March 20, 2024

Overview of March 20, 2024

The European elections in June 2024 is a milestone for European democracy. Young Europeans drove up the voter turnout in 2019, and the surge in youth participation is likely to be repeated in 2024.
In the fifth edition of Democracy Reform Conversations, the speakers discussed the political and institutional obstacles to citizen-led EU reform. Members of the European Parliament Sandro Gozi, Associate Director and Head of the European Politics and Institutions Programme at EPC Dr. Corina Stratulat, Director of Studies at EPC Janis Emmanouilidis, and Project Manager at Bertelsmann Stiftung Andrey Demidov explored what prevents the EU from taking citizen participation seriously, despite all the achievements and evidence.
The EU needs reform. The Conference on the Future of Europe and European Citizens Panels have demonstrated that citizens can be the driving force behind complex changes the EU must undergo, be it managing the poly-transition, preparing the EU for a potential enlargement to 30+ member states or pushing for the much-needed EU institutional and governance reform. Despite this potential, both EU and national decision-makers seem hesitant to fully leverage citizen participation. Participatory democracy in the EU is hitting an invisible ceiling that can only be broken if politicians and decision-makers at the European and national levels acknowledge and address the root causes blocking development. 
The fourth edition of Democracy Conversations featured the conversation between the Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs Tiago Antunes and two of the Observatory experts – Senior Advisor at Bertelsmann Stiftung Dr. Dominik Hierlemann and Associate Director and Head of the European Politics and Institutions Programme at EPC Dr. Corina Stratulat.
Could integrating the existing instruments of EU citizen participation, such as the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) and European Citizens Panels (ECP), lead to greater citizen engagement, and what practical steps could be taken to achieve this synergy and enhance their impact?
Citizen participation is the instrument that could help the EU to confront ongoing permacrisis. However, EU and national decision-makers refrain from using its promising potential. Our new paper discusses why this is the case and what could be done to break through identified obstacles.