Strengthening civil society and participatory democracy in the EU: the way forward

The conference on Strengthening civil society and participatory democracy in the EU: the way forward will explore how the EU as a whole and Member States individually can work towards effective sustainable civil dialogue and participatory democracy.

In its plenary session on 14-15 February, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on Strengthening civil dialogue and participatory democracy in the EU: a path forward (SOC/782), requested by the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU. In parallel, the EESC's Civil Society Organisations' Group and Civil Society Europe published an open letter, which received the support of 156 signatories from 26 EU Member States. The letter calls on the main EU institutions to take concrete measures to implement open, transparent and regular dialogue with civil society organisations in all policy areas.

The conference will present these two initiatives to institutional stakeholders and a wider audience and reflect on ways to implement the measures. The discussions will be centred around two sets of questions:

  • With the aim of investing in democratic resilience, there has been a surge of interest in more participatory approaches, including the organisation of citizens' panels. What is the path forward for civil dialogue and participatory democracy at large? How can civil dialogue and citizen participation interlink and be mutually reinforcing?
  • Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union calls for EU institutions to maintain open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society. What is needed to effectively structure this dialogue at EU level? What should the next steps be?

The conference will bring together Members of the EESC's Civil Society Organisations' Group, policymakers and civil society organisations. Our guest speakers will include:

  • Pedro Silva Pereira, Vice-President of the European Parliament, responsible for replacing the President, Roberta Metsola, for contact with civil society organisations representing citizens, and
  • His Excellency Willem van de Voorde, Belgian Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Belgium to the EU.

The conference is open to the public. Registration is now closed. You can follow via live webstreaming.


The draft programme is available here. There will be simultaneous interpreting from and into a number of EU languages.

The event will feed into the current and future work of the Civil Society Organisations' Group, including a possible own-initiative opinion.

The subject of civil dialogue and participatory democracy has been the focus of the Group's work on several occasions in recent years, including a Conference on Civil society organisations defending and strengthening European democracy and a seminar on Citizenwashing organised in cooperation with the European Environmental Bureau in 2023.

For further information, please write to: EU-Democracy[at]eesc.europa.eu.

Downloads

Biographies of the speakers