a historic opportunity for the EU to reform, and not only institutionally. It is also a chance to become a genuine Union of citizens by involving citizens differently, far earlier and more effectively. Our newly published policy brief discusses concrete steps to achieve that. […]

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EU Democracy reform Monitor

Keep track of how EU and national actors follow up on the Conference on the Future of Europe and get a comprehensive overview of recent developments in the field of citizen participation with the help of our EU Democracy Monitor. The Monitor provides an ongoing timeline of democratic reform activities, initiatives and debates across different institutions and actors, spanning from national to EU levels. 

Papers

How do 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 outcomes 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.  

Policy Brief 1|2024: The EU’s participatory enlargement

Future enlargement is a historic opportunity for the EU to reform, and not only institutionally. It is also a chance to become a genuine Union of citizens by involving citizens differently, far earlier and more effectively. Our newly published policy brief discusses concrete steps to achieve that.
30. January 2024

Assessing European citizens panels – greater ambition needed

The Conference on the Future of Europe demonstrated that Citizens’ Panels can function as a working instrument of citizen participation in EU policy-making. The European Commission pushed the idea forward and organised the first European Citizens’ Panels on the topics of food waste, virtual worlds, and learning mobility between December 2022 and May 2023.
In this paper, the EU Democracy Reform Observatory team summarise their observations on how the European Citizens’ Panels worked in practice. We outline a set of recommendations to enhance Panels’ effectiveness and make them a better-functioning tool for involving citizens and ultimately supporting EU democracy.
6. September 2023

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.
21. June 2022

Events & Multimedia

Our interactive event series, ‘Democracy Reform Conversations’, is a continuation of our earlier series, ‘Conference Conversations’, in which 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 previous and upcoming events here.

3rd Online Democracy Reform Conversation

The third edition of Democracy Conversations brought together eminent experts to discuss the biggest challenge currently on the EU agenda – the EU reform. The debate on the EU reform is evolving rapidly, and more and more concrete proposals shape it.

2nd Democracy Reform Conversation

In the second edition of Democracy Conversations we turned to the question what is next for European democracy beyond elections. The European elections 2024, the major milestone and test for the European democracy, is fast approaching.

1st Democracy Reform Conversation

The first edition of Democracy Conversations, a series of interactive online events on topics most crucial for European democracy and its reform, launched the EU Democracy Observatory and discussed the EU's current standing in terms of citizen participation after the first generation of European Citizens Panels on food waste, learning mobility, and virtual worlds completed their work.