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European Citizens´ Initiative Forum

Design, Engage, Impact: The Improved European Citizens' Initiative Leads the Way to a Stronger, Citizen – Centered European Union

Updated on: 05/03/2020

Design, Engage, Impact: The Improved European Citizens' Initiative Leads the Way to a Stronger, Citizen – Centered  European Union


As the Conference on the Future of Europe approaches, all the buzz in Brussels these days is about how to get citizens more engaged in policy making on the EU level. While it remains to be seen what would be agreed upon between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council regarding the shape of the Conference, one thing is sure – the Conference should build upon the experience and the lessons learnt from previous and current initiatives of citizen engagement.  This naturally puts the European Citizens’ Initiative, as the first trans-national instrument of participatory democracy which allows European citizens to shape the EU policy agenda and its multilingual online collaborative platform (this Forum), on the center stage.

The European Commission has revamped the European Citizens’ Initiative, enhancing the possibilities it offers for European citizens to design their own initiatives and engage with others in order to have a real impact on the agenda setting at the EU level. This is one opportunity not to be missed for anyone interested in citizen participation, so make sure you REGISTER ON THE FORUM NOW to take advantage of the shared experience, and of the expert guidance and advice for current and future initiatives' organisers.

The European Parliament and the Commission have published their starting positions on how the Conference on the Future of Europe should look like. Many stakeholders have expressed opinions – some considering the proposed approach too top down, others emphasizing the insufficient involvement of the organised civil society. While the framework is still to be developed and hopefully improved, there is one particular feature of the design which makes it different from most institutional endeavours so far. The Conference should be “a new public forum for an open, inclusive, transparent and structured debate with citizens”, using a multilingual digital platformto maximise participation, accessibility and transparency.

This is encouraging considering the increasing number of democratic innovations taking place at all levels in Europe  which succeed because they combine offline and online tools – from co-deciding with citizens of budget spending for municipal projects (Paris is crowdsourcing 5% of its investment budget) to the collaborative drafting with citizens of a new Icelandic Constitution.

The unique democratic innovation at EU level is undoubtedly the European Citizens’ Initiative. With its improved user-friendliness and its upgraded support infrastructure, it is not surprising that more Europeans are eager to use this instrument and more initiatives are getting registered.

Indicative of the wishes of the Europeans with regard to the issues they are concerned with, the successful past and the 16 ongoing initiatives are a good reference point for potential subjects, the Conference on the Future of Europe can explore further.

Moreover, the experience and the lessons learnt from the management of the multilingual online collaborative platform – the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum – which supports citizens when organising their initiatives and encourages potential organisers to trigger discussions and connect with eventual supporters by posting their ideas on the Discuss section of the Forum can bring useful insights when designing the multilingual digital platform of the Conference.

Last but not least, the Conference should indeed promote the European Citizens’ Initiative throughout Europe. This can easily be done by making the ongoing European citizens’ initiatives feature on the multilingual platform of the Conference in order to encourage citizens to consider and support them.

At the end of the day, it is only by creating synergies among the different tool and methods of democratic innovation, that a real European public space as a public sphere of dialogue, debate, and co-production of decisions not only for but with the citizens of Europe will be created!




Assya Kavrakova

Assya Kavrakova is the Executive Director of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) - - an international non-profit organisation, based in Brussels, with a pan-European membership and nearly 30 years of experience in empowering citizens to exercise their rights and campaigning for an inclusive, transparent and democratic Europe. Ms Kavrakova has more than twenty years of experience in senior management positions in the non-governmental sector and in-depth knowledge of European Citizenship, European Rights Framework, EU civic participation formal and informal mechanisms. She is the project manager of the online collaborative platform “European Citizens’ Initiative Forum” – a project operated by ECAS – on behalf of and under contract to the European Commission. She is also a member of the Board of EUobserver - a not-for-profit, independent online newspaper.

Get in touch with Assya on the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum

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Inactive user | 26/02/2020

I would like, if possible , to assist by streaming


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Forum Team | 26/02/2020

Dear Enrique,

We thank you for your message and herewith inform you that the event will be web-streamed.

The information with the link will appear on the European Citizens' Initiative website the day before the event.

Best regards,

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on the ECI Forum reflect solely the point of view of their authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the position of the European Commission or of the European Union.
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