Reports 2016

Citizens first! How to revive democratic participation for a citizens-led Europe

22 April 2016


The gap between citizens and governments is widening, with alarmingly low levels of electoral participation across many EU member states. Widespread lack of trust in national governments and European institutions have pushed citizens further away from traditional parties towards anti-systemic ones and recent scandals such as the Panama Papers have only reinforced mistrust in the political class. Attempts to strengthen citizens’ voices in the EU political arena, such as the European Citizens’ Initiative, have not delivered the desired results. What can be done to reverse this trend? How can citizens be brought back to the centre-stage of policy-making? Can the EU be a trailblazer in promoting more participatory democracy? This conference provided FutureLab Europe representatives Ivo Visak and Simona Pronckutė with the opportunity to present the new FutureLab Europe publication, which analyses the causes of citizen disengagement and disillusion with the EU. The report explores the role of European political culture, technology, direct democracy mechanisms, civic education and transparency in reviving people’s participation in and enthusiasm for the European project. Visak and Pronckutė then engaged in a debate with Antonio Silva Mendes,Director for Youth and Sport, DG Education and Culture, European Commission, and Sven Giegold, MEP for the Greens.